Written by: Lily Beasley
“Where are you?” Genesis 3:9b (NIV)
I’ll be the first to admit, I’m prone to wander. More often than I’d like to confess, I rely on my common sense mixed with Christian morals to guide me. For most of my life, I’ve been content with keeping God at arm's length. We’d meet once a week on Sunday, and sometimes on a Wednesday if I felt like it. On the outside, everything in my life seemed to align, but I knew better.
My relationship with God was shallow and superficial at best. I had accepted Jesus as my Savior at a young age, but I hadn’t given Him control of my life. I didn’t trust Him to guide me. I thought I knew how to be a good Christian, so I went through familiar actions week by week: attend church, read a passage of Scripture in Sunday school, and bow my head while someone else prayed. Despite doing all of these things, I didn’t feel close to the Lord. I had doubts, and because I was scared to voice them, I didn’t. I hid from myself, and in doing so, I hid from God.
Everything began to change for me the summer before my senior year. It was then that the Lord revealed the root of my doubts: my feelings. I didn’t feel emotionally connected to God, so I used that to filter how I viewed our relationship. It didn’t feel right to go to God with my brokenness, so I held back hoping that it would change on its own. I thought once I moved past my doubts, then I’d be able to pursue the Lord.
One of the first messages I heard my senior year was based around when sin entered the world. The speaker emphasized the importance of firsts in the Bible, specifically the first thing God said after Adam and Eve sinned. God had made man to be in relationship with Him, but sin entered the world, and shame tainted it. God’s first words in response to this weren’t those of anger and disappointment, but the gentle inquiry of “Where are you?” The speaker pointed out that God knew what had happened, and He already knew the answer to His question, so why ask it?
In that moment, the Lord was displaying His compassion. He wanted to meet Adam and Eve where they were. His first action wasn’t to discipline them but to reach out to them in their shame. He didn’t force Himself into their presence, but waited for them to speak to Him.
In the same way, the Lord has continued to ask this question to us today, to me today. God has never expected me to come to Him put together, but with my doubts, my hurts, and my imperfections. When I realized this, a lightbulb lit up in my heart. Love is not an emotion, but an action. I hadn’t trusted His love for me because I didn’t feel it. When I finally confessed this to Him, He reminded me of the cross. Where my heart had wanted feelings, the Lord gave me faith that reminds me of how He has already reached out and will continue to reach out.
Not only has God seen my brokenness, but He has made a way out of it. Today when I’m struggling with my emotions, I have Jesus’ promise “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28 NIV). The Lord has taught me that He never meant for me to live in a shallow relationship with Him, but He made me to walk and rest with Him through every scene of life. Just as God clothed Adam and Eve’s shame in the garden, Jesus clothes my sin with His righteousness. No longer is Jesus just my Savior, He is also my Lord. He guides my steps. He searches for me when I wander. No matter how I feel, I now know that He has never left my side, and He never will.
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