Coming Out of the Closet

"Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, 'Where are you?'"  (Genesis 3:7-9).

Sin - Shame - Hiding.  It is a pattern that began in the Garden of Eden and continues today. Sin often leads to shame which inevitably results in hiding.  It is a cycle that is difficult to break and potentially crippling for a Jesus follower.  My wife and I have lived this cycle.  Our sin has generated a lot of shame in our lives which has caused us to hide in so many ways.

Who will we see? Who will see us? What will they say about me? What if they knew the whole story?  These type of self-imposed questions make you want to withdraw and hide.

How did you two meet? How long have been married? Do you have children? How did you end up in Alabama? What did you do before this? These type of innocent everyday life questions from others make you want to withdraw and hide.

When Adam & Eve sinned against God that day, they felt something they had never experienced: shame. And their shame instinctively made them want to hide from each other and from God. So they did. For the first time, they put on clothes to hide from each other and they bypassed their evening appointment to stroll with God in the garden. Instead they retreated to the bushes in disgrace.

Sin - shame - hiding ... break out the fig leaves and flee to the closet.

One of my favorite images in the Bible is found in this story as God comes down to where Adam and Eve are and seeks them out. They can't come up to Him so He comes down to them. He pursues them at the time most of us would ignore or punish them. God had every right to stay removed that particular evening. An aloof God makes sense when you consider the crime scene.  And yet there He is - the Relentless Pursuer - seeking them out. He calls them out of their closet of shame.

Adam ... Eve ... where are you?

Did God know where Adam & Eve were? Of course. Hiding in the bushes is kind of ludicrous when you think about it. You can't hide from an all-knowing, all-seeing God. So what is God doing? He is initiating and demonstrating His plan of redemption. He is providing for sin. He is calling Adam & Eve out of shame and hiding and into reconciliation, healing, and redemption. He is demonstrating grace.

It is a beautiful picture ... one that I have lived.

Devin ... Ashley ... where are you?

My wife and I have been having some heart-to-heart talks in recent days about this issue. In so many ways, we have been living in hiding.  And what we are realizing is this: God does not call his followers to live in shame and hiding.  With repentance comes forgiveness and with forgiveness comes freedom. To continue to live ashamed or in hiding is actually defying God's intention for us.  

To live in disgrace as a forgiven Jesus follower is to diss grace!

Redeemed people are to live ... redeemed - forgiven - accepted.  We are testimonies of God's forgiveness. We are demonstrations of His grace. Our story celebrates God's redemption and healing. Our story is the gospel story that weaves its way through the pages of the Bible and the annals of human history - the story of God pursuing and redeeming sinful humans - even when we fall.  We are part of that story! To live in hiding is an insult to this God who pursues and redeems. God calls us to live in freedom and shame has no place in the life of the free.

I'm not sure exactly what this truth looks like in our present lives but here's what I do know:
We are stories of His grace.
We are forgiven.
We are redeemed.
We are healing.
We will no longer hide.
We will not be ashamed.
We will not allow the enemy to rob us of our identity in Jesus.
We will not allow the opinions or judgments of others to dictate who we are in Jesus.
We will celebrate His grace and forgiveness.

God has called us out of hiding and into His freedom and that is where we plan to live.

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