Greg has been preparing for the past few weeks for his first-ever Sunday sermon. He knew the topic he would preach on immediately, and with enthusiasm and passion he dove into studying and preparation. His sermon is going to be based on Genesis 3, and the first question God ever asked, “where are you?”
It’s an amazing question, and I am so looking forward to hearing Greg’s breakdown of it. He has worked so hard, and this is a subject that has been up-front and center in his life, and continues to be. But as we talked during his preparation for the sermon, and old memory came back to me related to it...and it was extremely pivotal for me.
In the scripture Greg’s sermon leads with, Adam and Eve have sinned. They did what they knew they shouldn’t do. As soon as they did it, they knew it was wrong. Very wrong. So they went to hide in the garden, making themselves coverings for their nakedness. They sinned. They knew it. They hated it. They were too shamed for God to know what they did. So they hid.
The memory that came to my mind related to this is from a prayer group I was involved in before I ever met Greg. A group of 5-8 girls and I would get together almost weekly to pray and get closer to God and each other. I always absolutely treasured these times. No matter what was happening in life, God used the group to bring us closer to each other and to Himself. No matter what.
So I remembered this one prayer time, and it was during one of the darkest times of my life. It was a time that I was in a Pit, and I basically dove into it head first. Almost willingly. Almost excitedly. ALMOST. It was, to date, the worst time of my entire life.
As I was at the bottom of this pit, I knew the difference between where I should be and where I was. I was trying to claw my way out but couldn’t get a firm footing. However, I didn’t want anyone else to know about it. I was afraid of what they would think. So I hid. I literally and figuratively hid. I continued to go to church, church events and my little prayer group. But at the same time, I would wear weird things and act weird ways, and hid in my Pit and thought I was doing a good job of keeping the whole thing from God and my friends.
One night we all gathered for prayer. I had a difficult day in my Pit, and was trying to focus on God but really was having a hard time. Suddenly, a note came to me from one of the girls in the group who I knew had no idea what I was doing. It was during a particularly silent time of prayer, so I was a bit taken aback by the note as well as who it came from. The note said,
Why are you hiding?
I instantly broke down.
A couple weeks later, my roommate was buying a new car. She wanted some moral support during the process, so I went with her as she went to sign the final papers on the car she decided to buy. The car salesman was a pastor who worked part-time in ministry and full-time in car sales to make ends meet. My roommate and this pastor became pretty close during the car-buying process, so after she signed on the dotted line, the three of us went to lunch to celebrate. In the middle of lunch at Marietta Diner, out of the clear blue sky, the pastor/car salesman turned to me and said,
“When are you going to get your life together to
serve God the way you know you’re supposed to?”
I instantly broke down again. And in the middle of my complimentary spanikopita.
I don’t know why we do it...play this divine version of hide-and-seek with the Almighty, thinking “I’m really going to really trick Him this time!” We never do. Ever. But He’s the consummate professional Daddy. He knows exactly where we’ve chosen to hide. He can hear us breathing and stifling our sounds. Yet He still counts to 20 to give us time to hide. Then He says, “Ready or not, here I come!” And He comes. He comes slowly. First He acknowledges all the places we are not...almost teasingly, saying, “Of course she wouldn’t hide there!” And then just when we think “we outsmarted Him this time!” He gingerly walks up to the place that we thought was the darkest, the most secure, the most private...and He opens it gently and says, “Found you.”
He always finds us.
It’s like when a baby covers his eyes and thinks you can’t see him because he can’t see you.
But He’s the Father. He sees everything.
I do not live in the past, and firmly believe I’m forgiven for the things of my past...just like every single one of us are if we choose to accept forgiveness through Jesus Christ. But sometimes I’m grateful that the sting still feels as fresh as it did all those years ago. It makes me grateful for the Rescuer. It makes me grateful for the Forgiver. The Redeemer. The Visionary of My Future. It makes me grateful for the times He found me, even when I thought I didn’t want to be found. Or deserved to be found. And I’ve kept that note in my journal as a reminder.
He found me anyway.
Ready or not, He came.
“I once was lost, but now I’m found.
Was blind, but now I see.”
(c)1772, John Newton, “Amazing Grace”