Several years ago, I decided that I would read the Bible through each year using a simple reading plan. I’m committed to keeping this regular rhythm in place in 2016 for me personally, and would encourage anyone to join me in it. From time to time, I’d like to write a little bit about what the day’s readings spoke to me…of course, this post is a little late in coming.
The Relentless Pursuit of God
In Genesis 3, we learn that which was intended by God, that which God previously labled “perfect,” became something much less. God gave the first humans everything they needed and could have desired; paradise with unhindered access to God and to each other. God created us with the best in mind, God is for us, God wants to be in relationship with us. That is part of our purpose, to be in relationship with God.
There was only one prohibition, “do not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” for that would ruin everything. The first humans did eat, and things changed. Adam and Eve felt shame for the first time. Their relationships with God changed. The first thing they did was hide in shame. They covered their nakedness with fig leaves.
What did God do? He found them. He explained that they had changed things and life would be different and hard now, but at the same time, he made them better clothes. He pursued them even when they did not feel worthy to be found. For the next 1039 pages of my Bible, God relentlessly pursues his people living in a world that is not what it was supposed to be, seeking to make everything right again, and yes, with our volitional paritcipation.
What Spoke to Me
First, I was drawn to Adam’s lack of “stepping up when it mattered.” Adam knew the prohibition. Yet, he was standing right there watching his wife struggle. He said nothing, he only watched. Not only did he watch, but he participated; he ate too. His passivity speaks to my own, and, it makes me very uncomfortable. Part of it is selfishness, wanting to avoid conflict for fear of the disapproval of others. Part of it is pride, being able to point the finger of blame to someone else as the source of a problem; I’m off the hook and my fig leaf just got a little bigger, and I move a little farther away from God every time I do.
Second, is the impact it has on others. Eve suffered in confusion because Adam remained silent. He did not move into the confusion to bring any kind of order, reason, or draw the best out of his wife; he didn’t seem to be “for” her the way God was “for” both of them. It’s kind of like he said, “Whatever you want is fine, and if it works for you, let me know and I might try it too. In the meantime, I’m just going to kick back over here…maybe mow the lawn, check Facebook, or take a nap.” That doesn’t strike me as love. It strikes me as selfishness.
I’m pondering today, how many different ways I shrink back in fear to avoid conflict. How many times I do not speak up for what is right, not with an angry and boisterous spirit, but out of love. I’m struck by how much time I spend hiding behind my fig leaf so that you won’t see how insecure I am, how naked I feel, where I’m afraid that I will make no impact, that it’s just easier not to try. I’m struck how little I step into my relationship with my wife with her best interest at heart, when what she needs, what we all need, is an authentic life-giver…someone that draws the best out of us, someone that sees through the fig leaf and still says, “I love you anyway. I see the real you, the one God made. I’m in relentless pursuit of you.” It is what God does for us, and what we are to do for our spouses, our children, and with all other relationships in which we are engaged.
Lord, thank you for your relentless pursuit. Help me to trust that you have my best interest at heart. Help me to see it and understand it, and even more, to experience it. Lord, I’m burdened by the number of the places I fail to step up, the ways I hide, and where I shrink back to avoid conflict or abdicate my responsibility to calling out the best in others, especially my wife, my children, and those I serve. Thank you that you see through my fig leaf, that you love me anyway, and that you provide better clothes than I’m apt to make for myself, that you see me for who I really am, my True Self. You have not provided me with a spirit of fear (fig leaf), but of power and love (better clothes). Give me a new wardrobe! Help me to trust you that despite my insecurities (nakedness), I may be whole by your grace (dressed in the reality of the image of God), and that I may participate with you in the relentless pursuit and wholeness of others. Amen.
Where are you shrinking back in fear? Why? How does that affect your relationships? What would happen if you stepped forward in courage? What would change? How would it feel to live from the True Self (image of God), rather than from the False Self (the fig leaf)?
About The Author
Charlie Vensel is a Co-Founder and the Executive Director of New 4RMations. Charlie is an International Coach Federation (ICF) Associated Certified Coach (ACC), Certified Spiritual Director (CSD), and ordained minister (MDIV) helping individuals and couples discover who they were meant to be and how to get there. To contact Charlie, simply click the “Start the Conversation” button below.