This week my blog turns a year old. (That’s seven dog-years and about a million internet-years). Guess it’s time to tell you why it’s called God in the Clear.
A few years ago I read a book that begins this way: “Imagine God thinking about you. What do you assume God feels when you come to mind?”
Recent studies have confirmed that we are just as likely to imagine a god filled with anger and disappointment as one filled with love and joy.
Let’s push further still. Call to mind your biggest screw-ups: times you’ve disappointed others and yourself, times you’ve acted and reacted in ways you just can’t believe, times when you’ve let sin claim large territories of your heart.
With all of your weaknesses, addictions, and flaws called to mind, picture God once more. How in the world will He react to people with the capacity for sin and betrayal like us? We are his children, sure, but we are also train-wrecks. “Surely, there’s a limit to his love,” we begin to think, “a breaking point for his patience. And if so, surely, I’ve reached it.”
The first time we (and I use we in a loose sense) reached this “breaking point” was Genesis 3. Adam and Eve have surrendered to temptation, beginning (as it always does) with the acceptance of a less-than-stellar conception of God. In a sudden wave of awareness, they can think of nothing but their sin and shame (nakedness).
Their hearts, for the first time, know a reality other than the love of God. They now know fear, suspicion, regret, and they know them intimately. They scramble to assemble a cover for their nakedness – which was the ancients’ beautiful way of expressing our intense desire to be able to fix our own brokenness – but, alas, it is completely, ridiculously inadequate.
At that exact moment, they hear God walking toward them.
What a curious time for God to show up.
Adam and Eve (i.e. humanity) hide. Besides the “I can take care of this myself!” reaction, this is the other devastating reaction we have to our own sins. We shrink. We look for the darkened corner. We get out of the clear.
But not God. Where is He at the precise moment his children need him most? Where is He when they’ve done their worst, when they’ve painted black where he created white? Where is He when they (we) are utterly convinced He’ll want nothing more to do with them?
God is in the clear. Looking for his children. Calling out their name.
Can you hear him? “Where are you?” He asks. It is, as the ancients told the story at least, the first question God ever asked. Until this moment, he has spoken decisively, using his words to shape the world. Now, he pauses and waits for our reply.
His presence in the midst of our sins, his question in the midst of our confusion – They compel us to come out of hiding. They convince us that our distorted view of God was exactly that. They let us know, from the beginning, that there is nothing we can do to ever make him be anything other than love.
God is in the clear.
Are there consequences to our sin? Absolutely. Abandonment? Never.
God’s not hiding, not recoiling from our brokenness. No, he’s coming for us.
One day that even meant putting on flesh and walking among us (again). Nowhere do we see God’s heart more clearly than on the cross, but He’s been revealing it to us ever since He stood in the clear.