Where Are You?
by Joseph Franks
Where are you? According to the scriptural record, this was the first question God asked man. It is found in Genesis 3:8-9, “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?’
Adam and Eve had been so blessed. God had given them perfect souls, communion, bodies, spouses, and they dwelt in a perfect paradise.
However, the first couple soon disbelieved the affection and wisdom of their Heavenly Father. Instead they believed the lie of Lucifer and over-valued their own intellect. Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit and all appeared to be lost. Immediately, after rebelling against their Holy Creator, they were filled with terror. Instantly, they ran, self-clothed, huddled together, and hid from their former friend. They were consumed with fear and guilt.
But how beautiful is the undeserved compassion of God! The offended Creator came to them in the cool of the day. Lovingly he pursued those who had put themselves at enmity with him. Tenderly he called out to his trembling rebels, “Adam, Eve, where are you?” They would be addressed. They would be condemned. They would be disciplined; the consequences of their transgression would be huge and horrible. However, they would also be rescued, covered, forgiven, restored to usefulness, and promised an eternity with their Heavenly Lover.
Friends in Jesus Christ, this is our experience as well — except for the “perfect” parts mentioned above. We too receive God’s Law. We too disbelieve his affection and wisdom. Consistently, we over-value the counsel of the Prince of Darkness and believe him to be wise. Then we willingly disobey and rebel. And what does this result in? We find ourselves in odd, sinful, lonely, and guilty places. We are not where we ought not be:
- Spiritually — Our hearts were made to glorify and enjoy God. We were made to feast in his presence and pray without ceasing. His desires were to be our desires. His loathing of Satan and evil was to be ours as well. But we find ourselves too dark, sinful, wretched and detached. As believers, we are too often cold and unfeeling. As unbelievers, we are dead and excommunicated. Spiritually, we are not where we ought to be.
- Mentally — We substitute the infallible and unchanging wisdom of God’s Word for the passing fads and fancies of man. We value more TV, talk radio, books, podcasts than we do the Bible. Mentally, we are not where we ought to be. We are foolish, and we are not mentally where we ought to be.
- Emotionally — Instead of having perfect peace, we are consumed with anxiety and fear. Constant joy has been replaced by hedonistic idolatry followed by personal depression. Emotionally, we are not in a good place.
- Relationally — We may huddle together in some sort of sinful community, but we should not let that fool us. Like Adam who threw Eve under the bus, we are just moments away from selling-out our spouse or harming our neighbor when they are no longer seen of benefits to us. We are not in the place of relational service and harmony; we are not where we ought to be.
- Ministerially — We have been created to be God’s servants taking care of his business. There are children to raise, businesses to run, churches to pastor, communities to transform, and spiritual fish to be caught. But like Adam in the Garden and Peter following his betrayal, we are not laboring for our Lord as we ought.
- Physically — We could run to Christ for help. We could run to the church where the Means of Grace are readily available. There are ministers, elders, and mature individuals waiting to shower us with the Gospel-grace of God. There we can find help for our spiritual souls, our dull minds, our confused emotions, our troubled relationships. There we can be encouraged to use our spiritual gifts and engage in great service for the Lord. But too often, we, who are spiritually dead (unbelievers) or spiritually dull (sinful believers), are not found in the House of the Lord.
Well friends, I hear the Lord coming our way, and he is calling out, “Where are you?” If you hear his voice, answer him quickly and loudly. Come out of hiding, rid yourself of your self-clothing and self-medication, and be comforted by his gracious embrace.
No, you do not have to go to a physical church in order to be reconciled to him. You can fall on your knees and enjoy the experience of fresh reconciliation right now.
But you will need it again, and Sunday is right around the corner. So please, find your place of worship this Lord’s Day and be encouraged — spiritually, mentally, emotionally, relationally, and ministerially. Ministers, elders, and friends are waiting for you. The Word of God will be prayed, sung, read, and preached. The Lord’s sacraments will be utilized, and they are such a blessing. Oh hurting and fearful friends, why should God have to cry out again, “Where are you?” Instead, beat him to the punch, enter his house, enter his presence, and cry out to him as you are finding your seat, “Hear I am Lord, where are you?”
Passage to meditate upon: James 4:1-10
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.