Saturday, November 25, 2017

"Where Are You?"

I’m blind on the inside of my mouth. My tongue is clumsy and can’t see. So when I broke a tooth, and the phone-person was trying to have me do a little self-diagnosis, I wasn’t much help. I’ve heard the hygienist label and describe, but the correspondence is lost on me.

It occurred to me that if I am blind on the inside of my mouth, then I am much more so on the inside of my soul. I am aware of good things, like peace, joy and gratefulness; and also of bad things, like anger, discouragement and bitterness. How these things are related, and where they are rooted, is lost on me.

When the Lord God approached Adam and Eve in the garden, He called out the question, “Where are you?” I do not assume for an instant that God did not know where Adam was. He knew exactly. It was for Adam to figure out the answer. And from the answer he gave, it is clear that Adam was lost in his own mouth, and lost in his own soul. 

This might be regarded as the first prayer in the Bible. God calls. Man answers. And, if this is a prototypical prayer from the prototypical man, then our prayers, like Adam’s, are marked by stuttering and stumbling. “I…I…I…I.” On the outside, “I heard” and “I hid,” but on the inside, how do I describe it, “I was afraid,” because “I was naked.” I don’t know how all these things are related, or where they are rooted, but there’s my answer, such as it is.

It seems that a prayer exercise that seeks to answer the question, “Where are you?” would be good for all of us. Not geographically, though the story might start there. But where are you in relation to God? Where are you in relation to God’s words, God’s commands? This was key for Adam. I suspect that it is for us as well. Where are you in relation to God’s provision, as yet unrevealed to Adam, since God had not yet killed in order to provide adequate covering? Adam was afraid and ashamed partly because of the flimsy, foolish covering that he had made for his own condition.

Here are some soul-searching questions: What have I heard from God that I have ignored? How have I hidden myself from His direction and inspection? What am I really afraid of? Of what am I ashamed? In what ways am I involving myself in a man-made cover-up? These are soul issues. And when we try to self-diagnose, we find that we have to go by feel, because we are mostly blind. But thankfully, Jesus is the surgeon of the soul, and he loves, and he presses in on us to push through our silly reasonings and excuses, “that he might bring us to God,” back where we belong. 

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