Where are you?
They were afraid because they were naked, so they hid.
They were afraid because they were vulnerable, naked, open to view. They hid because they were naked – ashamed of that, maybe, but it was the nakedness they hid for, not the shame. They were afraid because they were naked.
Read those paragraphs again, replacing ‘They were’ for ‘I was’ (or am).
So we hide ourselves – from others, from God and inevitably from ourselves too. We are naked so we hide, cover up our vulnerability.
Yet it is there, in our vulnerableness, our nakedness, that our Lord can truly find us, that we can see God – “Blessed are the pure in heart for they can see God”. It is that which God’s judgement gives – a revealing, a stripping away of our hiding to reveal ourselves – and thus enable us to see God.
So where, why do you hide your nakedness? Where, what do you cover up? Are you afraid, deep down in your core? – and what of?
What are the unacceptable parts of your self? – and how do you hide them? What sort of image do you project to others, and what lies behind it? Could it be that the sin is not so much in that which you hide, but in the hiding? Hiding parts of you that God can see, but which you hide anyway? Hiding those parts of you which God could, over time, cleanse, heal, if only you could acknowledge them first. Hiding from the fact of God’s overwhelming love for your whole self.
I found great relief in acknowledging that there are parts of me that I don’t like. Having learnt somewhere of the need to present myself well, I hid all the parts of me I didn’t like, and, for a long time, the fact that I didn’t like them also. I didn’t acknowledge it and worked hard to ensure it all stayed hidden. It was like being on a hamster wheel; going round and round and getting nowhere, and not able to get off. Then, praying with this passage from Genesis, it occurred to me that of course there are parts of me I don’t like. That’s what Christianity is about, isn’t it? That we have all sinned, are not perfect, are not expected to be. If we hide parts of ourselves, it doesn’t make any difference to the fact that they are there, we just can’t do anything about them – and neither can God.
Accepting this, I could actually stop hiding all the idea that I’m not a nice person, then get off the hamster wheel of trying to convince everyone else (and therefore myself) that I am a nice person. The relief of not having to hide it all anymore! I’m not sure it’s caused any major changes, I may or may not be a nice person – but that’s not actually what it’s about. It’s about coming before God as increasingly myself rather than an image of who I think I am supposed to be, therefore developing a more real relationship, based more truly in the love of the Trinity.
So are there parts of your self that you are hiding, and is it time to bring them out into the open, to be more vulnerable with God? It may, or it may not be. It may be that this has already happened, or that the timing isn’t right for you now. It may be that you are vulnerable with God, or that your reasons for not being are different. We can all come to God, as open as we are able to be, secure in the knowledge that God holds all of us, each of you in your entirety, close, surrounded by love, which our Lord yearns to share with us.
Is God calling ‘Where are you, [insert your own name]? Can we answer, ‘here I am’ in an ever-deepening way? Or even just ‘here I would be’ and allow God’s timing to respond to that.