Written by Matthew Fitzgerald
"The Man and his Wife hid in the trees of the garden, hid from God. God called … 'Where are you?'" - Genesis 3:8
It's a harmless question, but it makes their knees knock. It's a cry of love, but they hear it as a threat. Where are they? They're hiding.
They were not made to hide from God. But now they're fallen, so they view God as vengeful. They pile dirt and leaves up over themselves. He keeps calling. "Where are you?"
Is there anger in the voice? They shake with fear. Maybe God's curiosity will turn to frustration and then that frustration will become rage, and with a single word all of Eden will be razed to expose them cowering between the trees. Maybe God can do this and chooses not to. As Hilary Mantel puts it, "There's a feeling of power in reserve, a power that drives right through the bone, like the shiver you sense in the shaft of an ax when you take it in your hand. You can strike, or you can not strike, and if you choose to hold back the blow, you can still feel inside you the resonance of the omitted thing." Does God feel it? The resonance of omitted rage, power restrained? Perhaps.
Or perhaps God doesn't have power in the crude way our fallen minds define the word. Perhaps what God has is a surplus of love; a superabundance of love that makes God suffer, anxious with the desire to see Her favorite creatures.
Have you ever lost a child in the park? Anger isn't your first concern. Vengeance isn't what you're after.
"Here we are God. Right here! Come and get us! Amen."
Matt Fitzgerald is the Senior Pastor of St. Pauls United Church of Christ, Chicago, IL.