What's God Teaching You Right Now?
I’ve learned to ask myself that question regularly. Sometimes the answer comes to me quickly – like the voice of Jesus speaking directly into my heart. Other times, the answer comes slowly – like a frustrating riddle with obscure clues. Sometimes the answer comes in prayer. Sometimes it comes in Bible study. Usually it comes in a moment of silence – asking for it and listening for it. Here’s the problem though: more often than I’d like to admit – I don’t like the answer. Because his constant goal is to conform us into the image of his son (Romans 8:29), which means I can’t plateau spiritually; I’ve got to keep repenting, surrendering, and growing. So, I excuse, rationalize and minimize my behavior – but my feeble efforts of self-protection and self-deception feel like the little boy with chocolate on his face saying he didn’t get into the candy jar. It doesn’t convince either of us. So, I’m left with chocolate on my face and no place to hide. Maybe that’s how Adam and Eve felt when God came to look for them in the garden after they sinned. “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.9 But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” 10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid (Genesis 3:8-10).” Have you ever noticed that when we sin, we want to hide from God? That’s because sin leads to fear and shame. Jesus said in John 3:20, “Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.” But what is God doing when we’re hiding from him? “But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9) When we hide from God, he comes looking for us. In Luke 15, Jesus tells the parables of “the lost sheep” and “the lost coin”. In each parable, God is represented as searching for the lost sinner: “Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it (Luke 15:3-4)?” “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it (Luke 15:8)?” Perhaps the entire story of the Bible can be summed up in God’s words to Adam and Eve: “Where are you?” Do you hear God’s voice in the darkness as he searches high and low for your heart? “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16).” Like a warm and tender-hearted father following us into the bedroom we’ve run into for our pity party, God says: I know you’re hurting, and the last thing you want to do is face your shame. But I’m full of mercy and grace, and all I want to do is comfort you, restore you, and help you grow. Don’t run away from me. Open your heart to me, and I’ll transform you with ever-increasing glory (2 Corinthians 3:18). Don’t give up. Give in – to the gentle voice of the Shepherd of your heart; the one who pursues you day in and day out – when you’re doing well, and when you’ve got chocolate on your face; when you’re running toward him, and when you’re running away from him. What’s God teaching you right now? Don’t be afraid of the answer. Because it comes from the throne of grace, the lover of your soul, the Shepherd of your heart.