8They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9But the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” 10He said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” 11The LORD God said, “Who told you that you were naked?”
Reading Scripture to Know:
- What is happening/being said? (Observation)
- Why is this happening/being said? (Interpretation)
- What does the rest of Scripture say about it? (Evaluation)
- What does it mean? (Understanding)
- What does it mean for us? (Application)
Reading Scripture to Grow:
- What words or phrases stand out to you? Why?
- Where do you hear the voice of God in this Scripture?
- How do you see the character of God reflected in this Scripture?
- How does this Scripture reveal God?
- How does this Scripture expose humanity and its need for God?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in your life?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in our world?
- What might God want to communicate to you (us) this week through this Scripture?
Scripture Reads Me:
- This passage makes me feel…
- This passage makes me think about…
- This passage reminds me of…
- This passage teaches me that God is…
- This passages teaches me that I am…
- This passage challenges me to…
I’d like to introduce you to Marigold, or as we affectionately call her, “Kitten.” We brought Marigold home to live with us back in December. It had been a while since we had a kitten in the house, as our other cat, Bailey, is fourteen. I had forgotten how much mischief a little kitten can get into and especially how much they love to hide! The picture above is from this spring. I had received something in the mail and it had arrived in a large envelope. When I went to throw the envelope away, I realized that Marigold had crawled in the envelope (probably to take a nap!). Before she realized that she had been discovered and was able to jump out, I snapped this photograph of her. It reminded me of the days when our other cats were kittens and they would find hiding places in the box springs under our mattress.
Kittens love to hide – it’s what they do. They are curious and like to sneak up on others. It is all part of their charm. But sometimes we are tempted to hide away too. Oftentimes, our hiding is not charming. Instead, our hiding can be used as a defense mechanism. We hide because we want to isolate from others, sometimes because of fear and sometimes because of shame. We can even try to hide from God – for the same reasons.
The good news is that we cannot hide away from God. The psalmist wrote it this way:
Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light around me become night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you. (Psalm 139:7-12)
The fact that we cannot hide from God is not threatening, but comforting. God seeks us out, not in wrath, but in mercy. God has a tendency to provide us with grace-filled coverings when we feel the need to hide out of intense vulnerability or shame.
Have you ever tried to hide from God? How might you make yourself more available to God, even when you feel like hiding away? This week we will be exploring our commitment to remain present – to God, to others, and to the local church community. There is no reason to hide away or isolate. No matter how exposed we feel, our God is merciful and we have one another. Remember that, in Christ, we’re all in this together!
When have you felt like hiding from God? When have you felt as if God has been hidden from your perception? Reflect on these two questions as you journal this week. As you do, you will be in good company. Theologians and philosophers across the ages have wrestled with the question of God’s “hiddenness.” Since God is present, why is it so difficult sometimes to connect to God’s presence or see God working in the world? The good news to keep in mind is that God is present even when we do not perceive God’s nearness.
This practice allows you to listen to the Scripture for the week (in larger context) and to open yourself up to God’s voice in that Scripture.
Click on the audio link above and listen to the Scripture. As you listen this first time, ask God to point out to you a word or phrase from the Scripture.
- Click on the audio link above again and listen to the Scripture a second time. As you listen this second time, ask God to reveal to you the holy intentions for this word or phrase that is being spoken into your life.
- Click on the audio link above again and listen to the Scripture a third time. As you listen this third time, ask God how you might respond to this word or phrase being spoken into your life today.
Cloud of Witnesses:
Lawrence was a 17th-century French monk. He was dedicated to the belief that God was present in the most mundane aspects of the day. As he worked chopping carrots in the kitchen of the monastery, he would imagine Christ beside him, working along with him. No work was too small to be sanctified by our Lord. Clink here to read about his life and consider picking up his classic book, The Practice of the Presence of God.
Listen to the song, I Am Thine, O Lord by Fanny Crosby and William Doane. You can purchase the song here if you’d like. You can also find the song in the United Methodist Hymnal (#419). As you listen and sing, pay special attention to the chorus and its call for Christ to draw us nearer to him. What is God communicating to you through this song? What might you communicate to God through this song?
This week, pray for those who feel overlooked and discarded by the world. Ask God to reveal Godself to them. Pray Psalm 34:18 over them: “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.” Then ask God to give you the ability both to see them and to be a compassionate presence in their life. If you feel overlooked, trust that God is watching over you in love and ask God to put people of compassion in your path.
Whenever you go somewhere this week, pause for a moment and notice the presence of God in that place. Perhaps say a quick prayer like this one as you enter the store, begin your day at work, take a walk, or wherever you find yourself – “LORD God, you are in this place and I am available to you.” Look for God in the mundane, everyday places of life. May your spiritual eyes be open to “seeing” God wherever you find yourself.
Take some time to reflect upon your day or your week. Follow the process below and open yourself up to the presence and work of God in your life this week. Every week the structure is the same, but some specifics are changed to reflect the Scripture of the week.
- Find a place and posture that will prepare you for prayer.
- Begin by breathing in deeply through your nose and breathing deeply out of your mouth.
- Invite God to lead you through the previous day or week. For instance, if it is Tuesday night, reflect back on Tuesday morning, afternoon, and evening. If it Saturday or Sunday, reflect back on Monday through Friday.
- Ask God to guide you through these questions:
- How has God revealed grace to you?
- How has God been present in your time of need?
- How have you felt near or far to God?
- How have you seen God at work?
- How has God been quiet?
- Thank God for this journey of reflection on your day or week. Ask God to continue to reveal Godself to you tomorrow.
Put down your phone or electronic device and give someone your full attention this week. Practice being present to, not just present with, others. Look people in the eye, smile at them, and make them feel heard and valued. In this way you model Christ who saw what others were too distracted to notice in other people.
Breath Prayer: LORD God, bring us to you.
IT’S THE 100TH WORD AND SPIRIT GUIDE!
THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR SUPPORT!