I got the dreaded call from one of my son’s teachers the other day.
“Mr. Carr, I have to tell you about something that happened at school. Owen yelled, ‘Shut up!’ at one of his friends in the middle of the quiet library. He didn’t want me to tell you or Kelly but I told him that I would.”
I was on to pick up Owen that afternoon and a curiously subdued fourth-grade boy climbed into the back seat of my car.
“I had a fantastic day, dad!” he volunteered.
“We’ll talk about it when we get home.”
When we got home we had a seat on the couch. I looked at him and asked about his day. He began to fidget and his voice cracked ever so slightly as he began to explain.
“I had a fantastic day at first,” he began. “But then in library …” He paused. Then he continued with a request: “Dad, I want you to cover your eyes for this part. And, I’m so embarrassed that I’m going to tell you this very quietly.” I covered my eyes and then he began to confess all about what he had done in an inaudible whisper.
I uncovered my eyes, interrupted him, reaffirmed my love, and reminded him that we always want him to tell the truth. He proceeded, a little louder this time, to tell me about thing he had shouted.
Sin, Guilt, Shame, and Hiding
Quite some time ago, a man and a woman chose to do the one thing that they knew was forbidden. Their eyes were opened, the guilt of their actions pressed down on them, and, in utter shame and humiliation, they hid in a place they were sure their Father wouldn’t be able to find them.
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. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
Ever since [biblegateway passage=”Genesis 3:1-24″ display=”Adam and Eve chose sin and self”] over faithfulness to their Father, we have all struggled with the same pattern. Sin. Guilt. Shame. Hiding. When we sin, our first instinct is to hide in shame or to cover up what we have done. Then the Good Father—the one who is already well aware of all that has taken place and the eternal ramifications that would fall on his broad shoulders—comes looking and asks, “Where are you? Why are you hiding?”
Being Found (out) by the Father
It’s a strange thing, as a parent, to know that your child has to fess up about something when you already know all about it. You have to give him a chance to come clean and you pray that he tells the truth, that he lets himself be found. Once Owen told me the whole truth, and after pulling him in for a big hug and kiss on the forehead, I asked, “Buddy, doesn’t it feel good when you let the truth come out? You don’t feel so sad and scared inside anymore, do you?”
He had been found out. And, strangely, he was finally at peace.
In the aftermath of our sin and in the midst of our guilt and shame, when God comes looking for us in the garden in the cool of the day, a million things go through our minds. But, the one thing we need to do is to let ourselves be found. Being found may be a fearful thing. But, our Father doesn’t meet us with condemnation, guilt, and shame. He picks us up, embraces us, and makes it all alright.
What about you?
Are you hiding? Do you need to be found by your Father? Step out from behind your shame and let yourself be found.