Advent, Advent Devotional, Christmas, Promised Hope

Naked and Afraid

DECEMBER SECOND

GENESIS 1-3

I try to picture God in Eden, leaning down, bending low, coming near. Prepared to do His most creative work yet. With fresh dust in hand, He fashioned a being that He’d call man. He pulled him close and exhaled long. His breath found the man’s lungs, and the man found life.

God then planted a garden in Eden, full of trees that grew fine food. He placed this man, Adam, in the garden to work it and gave him just one rule.

You may eat from any plant you want, except the tree in the middle of the garden. When you do, you will surely die.

Sometime later, God made a partner for Adam. Not from the dust but Adam’s flesh and bone. And He called her Eve.

And God said it was very good.

One day the enemy found Eve alone because that’s where the accuser does his best work.

He asked Eve questions, challenging what God had said. And when that wasn’t enough to break her, the enemy cast doubt on God’s motives, whispering distortions of His truth.

Isolation. Lies. Doubt. The enemy’s trio of choice.

Entertaining these clever spins of the deceiver, Eve allowed them to dance freely in her mind, repositioning what she already knew to be true, and her doubt grew into mistrust.

Maybe God IS holding out on me. Perhaps He doesn’t have my best interest at heart. What if?

And Eve, giving satan more credence than he deserved, ate from the one forbidden tree. She offered the same to Adam, and he ate.

And at that moment — when they turned away — their disobedience ushered in sin. They found themselves separated from the One with whom they had intimately walked and talked in the garden.

Once oblivious to their nakedness, they became painfully aware of it. (Because sin ain’t nothing if not painful.)

They gathered some fig leaves to cover themselves.

Hearing God calling for them, they hid. But God pursued. Finding them, He asked questions to which He already had answers—giving them a chance to confess. Come clean.

Their shame quickly turned to blame; Eve blamed the serpent, while Adam blamed God.

Oh, how life had changed for Adam and Eve. The whole earth had changed. But God’s love for them had not; not one bit!

Even in Eden, God spilled the first blood, a sacrifice for their sin. And in His mercy, He used the skins to cover the two He loved. And He made a promise.

Yes! God made a promise — right there in the garden where broken began — that the Seed of Eve would eventually come and crush the enemy, restoring hope for the broken people and their broken relationship with the One who loved them.

Hope is coming.

REFLECTION

Can you imagine life in Eden? Before hope had a name? Before fear, guilt, or shame. No? Me either.

But I know broken. And nothing makes me want to run and hide and throw on a few fig leaves like having my broken exposed. And, I tried to hide too long, suffering needlessly underneath those abrasive fig leaves of mine.

Have you ever tried to hide from God? Are you hiding even now? Does your sin feel too great, or do you love your favorite sin too much? Perhaps the chasm between you seems too far.

Because God loves you, He will pursue you. You can run and hide, don those fig leaves if you must. You can be angry at Him, and claim He isn’t a good god or that He doesn’t even exist.

But out of His great love for you, He will pursue you.

For those of you who have tossed aside your fig leaves, I celebrate with you! Doesn’t it feel good? Be alert to the enemy. Don’t give him your ear or your heart. Not for a second.

Continue to let God’s love cover you. Let Him love you lavishly!

PRAYER

God, Your love amazes me. But there are days when I hear the distortions of Your truths, and I, too, allow them to dance around in my head instead of taking each one captive, filtering them through the truth You have already spoken. Those can be bad days, Lord.

Too often, I forget and live in fear instead of in the security of Your immeasurable love. But Father, I want to trust in You when I am afraid.

You created us for Your pleasure. And when doubt danced into disobedience, it did not diminish Your love for us. Our greatest hope began with our darkest moment. May Your hope shine brightly within me this Christmas. Amen.

WORSHIP

If you doubt God’s love for you, I understand. Doubt comes too easy. But He loves you. Deeper and wider. Higher and longer than you can imagine.

Friend, we’ve all traded for fig leaves. We’ve all looked away — maybe for a moment, a while, or a season too long. We’ve acted or thought our way into separation from the One who loves us. Perhaps you’re reading this and have never realized there’s a chasm between you and a God who loves you. There is. But don’t lose heart.

For God, in His love, made a way for us to have a relationship with Him. Out of His great love comes our only Hope.

Today, light a candle as an act of worship. Get that favorite candle that smells of Christmas. If you think worship isn’t for you, light a candle anyway. I have prayed for God to pursue you and woo you to Himself. Light the candle. Expect His presence, and be surprised by His love.

As we sit in the light, let’s celebrate the hope that began in the dark moments of Eden. There’s no magic in the candle. But there is power in worshiping the One who created and loves us.

I would love to hear your comments.

And, don’t miss tomorrow!

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