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Lenten Series #5: Our Shadow

“Then the man and woman heard the sound of the the Lord 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?” [Adam] answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked so I hid.”’ Genesis 3:8-10:

A.W. Tozer writes in his book The Pursuit of God, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”

I would add that what we think about God is initially and continuously informed by those who’ve held places of authority in our lives – fathers, mothers, step parents, coaches, grandparents, pastors, teachers, police officers, bosses and even DMV clerks.

These relationships most likely carry with them a mixture of light and darkness. They have shown us the beauty of God as well as shadowy side we hope doesn’t really exist. For better or worse they communicate who God is and they stand as a visible pathway into an invisible relationship.

We may also be informed about God through our own view of ourselves which is also mixed with both reality and fantasy, light and darkness, awareness and shadow. What we really feel to be true about us we project onto God.

In his book From Impasse to Intimacy, David Shaddock coins the term invisible marriage. He writes, “[The invisible marriage] embodies the unconscious and systemic factors that influence the way we feel and behave in intimate relationships.”

His purpose in writing about the invisible marriage is to give married couples an elevator or staircase into the bowels of their marriage, to see what springs of life or sink holes may be supporting it, giving it life or bringing about its demise.

He continues, “If our salvation…is to come not from isolation but from connection, we must begin by accepting our own confusing and contradictory feelings toward our partners.”

News Flash: This is not just about marriage but all relationships, especially our relationship with God.

In the garden, all was tov me'od including our connection with God. We knew there was nothing but goodness in God. There was nothing invisible or hidden, everything was as it was. But in Genesis 3 we dug out a basement and began hiding from God our confusion and our contradiction. This basement became our shadow – those things we hide, repress and deny specifically about God. And what Adam does and what we do, because we cannot stand to look at our shadow we project it onto God.

“But the Lord God called to Adam, “Where are you?”’

Oh how we long to hear these words from God. Where are you?! And oh how we long to know the answer. In Lent we have the opportunity to hear this question again from the very bowels of God, and if this question is to change us at all we must hear it from the basements we’ve locked ourselves in.

So what do you think about when you think about God? What confusion or contradictions are stashed in the basement that you believe have to be polished up before they can be set on the coffee table? What lives in your invisible marriage with God?

We have to remember that God comes toward Adam in his sin. Their relationship is still intact until Adam locks himself away behind leaves and tree bark. God isn’t afraid of our sin. Maybe we are afraid of our sin but that’s about us and not God.

Today we hear God walking in the garden calling out to us, where are you? And we do not need to answer with our clothes on. We don’t need to pretend our hand hasn’t been in the cookie jar. If there is a confession it is not different than the one Adam gives, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked…” Except this time don’t hide.

I leave you with the words of the prophet Mumford:

Love; it will not betray you dismay or enslave you, it will set you free Be more like the [one] you were made to be.

There is a design, an alignment, a cry Of my heart to see, The beauty of love as it was made to be.

In the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit.



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