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Is God Vulnerable?

Epics. Eras. Beginnings. What list of famous openers would be complete without including, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth?" Genesis is the book of beginnings. Out of nothing God brings forth everything, which was enough to tax even His strength–He rested on the seventh day. The crown of His creation was man and woman, created in the image of God. Of all creation man alone had a prototype: the godhead. "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness," the heavenly triumvirate decreed (Gen. 1:26). At last, among all of creation, there was someone suitable for the Lord; someone courted for a divine romance; someone made and fashioned like God.

God walked and talked with Adam and Eve each day in the garden, just as you and I do with those we love. Together they lived in complete transparency and trust. There was no reason not to; after all, they truly loved each other, and perfect love casts out all fear.

The Lord looked at this scene and the potential it held and called it very good. He was totally enthralled with His creation. All of His riches were available to Adam and Eve in the garden. Everything was perfect.

But (don’t you hate that word sometimes?)… But sin entered the picture and the young hopes were infected with the reality of sin’s insurgence. I was out riding my bike a few days ago and stopped at a busy intersection. A man and his son pulled up beside me in a Suburban and the little boy pleadingly, almost tearfully asked if I had seen a little black and white dog… "His name is Sport; call me if you see him." In my mind I hear the Lord’s voice in the same way, "Adam…? Eve…? Adam, Eve, where are you?" Sure, He sensed the unthinkable, but knew the inevitable.

If you read carefully, the first chapters of Genesis must have been a poignant period for the Lord. "Who told you that you were naked, Adam?" He looked at the man and woman’s feeble attempt to cover themselves with leaves. If it hadn’t been so pitiful it might have been comical: "Really, Adam! Leaf-slacks?" He created them perfectly, but He did not give them the ability to make clothes for themselves; they weren’t intended. Thus, their poor effort with leaves.

The Lord asked them an honest question, even though He must have known the answer," Have you eaten from the tree which I commanded not you to eat?" But honesty was gone and God got the run-around: "The serpent deceived me, and…" I wonder if it was tempting to think of yesterday and long for the way it once was. This was a heart-breaking loss the Lord grievously endured.

Fourteen verses later the text quickly, almost in passing, says, "The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them." What must have been gong through His mind and heart as he crafted those skins? This time, instead of creating something from nothing, He was obligated to kill something in order to create. This was His last act before sending them out of the garden. It’s almost as if while they were still with Him, He didn’t care about their nakedness or ridiculous clothes sewn from leaves. But in one more act of kindness and accommodation, He fashioned clothing from skins so they wouldn’t leave with embarrassment.

And then came Cain. Despite his surly attitude the Lord still came to him with loving counsel. "Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and it’s desire is for you, but you must master it" (4:6-7), the setting is reminiscent of a fatherly talk. On a rock too big to move from the field as they sat and conferred about life, God, as father and mentor, offered encouragement to His son-turned-man who was still acting adolescent by asserting his will. One verse later, six pages into history, murder is committed; no responsibility is taken. "Am I my brother’s keeper?"

It is not simply a manner of speaking when the Bible says, "Then Cain went out from the presence of the Lord" (4:16). How it must have torn at the Lord to watch with a wrenching heart as that man walked away and settled in the land of Nod (literally "wandering").

There is one bright spot after the Fall: Enoch. Moses records with brevity, "And Enoch walked with God." This is good, and God thought so, too. Enoch was taken to heaven without experiencing death because he walked with God. However, it struck me pointedly that there were seven generations who came and went before the Bible notes a man who walked with God. That’s a long time to walk alone!

Finally only six chapters into an epoch beginning with high hopes and extraordinary expectations, the Bible confesses, "And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on earth, and He was grieved in His heart" (6:6). Could an era end more painfully than this one did? Could a father’s heart hurt more intensely than God’s must have on behalf of His creation? Could a love ever be more spurned more carelessly? Could hope ever fall so far again?

This is more than a poignant look at the heart of God. It’s a saga about relationship. This thing we have in common called Christianity is not merely religion or philosophy. It is interaction, give and take; vulnerability; joy and sorrow; ecstasy, pain, mutual love: Relationship. Sure, God is King of the Universe, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, King of kings and Lord of lords. But in our presences, He doesn’t really throw those titles around much. He prefers to go by "Father" and "Husband."

I don’t think of any relationships that are more intimate and caring than parent and mate.

Our Father is integrally involved with our lives on every level, from mundane to the critical. He isn’t too concerned with keeping the moons of Venus in the right order, although He certainly does this. Really, He’s much more interested in us. Have you ever come home and asked your wife what she had for lunch? Why? Not because you cared about lunch, but because you were interested in her. You’ve also come home and told her about the computer going down and taking your latest spreadsheet with it. You know, the one you spent two days developing. Why? Because you share life together, from the mundane to the critical. The Lord calls us His bride because He likes the relationship implied within that title. Why do parents feel cut out of the picture when their teenager won’t take off the Walkman and talk to them? Because life is relationship and at that point it has become one-sided. Why does a boy who’s bigger than his dad cry tears down his dad’s back when he doesn’t make the team? Because life is relationship, covering the gamut from music to heartache. God calls Himself Father because that means relationship, and that’s what He is all about. Have you ever gotten down on your knees and looked your boy in the eyes to see if the words, "I love you" were making into his heart? or told your daughter you were proud of her as she headed off to the Christmas formal? or held hands with your wife as you walked the dog along the dam at the lake? Knowing Christ is no different. It is relationship, start to finish.

Preston Gillham

About the Author

As a co-founder, Preston Gillham led Lifetime for 30 years. Preston is a writer, speaker, and leadership guide. He has authored numerous articles and several books including No Mercy and Battle for the Round Tower. He blogs on “Life and Leadership”. More about Preston, his writings, speaking, and his consulting practice can be located at PrestonGillham.com.