The scriptural ditches are littered with moments and even seasons of regret, loss, and woulda-coulda-shoulda. 14 years ago, I probably would have listed the most tragic moments in the Bible as follows (in no particular order):
- 1. Samson dying in the Philistine ruins blind and enslaved as a result of his own choices.
- 2. Absolom’s death in flight from his father David after failing to overthrow his father’s throne.
- 3. Ananias & Sapphira’s deceiving of the Jerusalem church - it was such a pox on the fledgling church’s complexion.
Honorable Mention would include: the deaths of Hophni and Phinehas, rebel sons of the priest Eli; the resentment of the prodigal son’s older brother; and, Israel’s turning to worship of a golden calf while Moses was on Sinai face to face with God. Each of these instances holds the bitterness of unfulfilled potential, which I think always carries with it a particular disappointment and frustration from what might have been.
But, as devastating and tragic as each of them is, for my money, there is another moment that stands head and shoulders above them all.
In Genesis 3, the Bible says that immediately after Adam and Eve succumbed to temptation, they heard the sound of God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the evening. And not seeing the man and his wife, God called to Adam.
Here’s the tragedy: He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” As a human father all too capable of losing his temper, wanting some me-time, and forgetting that loving my kids means serving them, I can’t imagine anything that would hurt my heart more than my kids being afraid of me. Or, them hiding from me because they thought I wouldn’t love them anymore because of something they did.
And, that’s why I can’t even imagine how Adam’s response must have broken God’s heart just as had the original sin. It added insult to injury for them to actually hide from him.
As an heir of Adam, I get the hiding game. I do it. Miss my self-imposed quota of “quiet time”, leave too many dates blank between prayer journal entries, or whatever other distractions the Accuser throws at me, and I’m as apt as Adam to abandon my post. To open back up the prayer journal is an indictment in and of itself, rather than the opportunity to throw myself back at my Father who’s looking for me, calling my name. Walking through the garden in the cool of the evening.