Now that I have your attention…in publishing my blog my objective has always been to be transparent in confessing personal faults, failures, challenges, etc. so that maybe one or two readers might be spared the pain of learning lessons others have already benefited from. Some weeks are more difficult to post than others depending on the subject matter or the freshness of the wounds or hurt. This may be one of those weeks.
We all have heard the story countless times. God tells Adam to stay away from just one tree but instead he yields to a tempting Eve and disobeys a directive meant for his benefit. Genesis 3 reads that Adam and Eve became aware of their nakedness and sewed together fig leaves to cover their exposure. But then something deeper happens that we often overlook. When God is calling Adam out of the garden Adam’s reply is that they were afraid and hid so that God would not see that they were naked. However, Adam and Eve had already created and were in fact wearing their fig garments when they heard God’s voice. So we must ask if Adam was afraid of exposing his genitalia or was he hiding something much deeper?
The fig leaf has always been used figuratively as symbolic of covering something up that may be distasteful or embarrassing. In more recent times the fig leaf is used metaphorically as an attempt to cover up something that is only a token gesture as the object being covered is still obvious and for the most part exposed. Fig leaves can be as long as ten inches and as wide as six inches. However when they are cut from the tree they exude a sticky gel like substance that can be quite uncomfortable when coming in direct contact with skin. To go to the lengths of covering up one’s “nakedness” with something so uncomfortable must somehow relay the desperation of attempting to hide something really ugly or shameful.
I am a shirt guy. I buy shirts like women buy shoes. I have easily 200 shirts in various closets. I’m a shirt whore. But I also have some fig leaves that I wear in certain situations so that my faults and failures are not overly exposed. Allow me to explain. The mother of my sons and I divorced in 1996. Say what you may about the reasons that led up to that painful decision, the divorce for me represented a failure-something I lost control of and did not cultivate enough to save. It was perhaps my first fig leaf.
I have been blessed with three young men as sons who are unique and individual whom I love dearly. But I was not a great father. I worked too much, I was absent for certain events, I didn’t spend nearly enough quality time with them, and I could go on.
Three fig leaves.
I was blessed with an opportunity to own my own business but in less than two years was forced to give it back to the creditors because of fierce industry competition and mismanagement on my part. I am still paying the price for that failure and increasing my fig leaf wardrobe. Through obstacles and life challenges I have not handled well I have developed or rather allowed to surface a deep resentment, a sometimes bitter attitude, an unexplainable anger and deep feelings of frustration and doubt even when trying to rely on my faith in God’s grace and strength as my only recourse. Yet another fig leaf. I could relay many similar stories of past mistakes, miscues and missteps that have added to my hidden fig leaf closet. I have much to hide, much that I fear admitting to the world and much I am ashamed of for fear of being exposed. My loins, my legs and most of my torso are covered in unseen fig leaves.
When God called out to Adam He knew exactly where he was hiding and why. And as Adam had tasted of the tree of he Knowledge of Good and Evil, he most likely knew God was on to him. Any attempt to cover his nakedness before God was futile. It was just a token gesture of modesty before a God who sees everything beneath.
Jeremiah 23:24; “Can a man hide himself in hiding places so I don’t see him? Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?”
Hebrews 4:13: “There is no creature hidden from His sight but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.”
God knows us inside and out, our fears, our lusts, our hurts, our doubts-nothing remains hidden from Him. Any attempt to cover ourselves is futile. But perhaps what is more significant is the thought process or reasoning behind our fear of being exposed to Him. Through the sacrifice of His Son and the dispensation of unending grace through our belief in the same we are set free from the chains of guilt and shame of our shortcomings. While our approach should be one of humble reverence and confession, our lifestyle should not resemble sackcloth and ashes, or sticky fig leaves.
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God”…Romans 5:1
“My grace is sufficient for you and my power made perfect in your weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly (and not hide behind fig leaves) about my weakness so that Christ’s power may rest on me”. 2 Corinthians 12:9.
Some of us may be in a season where we are not only covered in fig leaves but are hiding in the belly of a dark cave. We may be facing questions with no answers, situations with no solutions and a future where we can’t see any ray of light because of present darkness. The tears may be uncontrollable, or you may have few left. The intangible faith in an unseen God may be a real struggle for some, but the hope and the promises of a loving and merciful God can not be withheld from us even when we hide. Clothing trends may come and go but fig leaves have never been fashionable. Be clothed instead in grace and mercy, an ensemble that all believers share and is never out of style.