First Words
written by Rev Gary Heard

The first words spoken by God as recorded in the Bible after the fall are in the form of a question: “Where are you?” It has always struck me as a strange question in light of the circumstances: it comes from an all-knowing God, and is addressed to two people who only know one place on earth. And yet in recent days it has struck me as a question with much deeper intent and consequences, both for Adam and Eve, and for many people in this present day.

The search for one’s place in the world is one which is heightened today, with millions of people each year leaving their home land as refugees in search of a safe place. Many more are displaced from their home for various reasons, unable to return. One of the first markers of identity is the place we call our home, either nationally (“I am Australian”) or more locally in terms of where we live or work.

It is also a question we keep asking ourselves in terms of progress. To ask “Where are we?” is to question whether we have reached the place at which we thought we had arrived, or gained the benefits we considered possible in the light of our learning and discovery. This question is essentially one inviting us to take stock and consider the implications. When driving the car it is a clear indication that it is time to check the street directory to gain our bearings for the next part of the journey.

The question is also one of relationship, one which gets an airing with regularity around our household. The question arises in order to realign ourselves with another, and can be an indication of our lack of awareness – either of ourselves, or of the person we are calling. An attempt at conversation with another can be frustrating if the other person’s mind is focused elsewhere. Those who daydream can be brought back to reality when someone breaks through their thoughts by asking “Where are you?”

In a team sport, we also need to know where our teammates are, so that we can work in harmony with them in unfolding the team plan.
A simple question can raise questions of location, progress, relationship, focus and identity. In a constantly changing world, God continues to ask this question of those who seek to follow Him.

It might have been the first question, but it is still remarkably relevant.

November 2, 2003
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