What is the sound of God moving in your life?

What is the sound of God moving in your life?

Gen 3:8 “They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD…”

Most of us know the story of Adam and Eve. It’s an ancient story full of meaning, offering buried clues explaining the subtleties of life, why things are as they are, how they work, and holding up a mirror to ourselves.

The Hebrew Scripture portion of this Sunday’s lectionary readings is from the Genesis creation story. And I stumbled on something I’d never in my life seen before. The translation I was reading used a different phrase I was unfamiliar with to describe when God came looking for Adam for their regular coffee time. (Okay, I know they weren’t drinking coffee, but it was their routine time to hang out together to socialize.) The NRSV reads, “They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze.” I’ve pretty much lived my life with two main translations of the Bible, the King James Version and the New International Version (how evangelical, right?). And both read that they “heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day.” The cool of the day versus the time of the evening breeze.

Of course I had to go look it up. What does the actual Hebrew text say? And sure enough, it is “at [the time of] the wind of the day”, the word “wind” being the famous Hebrew word, “ruach,” meaning spirit, breath, wind.

Mind blown.

A new description triggering new images, new thoughts, new ideas.

Adam and Eve heard God walking in the garden. What did that sound like? Godzilla pounding the earth with his steps on his march to Tokyo? I’d always imagined it to be the rustling of leaves as the breeze blew, a gentle indicator of divine presence. And this “new” but more accurate translations confirms that. They heard God moving in the breeze.

So what? It reminds me that God often reveals his presence in gentle ways. In refreshing ways. We tend to think of God acting and moving in the dramatic, like in parting the Red Sea for Moses and the Hebrew slaves, or raining down fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah. Or, moving to the New Testament, when Jesus’s fame spread because of the show-stopping miracles he performed. We want our water-into-wine moments. We want dramatic healings, the restoration of lost limbs, the raising of the dead.

But in reality, isn’t it more the low-key, quiet things that actually reveal God at work? Isn’t it more the slow, slow hand gradually shifting things in our lives, aligning things for our good over the long term? I can recall only a scant handful of times when God has acted abruptly in my life, interrupting my circumstances and displaying breath-taking changes. But I can look back over my life and see the footprints of God, the fingerprints of his involvement over the long ebb and flow of years in my life, leading me to where I am today. Like those old saints at the church I grew up in, who’d give their testimony at Sunday evening services: “I’ve lived 75 years, and the Lord has been faithful all the years. He’s never let me down.”

I didn’t believe those old folks back then, and truthfully, I don’t believe them now. We tend to overlook the rough spots, those hard times, when we look back over a large stretch of years. I don’t believe for a moment that those old folks, saints though they might have been, never had moments when they questioned whether God had abandoned them. Even Jesus experienced moments of crisis when he questioned why God had forsaken him. It is a truly human experience, if momentary, no matter how accurately it may or may not reflect reality. But thankfully, the long arc of our lives tends to reveal a divine steady influence.

This scene from the garden, when Adam and Eve heard the sound of God moving, seems to me like an accurate description of how divine activity normally shows up in our lives.

So it begs the question. What does God’s movement in your life sound like?

In your day to day existence (remember, in the garden, God’s presence was a daily occurrence), what are the telltale footfalls, the “sound,” of God? It can be as calming and refreshing as an evening breeze — moments that bring peace and restorative balance. What are the patterns, the fingerprints of God showing up in your life? Like that serenity that envelopes your morning coffee. They’re there if we’ll slow down enough to notice.

This new translation of an age-old, well-worn story of God moving “in the cool of the day,” more literally rendered “in the breeze of the day,” challenges us to be watchful. Not for the dramatic, the hurricane winds that uproot trees and cause tidal wives. But the gentle, even subtle, movement that is easily overlooked. Moments that bring pause in the chaos, that refresh your soul after a long, hot, and harried day. To me, this is a better theology, a better metaphor for how God shows up in our day: not in thundering Godzilla steps, but in the soft caress of a breeze.

Have a peaceful and breezy Sunday.


ref: Genesis 3:8
Photo by Saad Chaudhry on Unsplash