“What did you do?” That question typically escapes the mouth of us dog owners whose furry friends have tested our patience. “Chester, did you chew up my shoe?” “Did you eat the kitty’s food . . . again?”

Sometimes we think of God that way, like a frustrated pet owner or an always-disappointed parent. But the biblical narrative reassures us that isn’t God’s heart. “What did you do?” wasn’t the first question the Creator asked when our first ancestors rebelled against Him and His ways; it wasn’t even His second question.

God’s first question was, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9). Our all-knowing Maker wasn’t inquiring as to Adam’s whereabouts. He was inviting the frightened couple to come out of hiding and back into relationship with Him. He was offering to meet Adam and Eve in the overwhelming stress of their brokenness and shame and to help them sort through the messy consequences of their rebellion within the safe confines of their Creator’s love.

God’s second question was, “Who told you that you were naked?” (Genesis 3:11). This question zeroed in on Adam’s emotional state of shame. Building off of the first question, God called Adam to reenter the borders of a caring relationship where he and Eve could address shame’s dreadful grip with their Creator.

God’s third question, “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?” (Genesis 3:11), was an important question, but not the first order of business.

Life in God’s good world has never been the same since those tragic events in Eden. One thing that remains a constant, however, is His loving invitation. In times when we stray, God invites us to begin working through the layers of our brokenness in relationship with Him.

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Acts 5:1-16