Leaning Into Lent: Naked and Afraid

Have you ever watched the show “Naked and Afraid?” It’s a survival show that involves two people usually a man and a woman being dropped in the wilderness. They have nothing with them except one personal item and they are naked. They have no food and no water and they have to try to survive for 21 days. It’s fascinating to see. In some cases, they are dropped in deserts. In some cases in the heart of the Amazon, but they are always dropped somewhere that makes it difficult to survive. 

I was struck by one episode where the two contestants were walking through the desert and discovered that there were all these little briars. It was painful to watch their feet trying to get used to those little things and eventually, they both formed makeshift shoes to protect their feet. 

Hear now the word of the Lord from Genesis:

2:15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.2:16 And the LORD God commanded the man, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; 2:17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.” 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” 3:2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; 3:3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.'” 3:4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die; 3:5 for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 3:6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. 3:7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.

I wonder what it would do to our perception of this very familiar passage to look at the Garden of Eden like a wilderness. At least in my understanding and teaching surrounding the Garden of Eden, this was paradise and this is what we are all deprived of because of the choices of these first people. 

Maybe I have been watching too much Naked and Afraid, but here are two humans just formed out of the dust of the earth trying to figure out how to relate to each other, their creator, and their surroundings. It kinda sound a lot like what we are trying to do every day, doesn’t it? 

And in the midst of their trying to figure out what it means to be in their world, there is a voice that brings doubt to what the Creator has said. Many people interpret this being as Satan, but the text doesn’t provide that interpretation. The text says it was just a talking serpent. And just like us, the man and the woman have to wrestle with which voice to believe and which voice to trust. 

And when they realize that they have been deceived, that they have listened to the wrong voice, they are embarrassed and just like us, they try to hide themselves realizing that they are vulnerable and realizing that they are naked for the first time. 

Those makeshift clothes are what we are still creating today. We are still trying to hide our vulnerability from each other and indeed from our Creator. We are still trying to hide the ways that we have been deceived and the ways that we have been duped. 

The season of Lent asked us to journey naked and afraid into the wilderness, not knowing what we will encounter. We will probably at some point want to get out. We will probably at some point want to hide. We will probably at some listen to the wrong voice.

But still the Spirit of God invites us, calls us, into the wilderness, naked and afraid.