God Reaches Out to Adam, to Us

A section of the Sistine Chapel ceiling that Michelangelo painted portrays God and Adam. We have a large canvas print of this above our desk. The print we have is a detail of just their hands (see both images here).

You will notice that God is reaching out, his finger extended as far as it will go, with his gaze intent on making a connection with Adam. Adam sits, arm resting on his knee, with this hand relaxed. The bodies of Adam and God are aligned parallel to each other: Adam's body angled away from God, and God's body angled toward Adam. Even the angels thrust their weight to push God closer to his son. The brushstrokes Michelangelo has chosen for God's hair, beard, clothing, and blue textile show the speed at which God has arrived at even the most lackluster effort from one of his children.

If Adam would reach out with this finger, just a little more, literally just lift his finger a tiny bit, he would touch God. As God's gaze is directed straight at Adam, Adam's glance may be interpreted as just off the mark; he does not know how close he is. It is as if a veil hides the reality of God's presence from Adam, and Adam is unaware of how close he is to his Father in Heaven.

I don't believe Adam had this attitude; I believe Michelangelo uses a portrayal of Adam to depict us as humanity in our attitude toward a loving God. If we would exert just a little faithful effort! In our minds do we imagine that God is distant? Are our prayers like a limp hand, bending in slight effort to make a connection with our Father in Heaven?

"But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people" (Romans 10:21).

Our loving father, God, reaches out in earnest, but we must choose to pierce the veil with our faithful prayers and efforts.


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