When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees. Then the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
He replied, “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.”
And the Lord God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife. (NLT)
First came the shame. Adam and Eve were caught out by God, having done just what he told them not to do. They did what we all do when stricken with guilt. They evaded responsibility first by hiding and then by blaming. The intended perfect relationship between God and his human creation was now impaired. Instead of relating in intimacy with a deity who walked in their garden, they scrambled to hide in the trees from the one who made them, loved them, and still sought them.
Then came grace. God didn’t just turn his back on them in disgust. He did banish them from his perfect presence but as the rest of the Bible makes clear, he will offer a way back. Their disobedience has consequences but through the grace of Jesus they can avoid the ultimate consequences.
And grace is also expressed in their being clothed. Probably a pictorial way of indicating that God provided some sort of covering for their shame, some sort of hope for the future. They could no longer live in paradise but they could live with some dignity and in the context of divine mercy.
Shame is a sad reality. Grace is the greater reality.