Friday, May 15, 2015

All Things New -- Adam and Eve: The Hard Road

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Start in Genesis, I said.


At first, I thought I'd skip Adam and Eve as too obvious, but as I read through Genesis I decided I should not skip the foundational, um, transition.

Because, while I'd love to talk about new beginnings being a season of hope and fresh starts, sometimes new beginnings are at rock-bottom...that place where everything went wrong and it all fell apart and all the good that was there is gone.

It may come with large portions of humiliation and regret.  Maybe so much humiliation and regret that there doesn't seem to be any way of recovering, with pain that makes even breathing excruciating.  How can one move forward after such overwhelming loss?

No one can teach us about that devastation better than Adam and Eve.

The background is, of course, Genesis chapters 2 - 4.

The first transition we encounter is  in Genesis 2:21-22 (I'm using the ESV today):

So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.  And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.

Adam woke up from his nap and found that there were physical differences in his body that he had to figure out...he was different; something had happened.  Then...there she was (for some reason the Monkees' Then I saw her I'm a believer... just randomly popped into my head).  It was the part he was missing.  The other part of himself. was different.  More.

The whole paradigm of mankind's life changed at that moment.  One mind became two.  Dialogue between equals became possible.  Teamwork.  They were counterparts...complimentary in all areas, in the geometric sense of complementary angles that make up the full 180 degrees. Or in this case, make up the full image of God.  It took them both.

And God saw that it was very good.

We have no idea how long that scenario lasted.  Days?  Weeks?  Months?  Was the serpent hanging around, having conversations with them, building a relationship that he could use?  The enemy is very patient; he never rushes his attacks but waits for the moment of prime vulnerability.  Then he strikes.

Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden'?  

And so it began...the convoluted argument of the enemy that convinced Eve that it would be a really good idea to do the forbidden thing. The first hint of the magnitude of the tragic consequences manifested when they looked at each other's nakedness and an awful feeling rose from within them that they labeled 'shame'.  Fear became the ruler where fear had never been known.  The  God whose only words to them had been loving, whose only actions had ever been for their good, whose communion blessed them every day became the One from which they hid.

The One who was Truth got only evasive answers and blame-shifting in response to His invitations to confess and repent.  Their relationship with God was broken; they could not mend it and they could not comprehend God's promise that He would.

When the judgements had been executed and they looked around, they found themselves banished from the garden, with nothing but each other, animal skins to cover themselves and what they had learned about cultivating the ground to sustain them.   Life was no longer about tending the garden and administering the kingdom on was about survival.  Being hungry, hot, weary, cold, sore...and all the while remembering what they'd had and how they'd lost it.  Arguments instead of conversation.  Hard work with little return. Blame.  Grief.  Depression. 

How does anyone deal with loss like that?

Eve had a promise...that her offspring would crush the head of the serpent who had led her astray.  That sounds so unrelated to the struggle of the moment, but what it meant was that the place where they were was not the end of the story.  Despite what was probably some pretty deep offense, they did not reject each other.  On the contrary, there is evidence that they made some effort to console and comfort one another.

Eve bore children.

How many, we really don't know.  We only know the names of three....and the third named one did not arrive until after more tragedy struck.  Again, there was loss and grief and blame. Cain banished, Abel dead.  Yet hope returned once more with the birth of Seth, who, in what must've been a much more marked degree than any of the others as it is especially noted in Genesis 5:3, was in the likeness and image of his father, Adam.  Eve recognized God's blessing in the birth of Seth.

Adam lived 800 more years after Seth was born; long enough to hold Noah's father, Lamech, in his arms before he died, if they had all stayed close enough around.  Eight generations of offspring could have been taught of  the value of following God and the cost of trying to live by one's own judgement from the ones who  had lived that lesson at a level no one else could even comprehend.

Adam and Eve show us that it is possible to focus on hope after devastating loss in order to deal with a new reality and find God's purpose there.  My struggles are almost laughably minor in comparison; what have I done to find hope in difficult times?  How have I tried to pass along what I have learned of God's faithfulness in difficult times to future generations?

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