You think you know something. And then you find out that you really had no clue.
Yesterday my Scripture class was learning about the Fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Ever since taking an Old Testament Scripture class in college, I have had a deep love and appreciation for the Old Testament. Perhaps my “love” isn’t quite as passionate as it should be, but there are parts of the Old Testament that I will return to and soak in the goodness of salvation history. The story of creation and the fall of man is one of those stories.
I was guiding them through Gen. 3 where the serpent began to wheedle his way into the innocent hearts of the first couple. Reviewing the story again I was amazed by the goodness of God and the way He loved us from the beginning. He asks little of us and when we fail to give Him that little, He is quick to promise redemption.
The serpent from his very first words is twisting the beauty and goodness of God and tries to portray Him as a harsh dictator. “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden?'” Very quickly the loving generosity of God is portrayed as miserly withholding. “You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” He dares to blatantly contradict God yet he always operates under half-truths. Adam and Eve do not die an immediate physical death. Yet the death they undergo is of a far more detrimental sort–they die spiritually and face separation from God.
The serpent sows seeds of doubt in the hearts of Adam and Eve. “Does God really have your best interests in mind? Is He holding out on you? Can you really trust Him?” They begin to wonder if perhaps everything they never knew they wanted could be found within the fruit of this tree. Perhaps God, all-good, all-giving, all-knowing, perhaps He cannot be fully trusted.
They buy stock in that lie and it turns out to be the worst thing they could have possibly done. The facade crashes around them and the lie becomes apparent. As they realize they are naked and have fallen from grace, I can only imagine that the serpent did not remain silent. At this point he was probably whispering to them how disappointed God was with them, how things could never be the same, and that their sin was irreparable, unforgivable, too big for the mercy of God.
It struck me while I was speaking to them about these doubts that Satan whispered to our first parents, that we hear those same words, too. I told them this. But my realization was that when I was their age, I wouldn’t have believed myself. I would have claimed to not listen to Satan or to mistrust God or doubt His intentions. When I was 15-16 years old I would have said I trusted God.
Now I am far closer to God and I am beginning to realize how little I trust Him. I begin to see how I do listen to the voice of the enemy and how I doubt God’s intentions, plans, and desires for my life. When I was the age of my students I would have thought that I didn’t doubt God because I was close to Him. Now that I am closer to Him, I see that I doubt Him. It is a beautiful mystery that in the spiritual life, the closer we come to the light (and I am by no means very close to holiness or this light) the more we can see our own darkness and imperfections. We see places that need to be purified and cleansed where before we thought we were perfectly healed and whole.
So we delve deeper into the garden of our hearts. We question why we run from the God who made us, loves us, and wills us into existence. We realize that we are running from Him. As we turn to hide and cover ourselves, we ask why we are ashamed and what needs covering. When I taught Totus Tuus I would have little kids tell me that if they were Adam and Eve, they would have listened to God. My response probably wasn’t as delicate as it should have been–I told them that they would have done the exact same thing and that Adam and Eve made the choice on behalf of humanity. My innocent little 3rd and 4th grade Totus Tuus children probably didn’t understand that. But if I reflect on my day and my life, I can see how nearly every day I have eaten the fruit and then run away from the sound of my Lord seeking after my heart so that he may simply be with me. He comes to seek me out and forgive me and I run away, saying I am unforgivable.
Lord, help us to delve deeper. Grant us the grace to dig beneath the surface and look past what we have assumed to be true. Help me to trust in You with a genuine trust that will enable a wholehearted joyful surrender.