I’ve spent a happy day spring-cleaning this blog. I deleted everything to start with and then reposted just a handful of blogs. Why? Because each week teaches something new and each week I experience 7 day’s worth of change, and what I wrote two years ago is nowhere near what I would write today.
Once in a blue blue moon we discover something that changes everything, and a thought that came to me last week changed absolutely everything in my life (hence the Spring clean!)
I don’t know how you view the first few chapters of Genesis. Do you believe in it absolutely and literally, as a historical and recordable document, that there was a snake who spoke, the embodiment of evil, and an apple tree in the middle of a garden….? Or do you regard it as a wonderful metaphor revealing the nature of God and the miracle of creation, a metaphor of truth, couched in terms our puny human minds can grasp? I think of it as the latter. This isn’t to say that I don’t believe it. I believe every word of it, the truth shines through the language and imagery. I know that God made man, the first man we now call Adam. I know that the world he knew was perfect, self-sustaining, unspoilt, and I know that his union with God was total, because he came from God. I know that there is evil, and that is what we call ‘the devil’ and I know that the devil is a powerful and active influence, an entity that no one with eyes to see can deny. Live long enough and you will see evil. I know that when there was society (man and woman in the metaphor) we listened to each other rather than to God, and that, given the choice between God and self, we chose self. And I know that from that moment on, the world was no longer perfect.
I’ve known and believed all that for years. But if you believe that Genesis 1 through 3 are literally and historically factual, you may be right. Let’s not waste time arguing the toss.
Here’s the thing – this last few days I’ve learned something new, and something that will influence the rest of my life, every day until I pop my clogs, showing me where to go next, what to do next, how to be next;
The unGodly aspect of man, what we call ‘sin’, is not primarily about what we do or say. Our actions are the symptoms of a much deeper problem. That first instance of sin in Genesis is not about disobedience, or deceit. I’ve always thought it was about those two things – man disobeyed the commands of God and then hid from him, prevaricated and tried to deceive him. A perfect illustration of our sins of commission and omission. But I’ve been wrong – I’ve joined the story too late. The very first instance of sin, of stepping away from God, was man’s lack of trust in God’s inherent goodness.
First of all, before the apple and the snake and the fig leaves and all that… man chose to distrust the goodness and truth of God. Disobedience didn’t come first. Lack of trust came first and from that lack of trust came all the ruin and waste and chaos of life. When mankind doubted the goodness and perfect provision of God, the God who created every feather, droplet and breath in the whole blinkin’ universe, our relationship with him was broken. Not the bloomin’ apple, great though that imagery is.
What broke God’s heart (another metaphor, forgive me) was not theft and disobedience, it was our lack of loving trust. Mankind’s tendency to turn away from God, believing him to be as devious as we are.
If God was a God made of fire and we were creatures of water, how would we co-exist? If God was a God of light and we were little fat clouds of pitch black night, how could we co-exist? He is love, and love cannot co-exist with accusation and doubt. This is why man was banished from the Garden of Eden, from Paradise, a world of perfection. Not because of God’s decision and anger (although that was true) but primarily because fire and water, light and darkness, love and accusation are incompatible.
And the story can be completed by…. by what? By man? No chance. The story can be completed only by God. And so he completed it. He completed it in Jesus. A man of perfect trust, and perfect love. Our God of perfect provision and perfect love.
I haven’t trusted him wholeheartedly. I’m resolving right now to live in total trust from now on. Serene and all that stuff, always joyfully mindful of the goodness of God, as sure as the waters cover the sea. Promise. I am a creature of perfect trust from now on.
Yep, OK, you know me and I know me and so we all know that there are going to be days when I slip-side backwards with little grace. But this is for real, and I feel a great lightness, knowing that he is to be trusted. Understanding.
Not just ‘knowing and believing’ but knowing in very marrow of my bones.
And that changes everything. It changes what I will be doing this year and next, until I’m done and dusted. It changes tomorrow, it changes now.
I trust God with me. I trust God with all those I love and care for. I trust God with the future for all of us.