Smoke, Fun-House Mirrors, and Perception...

"For now we see obscurely in a mirror, but then it will be face to face. Now I know partly; then I will know fully, just as God has fully known me."  (I Corinthians 13:12)

There's a cute little Facebook flair button that I have that says: "I DO know it all...I just can't remember it all at once!" Well, I'm here to make a sordid confession...

...I don't know it all. In fact, I don't know anything. I'm being bombarded with challenges to my talents and abilities, challenges to perceptions that I've held for most of my life, and challenges to why I react and do the things I do. I'm being challenged on my list of priorities and what matters most in this life. For someone who is wrapping up the 40th decade of her life, I'm horribly deficient on answers.

I find myself back at square one wondering if I'm ever going to get to pass "Go". It seems I make it half-way round the Monopoly board of life when I mess up once again and roll doubles three times in a row. It's off to jail and I don't even have a "Get Out Of Jail Free" card. But you know what? I found out that I'm not destined to stay here. I'm not destined to be mired down in this struggle between my "old man" and my new flesh.

In their book Finding Purpose Beyond Our Pain, the authors Paul Meier and David L. Henderson tell about the birth of rejection. They talk about how God created Adam and Eve to have a completly transparent relationship with Him. They were exposed physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually to Him and each other. There was no fear in that relationship...

...until disobedience and sin entered in. Then the lies started - to themselves, each other, and especially to God. They were suddenly ashamed and felt vulnerable and defenseless. They tried to cover their nakedness by hiding. Not only did their sin weaken their relationship with God, it weakened it with each other. As the authors explain, "the seeds of rejection had been planted."

I had always looked at the end of the Eden story as God's rejection of Adam and Eve. I thought He had driven them out of Eden because they had been disobedient and had to bear the consequences of their actions. I had always looked at it as a punishment for their sin.

I think I've been wrong about my whole take on that.

I'm now wondering if it wasn't an act of tough love, but love nonetheless. What if it was all a part of God's plan to restore that relationship that was lost? God didn't hide Adam and Eve's nakedness - He covered it. He doesn't want us to hide our shame. He wants to expose it to the Light of Truth so that He can cover it with His mercy and grace.

His use of animal skins was a prelude to the sacrifice of Christ that would be made at Calvary to completely cover our sins and shame.

And His final act of love? Driving humanity out of the Garden. "Whoa! Wait a minute!" Yes, you heard me right. His final act of love on that fateful day was driving us out of the Garden of Eden. You see, had Adam and Eve eaten from the Tree of Life, they would have condemned all of humanity to living with the consequences of their rebellion. By banishing us from Eden, He protected our futures. He gave us the chance and hope of restoration.

When I look at the Garden of Eden story from that perspective, I realize that God knows me far better than I know myself. My view of things is woefully distorted and doesn't even begin to approximate reality. Therefore, I have to rethink my reaction to what's going on in my life.

Have I sinned? Most definitely. I do something stupid every day. Are the things I'm facing and the situations I'm dealing with the result of God punishing me for those sins? Yesterday I would have said probably.

Today I'm not so sure. I'm beginning to see these trials as my banishment from the "Garden" so to speak. I think God is rocking my world upside down so that He can make it the way it ought to be. I think He's challenging me in all these areas because I've gotten a little lax of late and I need to not only excercise some spiritual muscles, but I've got to start growing if I don't want to become stunted.

If I view it from that perspective, then not only is God not mad, upset, and disgusted with me, He's out there with the team colors on, rooting for my success! I feel like Helen Keller when she finally realized that Anne Sullivan was trying to teach her to communicate, not punish her and make her miserable. Once Helen realized what was going on, she became insatiable in her quest for knowledge.

I want knowledge...of God. I want to know Him, I want to love Him, I want to communicate with Him. I want to understand what He wants to teach me, and I want to become insatiable in my desire for His presence.

It's true freedom, and it's liberating.

"I don't want your sacrifices--I want your love. I don't want your offerings--I want you to know me." (Hosea 6:6 paraphrased)


Sherry said...

Oh I can't wait until I write my manzanita story. I think you'll relate. Stay the meantime, You go girl! You can do it! Woo hoo!