This dirt road…A most familiar one. I walked it, ran it, rode it, and explored it. A large percentage of my childhood memories are nestled in the shelter of the corn or the barn in the distance.
An abrupt end to this dirt road, however, brings an abrupt end to my memories. Upon approaching the tree line, there is a creek. One which my parents never let me cross even when the water ran low. I remember looking at the path that continued beyond the creek as if the water had been an afterthought and the path had always existed. It seemed logical that it was meant to be crossed. I used to resent the fact that I could not do so. What harm could possibly come from walking through 6 inch deep water? Then one day…
The shadowy figures of the snakes slithered along the creek bed. They were seemingly unaware of the fact that I had just been imagining myself exploring in the same water. I had pictured myself jumping from rock to rock, using overhanging branches for support when needed, as I followed the winding creek path to an unfamiliar place. It had seemed so necessary and desirable up to this point. Now, the thought of exposing my flip flopped feet to serpents was not so appealing. My parents’ rules? They now made much more sense.
“And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.”- Genesis 3:22-24
You know the story…Adam and Eve had eaten the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They were now banished from the garden and no longer had access to the tree of life. The crafty serpent, Satan, had caused them to doubt God’s authority by causing them to question his motives. “Did God really say…? Did God really mean…?” Those few words produced a deadly line of thinking that thousands of years have not been able to erase.
As a child, hearing the story of Adam and Eve’s initial sin often makes us think “I can’t believe they did that! Thanks a lot first man and first woman.” Then we grow into adults and succumb to the same temptation this first man and first woman faced. Did God really say that? (fill in your own blank)… Did God really mean that? Surely God was just having an off day when he told me that…We view his expectations as cumbersome and his limitations as inconvenient.
If we could only fully grasp the heart of God. Maybe we could then partially grasp the mind of God. His love for us is so deep and his will for us is so purposeful. He longs to help us to abundantly fulfill this purpose. He knows the path to get there. And he knows the creeks we should and should not cross along the way.
But look deeper into this story. Have you ever wondered why God did not want them in the garden anymore? Was he so disappointed in them that he could not look at them? Was it for punishment? Was this the beginning of the “time out” we use with our own children?
I assure you that God was not attempting to receive the world record for the longest time out ever given. I also assure you that God eagerly looks upon the face of his children in spite of their mistakes because his love is so profound. Dig deeper and see that, like so many other things with God, his purpose was much more interwoven and complex.
If Adam and Eve had eaten from the tree of life, they would have lived forever in a sinful state and sin-cursed universe. Such a punishment would mean no possibility of salvation to live in a new heavens and new earth without sin. Furthermore, after God banished them, he did not twiddle his thumbs and ponder how in the world he could undo what Adam and Eve had done. He had a plan already in place through Jesus Christ. I guess God knows what he is doing doesn’t he?
Thirty some years later, this road looks no different. My daughter and my dog have enjoyed it quite often just as I did when I was younger. The same barn, the same dust, the same crops and the same creek. She has questioned my “creek rules” the same way I used to question my parents. My dog has questioned me, as well. I am quite sure of it. She is not as stubborn as I once was. So a simple “trust me” has sufficed for her.