For over a year God had placed these words in my head…”Live Eternally…on Earth”. It can catch you off-guard if you don’t read between the dot, dot, dots. It’s not some New Age thought about us always living here – HEAVEN’S NO! Rather, it is a call to live the way we were meant to…FOR A PLACE WE HAVEN’T GOTTEN TO YET and FOR THE PLEASURE OF A GOD WHO CREATED US AND MADE A WAY FOR US TO BE WITH HIM FOREVER!
Our Church family began The Story last week. I knew from the beginning that this experience would be powerful – how can the living, active, powerful Word of God not extend its life, action, and power to the one(s) who dare to open its pages…read its pages…live its pages?! But, oh! The overwhelming flood of Truth – this frame almost explodes!
When I sit in on a sermon or a class one thing that I always come with is pen and paper (and if it’s the Word being taught, I bring that as well!). I journal, I write, I take notes, I pray with pen. God told the Israelites what they should do, but He also knew the power of the written Word! So, He spoke and He wrote. I am hoping that as I write on paper that I am also etching into my brain and heart these words worth remembering. So, for the next 30 weeks or so, I am planning on adding a third dimension to my habits – wanting to really plant these seeds well within, so that they will grow and produce much fruit. I am going to “Journal” here my random notes and underlinings and conversations that have to do with The Story. So, here we go:
Chapter 1…Sunday and Wednesday of week 1:
We were created for eternity…to never die…to live in perfection and in perfect communion with God! Adam and Eve began their lives fully living – they were born into the life we are now dying to live.
Since The Choice of mankind to sin – disobey God – we no longer have one life – living in harmony with God, man, and creation – but two. We have life in the Upper Story…the life that draws us to and/or keeps us in relationship with God – our ultimate purpose in life. And we have life in the Lower Story…the story of our earthly life – the one tarnished by sin, but redeemed by Christ…that now, instead of living harmonious with the eternal, fights against it. Adam and Eve had both – the Upper Story and the Lower Story (or as God has defined to me, the Eternal Life and the Earthly Life), but they didn’t know that because both “danced” as one…both enjoyed perfection and unbroken relationship with God…they couldn’t define where one ended and where one began.
“Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness…So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:26-27
We were made in the image of God, Who is community in His very nature (“our image”). God knew His creation was good after making Adam, but when He created Eve so that he would have someone to commune with, He said it was very good! God knew it wasn’t good for us to be alone; it wasn’t in His nature to create like that. So, He made mankind in His image, with emotions and body parts and thoughts and order (some of us – me – could use a little more of that organization!) and creativity and community. He – His image – is holy, passionate, glorious, wonderful, beautiful, and so much more! Because we were created in His image, we are supposed to bear that image! Adam and Eve had long walks and talks with Him – they knew God like no one else on earth! In Eden, they perfectly bore the image of the God Who created them! We also have every opportunity, daily, to walk and talk with God, and to know Him like the angels and men of old (in the old covenant) never had a chance to! We also have every capability to bear the image of God because of the Person of Jesus – The Holy Spirit – living within us! He has made a Way…but we’re not there yet in our studies…so…until…
So what happened? And why did God allow it to happen? Adam and Eve were enticed by sin, and through a series of back and forth words with Satan, they chose to disobey God. It had nothing to do with theories of “well what’s bad to God may be okay for me”…no, they knew! They knew precisely because they knew Who created them, why they were created, and they had been living in perfect peace in the roles and boundaries God had placed them. They knew because as soon as they sinned, they knew they were no longer clothed…physically, yes…but more so, spiritually, to be in the presence of God! Sin still does that -strips us, shames us, and keeps us hiding from God.
They had allowed the evil one to lure their thoughts away from Truth – they had been convinced that they lacked something. That God was holding out on them…keeping them from enjoying life to the fullest. We do that, don’t we? Our parents shield our eyes and ears from social and entertaining pollution, and because we think they’re keeping something “good” from us, we step over those boundaries when we are away from them. We get an instant feeling of “good” as we’re participating in the disobedience, but later – even years later, when we’re seeking a life of purity before God, when we just don’t want to think on those things anymore, we struggle to not hear and to not see them. We pray over and over for God to take the images or words out of our mind’s eye! Or we try ____________ or we try ___________ just because someone told us not to. We do it because we just want to know and isn’t the increase of knowledge and wisdom of the things of the world fulfilling? Even the wisest man who ever lived negated that theory:
Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure…it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere. Eccl. 2:10-11
Then God banished them from the Garden. Seems harsh, doesn’t it? Would you believe it was a gift? Couldn’t God have just kept Adam and Eve from sinning by stepping in right before the wrong was done? Yes, but then, wouldn’t we know that we really didn’t have the freedom to choose to love Him? Wouldn’t we know, at that point, that God had lied to us and had really just created a world of puppets, with no real choice? How does that sound to you? I have at different times cried out to God to take away my will because I knew I would just keep on sinning, but He didn’t. He wants us to be with Him because we want to be, not because He forces us to be. So, God banished them, lest they eat from the Tree of Life after having eaten from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. (Before, it would have been fine to eat from the Tree of Life – Perfection for all eternity is exactly what we were meant for!) A gift! How would this world be if we were told we would be living forever here, in the land of sin? The very hope of the Christian is that we don’t have to live here forever! Had God not allowed death by keeping Adam and Eve from the Tree of Life after their choice, our salvation never would have happened. See, God guarded their eternities, and our’s, by allowing death – for He knew the day would come that He would have to give all – His own Son – over to death in order to give us our Life back. And He wanted to! After Adam and Eve made their choice, God also had a choice to make…to live eternally without the mankind He chose with pleasure to create or to make a way to bring them back to Eden someday. Praise God, He chose the latter!
Then the world got bad…really bad! The world got so bad that there was one man left who alone honored God. Noah. God would choose Noah to preserve life on a boat while He destroyed the rest of the world who had chosen to give themselves over to sin…forgetting their Creator and His standard of Holiness.
God could have washed His hands of us; instead, He came and used His hands to wash our feet. But that is later…
Today, nothing is as it should be. Sin changed relationships: between mankind and mankind, between mankind and nature, but mostly between mankind and God. Now, between us all, there is strife and striving and struggle and sin. There is disappointment and deceit and deformed desires. Sin is the disease that kills, steals, and destroys. But Salvation is on His way, and just like from the beginning, He has always been about creating Life! So, we wait; all the while praying, “Come Lord Jesus, come!”