Thursday, 1 February 2007

Eve's choice and mine

I asked the kids in my Korean/English Bible class last Friday night who the first person was. As always, Grace put up her hand, leaning my way and panting earnestly. I knew what her answer would be – what it always is. I looked her way and she strained harder, wiggling her fingers and whispering, “Teacher! Teacher!”
I nodded at her.
“Jesus!”
She smiled broadly and contentedly. I had to laugh. Grace has taught me an important lesson. She knows that no matter what the question, Jesus is always the answer!

Annie, another little girl in the same class, has taught me another important lesson. For her, the answers aren’t nearly as important as the questions – and the most important question is always “why?” That’s why she was the first to put up her hand when I was telling the group what the book of Genesis tells us about Adam and Eve and the beginning of trouble in the world.
“Why did God make such a terrible tree?”
“It wasn’t the tree that was terrible, Annie. It was Adam and Eve’s choice to disobey God that was terrible.”
“Why did God put it there if He didn’t want them to eat the fruit?”

Have you ever dared ask God such a question?

For a split second, I panicked. I had twenty-four kids listening intently – which alone was a miracle of proportions sizeable enough to drive all reason from my head – and I didn’t know what to say. I prayed, well, kind of prayed – it was more like an “Aaagh!” in God’s direction – and he told me what to say. (Don’t ask me how he told me so fast, I just know that the lights were turning on in my brain a nanosecond before the words were coming out of my mouth. This was God’s answer, in my words:
Annie, nice question. Keep thinking like that and you’ll know me someday. I put that tree there in the garden on purpose. I did that not because I wanted Adam or Eve to sin –ever! I did it because I gave Adam and Eve a gift I didn’t give to any other creatures, and that tree would let them use it.
The gift I gave Adam and Eve is the same one I gave you and every human being. You are all very, very special, because you are like me in a way no other creature can be. I have given you the gift of CHOICE. Choice involves having two things: a will, and the ability to supercede your own will. Sometimes people think that doing what you want is the same as having a choice – it isn’t! The animals do what they want, but they can never overcome their own wants.
Remember when Noah built that great ark? I told the animals to go to Noah and get on the ark. He didn’t have to trap them or lure them on – they just obeyed me. They obeyed me because they are my creatures, and I am God. Ah, obedience is a beautiful thing, and it resulted in a beautiful variety of animals being saved through the flood. The animals did what I made them to do. But how many people obeyed me? Only eight. Only eight people in the world got on that ark. The others made a choice. I gave them that choice and I can never take it back.
I suppose your next question is another “why?”, like “Why is choice so important?” Annie, only humans can love as I love. If I made Adam and Eve without the ability to sin, they would have obeyed me, followed me – but they could never love me or each other. Because I made them like me, they (and you!) are part of the deepest, most beautiful thing in the universe – love. I have shown you what love is in the way I created the trees, the mountains, the oceans, the stars…but none of my other creations can join me in loving.
Love hurts. It does! It hurts me, too! In fact, love means choosing to accept hurt in order to give good to someone else. If it doesn’t cost anything, it isn’t really love.
Eve didn’t want to give up the fruit I told her not to eat. She chose her own will instead of choosing me. Adam did, too. This was the beginning of trouble in the world. When they chose sin, they became sinners. It was a great tragedy. My beautiful creation – ruined because I gave choice! Was it a mistake? Never. I hate the sin that Adam and Eve allowed in, because it destroys all that is beautiful and clean and unselfish. But the choice – that is the door for love.
Now all human beings have become sinners. They are sinners because their parents are sinners. Just as dogs have baby dogs and cats have baby cats, sinners always have baby sinners! You didn’t make a choice to be one, you were just born that way. So what about YOUR choice? Yes, yes. Adam and Eve made a choice, but what about you? Just as their choice landed my whole creation in trouble, my Son, Jesus, has made a choice that will rescue it. Adam took away your choice, but Jesus gave it back. Now, you can choose your way – or me. This is the same choice that Adam had.
When I chose to love you, I had to choose against myself. I had to choose to punish my own, dear, innocent son. It wasn’t easy, but it was love. When you choose me, against yourself, you will finally be free from the slavery of sin. You will be able to do what my other creatures can’t do; you will be like me, able to give even what costs… You will love as I love!
Yes, Annie, that tree I put in the garden was a door. It was a door that let sin and death enter my perfect creation. But if I didn’t put it there, there would be no love. You have a great gift, because you can love, like God. But remember that a great gift comes with a great responsibility. With your choice you can go against me.
But choosing me, you have love and life.

2 comments:

Kathleen said...

Wow! Jen;
That is incredible! I have never seen it said so well. That should be in print. Can I please print it off? God has obviously given you a gift. I believe He will use it for His glory.

bjk said...

Came to the beginning and very glad I did....looking forward to reading the whole journey...