Tuesday, September 3, 2013

"An Apple a Day...or maybe just a tiny bite..." Genesis 3: 1-24

     Can you imagine life without any sin?  Don’t you wonder about Eve, living in the Garden of Eden?  What must it have been like…walking with God in the mornings, naked, open, without sin or shame? 
      I don’t think I have ever even experienced a morning without sin or shame.  Don’t think I have ever started a day without feeling a little guilt and failure.  I would love to have been in Eve’s shoes for just an hour, to see how it felt to be pure and unashamed in front of God.  But she ruined that possibility with just one big bite!  No doubt she was related to me.  No self-control when it came to something that looked delicious!
     Eve took the apple, ate it, shared it with her man…and has shouldered a heap of blame since.  We don’t understand how she could be so stupid!  God WALKED with her, for heavens sake!  Offered her the whole world, a perfect world, a sinless world.  How could she make such stupid choices? Why couldn’t she just feel satisfied with what He provided?
      Eve had it all, but didn’t understand that.  She always wanted a little more.  Thought there was something out there in the world that she was missing.
     Eve was just like me.
     How many times have I reached out and taken a bite of an apple that God had clearly instructed me to leave alone?  How many times have I wanted just a little more than what I already had? Relationships, possessions…people, places, things that God told me to stay away from, but I just wanted one little bite.  Wanted to see what I was missing…and wound up with a belly full of sickening sin.  It’s so much harder to bite the fruit of self-control than the fruit of that sweet, juicy sin-apple.  It tastes so good for just a second...
      And then I follow the exact “sin steps” Eve did.  First I hide from God.  Slack off on my Bible study.  Stay busy and distracted.  Say quick, routine prayers.  Don’t want to be alone with God.  Don’t want to be still or quiet enough to face what I‘ve done.
     Next, the excuses start.  It wasn’t my fault.  I’m under so much stress.  Too much on my plate.  No one can be expected to live like this.  I deserve a little relief, a little reward.  I need a little “feel good” time.  My life has been so hard lately!  Can’t do this!
     Then comes the blame.  Everyone else is doing stuff like this…actually I’m a little less sinful than my neighbor.  Lord, have you looked at her lately?  And the world around me does it.  I can’t be expected to hold up in the middle of such pressure and temptation!  Everyone else gets by with stuff like this all the time!  It’s so hard to be good all the time...
     Finally, anger and resentment...I argue with God.  State all the reasons I shouldn’t be punished.  Try to bargain my consequences away.  I wind up whining about my situation to Him.  Praying tearfully for Him to “fix” the mess I’ve found myself in…and then the cycle starts over. Again.  
     The sweetest part of the “apple story” is not the juicy bite Eve took.  The sweetest part is when God covered her after with his own hands.  I guess you could say he sewed the first fur coat.  He showed her the road back to him.  But life would never look the same for Eve.  Or for any of us who live in this sinful world today.
     It took me a long time to truly understand the difference between forgiveness and consequences.  He will forgive me when I eat that apple, every time I ask.  But the results of my sneaking that bite will still be there  in my belly to live with.  Eve may have introduced sin into my world.  But I’ve done an awesome job of keeping it here!
     I’m ashamed when I look back at all the times I’ve asked Him to forgive me.  But then I think of my sin in comparison to  His infinite grace and mercy.  It’s bottomless.  And so instead of shame, I feel amazement.  I feel humbled.  I feel loved.  He knows me so well.  
     Yes, I bite that apple, over and over.  Even when I know the consequences.  And yes, He forgives me, over and over.  Even when He sees my weakness.  Because ultimately, His forgiveness is so much bigger than my sin.  And these days my gratefulness is so much bigger than my shame.  It grows every morning that I walk with Him. That’s my Father.  My Faithful Forgiver.  And He and I both know, my only hope.   

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