Monday, March 28, 2016

Paradise Lost . . . Eternity Gained!

It was a beautiful day in paradise, the sun was shining, the birds were singing and all was right in the world.  The man and woman had no imperfections, no regrets, nothing to feel ashamed of, and nothing to be afraid of.  They were perfect.  Their world was perfect. 
They knew nothing of fear, self-protection or insecurity.  Nothing of brokenness, sorrow, or disappointment.  What must it have been like, this fairy-tale existence?  Knowing complete joy, peace, security and companionship with the One who had created them.

But very soon it would all change.  Their fairy-tale world would turn into a nightmare and the garden they were placed in to enjoy and cherish would vanish like a vapor in the wind.
While they were walking in this paradise land, gazing at the intricate design of the leaves on the trees, watching the animals frolicking in the meadow, listening to the birds chatter back and forth, a serpent spoke to the woman.  
He sensed her vulnerability, so it was no accident that he directed his question to her.  You see, he had been watching.   Waiting for the perfect time to begin the plan, he had so carefully been constructing, to defeat his Maker.  What better way was there than to attack His children?  He had thought through every detail, every word said, every possible response.  Now was the time to drive a stake through the very heart of God.
With one question, he placed a seed of doubt in the heart of the woman, called Eve, regarding her Creator.
“Did God really tell you, you couldn’t eat from any of the trees in this beautiful garden?”  The question drips with sarcasm and shame.  Questions left unsaid, march unbidden through her mind. Aren’t you better than this?  Don’t you deserve more? Is your Creator really holding out on you?
She quickly clears up the serpent’s mistake but the seed of doubt has been planted and it is in fertile soil.  The missile has hit its mark.
“Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied.  “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat.  God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”  (Genesis 3.2-3 NLT)
Then Satan begins his full on assault . . . while the man listens but never speaks.
“You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman.  “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”  (Genesis 3.5-6 NLT)

It doesn’t take but a little watering for this seed of doubt to grow and flourish.  She is easily convinced her Maker is holding out on her. 
She walks with the serpent and her man to the forbidden tree.  The fruit glistens in the morning sun, her mouth begins to water as she contemplates what a bite into this fruit will be like. The juice runs down her chin and she quickly offers one to her husband.  
He once again says nothing, and takes a bite of his own fruit.
In that moment fear and shame are born.
The woman was convinced.  She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her.  So she took some of the fruit and ate it.  Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and het ate it too.  At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness.  So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.  (Genesis 3.6-7 NLT)
The whole human race would pay the price for their rash decision. From then on sin would be passed down from one generation to another.  Satan was the victor, or so he thought.
But God . . would have the last word.  He would be the final victor.  But it would cost Him dearly.  This one act set in motion God's beautiful redemption plan.  This impulsive decision did not catch God by surprise.  It was not unforeseen.  Satan's "grand plan" was only a little cog in the wheel of God's great rescue mission and at the heart of this beautiful restoration plan was love. 

Selfless. Unconditional.  Sacrificial.  LOVE.

But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.  (Romans 5.8 NLT)