Eden, Paradise Lost
by Kathy Barnes
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Eden, Paradise Lost
God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being. And the Lord God planted a garden toward the east in Eden, and there He place the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 2:7-9
Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.” then the Lord god said, “It is not good for the man to be alone, I will make him a helper suitable for him.” Genesis 2:15-18
The Lord God took from him a rib. With that rib, He formed me, and I awoke into the wonderful presence of my creator. Both God and the man looked at me, and said, “I was good, and they were well pleased with me.” The man called himself Adam and named me, Eve. God said I was to be his helpmate. Together we were to rule this paradise as one.
I walked in a beautiful garden full of plants and animals. Adam told me the names of everything. There were so many names to learn for there was every type of plant and animal one could image. There was a creature; he called bird, flying overhead and singing beautiful songs. A small winged creature he called a bee, buzzed as it went from one brightly colored flower to another. A green skinned long legged creature, he called a frog, stuck out a long red tongue and gapped a fly and then hopped off a water lily. In the distance, eating leave from a tall tree stood a funny looking yellow and brown spotted creature, called a giraffe, with a neck as long as I am tall. Then there was a giant gray creature, he calls an elephant. It had big ears, a long nose as long as my arm, legs as big a as a tree, and a little tail. Everywhere I looked was something new to see and learn.
Everything was so beautiful, and peaceful. The ground was plastered with gorgeous stones of gold, onyx, and gems pleasing to the eye. All the plants supplied us with plenty of food to eat. Adam and I went from one tree to the next picking fruit and tasting it to see if it was sweet, tart, bitter, firm, or juicy. Each time one of us found a new taste we would bring it to the other to share, and so that they also might taste. I loved to spend time with Adam and go on long walks. It was easy to take care of everything. We had only to speak, and it would grow at our command.
In the cool of the evening God would walk with us and talk with us about our day. We talked about how lovely the butterflies’ dance was, how silly and happy the lion’s and the lamb’s game of tag had been. We shared what the otter told us about her day of swimming and splashing around in the stream had been like. He would tell us about the stars above, what the angels were doing, and how much He loved us. We would tell him, how much we loved Him, thanked him for all that, He had given us. We could not wait to see each other and look forward to the next time that He would come to walk among us. It was the perfect place to raise a family, a true paradise. I did not yet realize just how happy and blessed we were to live this way.
The day the forever changed my life started like so many other days had started before. Adam and I awoke, and ate breakfast together. We went walking hand in hand along the path looking yellow and red tulips, picking blackberries, watching the squirrels run up and down the tree gathering nuts. We had stopped in a meadow, and I was listening to the song of praise the birds were singing. The lion roared calling for us to come and see her newborn cubs. Adam went to see the cubs, but I was caught up in the music, and I followed the chickadee until her song finial stopped. I sat down under the shade of a tree to rest until Adam returned and hoped to catch another song.
I looked up and realized I was sitting under the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. It was a beautiful tree. It was full of fruit that looked delicious and pleasing. I was wondering, “What would it taste like?” The thought of it made my mouth water, and I desired to take just one bite and see. I know that God had told Adam, “That we must not eat from it, for in that day we would surely die.” Adam had warned me, and I knew better than to eat. I was not really even hungry, and there were plenty of things to eat along the path if I had been. Why did it fascinate me so much? I laid there for a long time, looking up at that tree and wondering. What was so special about it? It was the only thing God had forbidden us to eat.” Adam had said, “It was to show God that we loved Him enough, to trust Him and obey Him.
A serpent came by and coiled up on a limb just above my head. He was a beautiful creature. The other animals said, “He was to be one of the wisest animals in the garden.” The serpent took a bite and told me to do the same that it was delightful. I told him that I could not. He asked, “If God had really said, “You may not eat from any tree in the garden.” as if God did not have the right to say, “This is mine alone.” I thought for a minute that he was right, “I should be able to eat this, if I wanted.” I dismissed the thought. God made it. It was His to do with as He pleased. I wondered, “Did God have a good reason for doing so?”
I told the serpent, “We may eat of all the trees of the garden, but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden from it, we may not eat; not touch it for if we do, we will die.” I placed more restrictions on me that God had, wanting to sound like I knew something more than the serpent. I wondered: “What it meant to die? Was it like the daylilies, where their blooms die at the end of the day, only to open anew the next? Did it hurt? Did it last long?”
The serpent then said, “You surely shall not die! God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God- knowing Good and Evil.” I had never thought about being like God. He can do everything. I would like that kind of power. Maybe if I ate the fruit, then I would truly be like Him- knowing everything, seeing everything, being everywhere at once. Was that why the serpent was so wise? If I knew good and evil, maybe then I would know better how to please God and Adam. This would be a good thing, would it not? How could knowing something cause me harm? Why did I not have the right to make up my own mind?”
The serpent rapped his tail around a piece of fruit hanging just above my head and offered it to me. He said, “See. Touch it. It will not hurt you any more than it will me.” Seeing that it did not harm him, I reached out and took it in my hand. Turning it over and over, in my hand I studied it. Again, the serpent spoke, “Just as I said, no harm has come to you. God just does not want to share His power with you, that is why He told you not to taste.” Take just one small bite. One bite could not hurt, and you will see. Do this if not for you, to please me that I might know that you are my friend.” Therefore, I took a bite. He said, “See I told you. You are as wise as God or me. We are equals.” I could not feel any change, so I thought it was all right. I was not any wiser, but I did not want him to know. The fruit was good to my taste and pleasing for a while, so I took and gave my husband. I wanted him to be as please with me as the serpent. He resisted at first, but I pleaded with him to join me. Wanting to please me, and wanting to be like God, he also took a bite.
When Adam took that bite, everything changed, and we saw ourselves as we truly were. We knew Good and Evil. Before we had known only Good. Now we knew pain, heartache, emptiness, and fear. The serpent had lied. This did hurt. Maybe not at first but now I was aware of what sin felt like. It was a black hole, sucking life from my body leaving me broken, hopeless in a deep lightless pit. No matter how I tried, I could not wash this film of evil from my skin or my mind. I could not free myself for it hold on my life. I was aware, how much damage I had done, but it was too late to take it back.
Before when Adam and I looked at each other, it was in love and beautiful. Now, I felt dirty, and venerable. We tried to cover our bodies with fig leaves. We did not want the other to behold our shame. Would Adam every trust me again? I had betrayed him and nagged him into betraying God too.
We felt the breeze blowing across the garden, and we knew- that God was coming. For the first time, we felt apart from the Lord God. I was afraid of what He would think and do. Why did I listen to the serpent? God had never done anything that had hurt me, or caused me pain. I had known only joy, and pleasure in His presences. I had failed, disappoint , and disobey Him. How could He ever forgive me? I feared that He would no longer love me. Adam and I hid as best we could, but how do you hide from God?
God called to us, and asked, “Where are You.” Already knowing where we were and what we had done. He still wanted to spend time with his creation. Why else would He have come looking for us? He asked. “What we had done?” Adam pointed at me, and said, “She made me do it.” Then he blamed God for his sin, for God had given me to him. I blamed the serpent for he had tricked me. The truth was we were both at fault, and we both knew it. We could not fix the problem, so we did not own the sin as our own but tried to pass the blame.
God cursed first the serpent, causing him to crawl on his belly, and eat the dust of the earth continually, for his part in the sin. He cursed me so that now, when I give birth, I must endure pain. He cursed the earth, that it would not be bountiful with food and life, but would instead, be full of thorns and thistles. Adam was cursed so that only with hard labor and sweat could he provide for us. He kept His promise that we would die. We could already feel our bodies growing old and tired. Disease, sickness, and injury entered the world. God cursed the animals, and for the first time they knew death, because of man. No longer would they speak with us, but ran in fear from us instead. He shed their blood to make a covering for Adam and me, before sending an angel to drive us out of paradise. He placed another to guard the tree of life; in order that we might not eat of it for if we did there would have been no way back for us.
We lost everything that day, gaining nothing, which we thought we would. Adam and I fought that day for the first time. Adam did not trust me as he had before, because I had not listened to him. I had not honored his authority or God’s. I am not sure he will ever fully listen to me again. Adam often shakes his head, but does not hear what I say. I had blamed him for not keeping the serpent away, and not being a better teacher. We were both bitter with each other, and we were never quite the same again. I think the only reason that we slept together that night was from fear. We could not understand the animal’s voices, and they seemed mad at us.
We woke the next day, and I had to hunt long and hard for food. We found enough to make our stomach stop growling, but now knew what it meant to be hungry. Evening finally came, and the blazing sun started down. We were so very lonely. A part of us was missing, because God no longer walked among us. We did not know the peace and rest; we had when He was there. We understood now what worry and trouble were. We cried ourselves to sleep, sorry for all, which we had done, for our eyes were truly open as we could see things as God had. We had failed to worship Him, as the true and only God. God is such a loving God, looking back, I wonder, what He would have done if we had admitted our sin, and simply fallen at His knees and begged forgiveness.
Still He did not leave us in our helpless state but gave us the promise of a Savior, His son, who would redeem us and restore our right standing with God.
A few thousand years have passed, but not too much has changed. Just as Solomon said, “There is nothing new under the sun.” We all have a choice to sin or not. We all fail. It still has a price of death. It all starts with the same problems, the eyes and I. We look at something until we say it is good, and we have to have it. It may be the second piece of cake, the neighbor house, sex outside of marriage, pictures of abused kids, or the almighty dollar. Next comes, I deserve and I have a right to it. If it feels good, then I should be able to do it. Pride, Greed, and Selfishness still ruin lives.
We listen to the serpent lie, that we can be God. We believed, because we want to do so. Satan never speaks the whole truth. We still choose to worship other gods. No, the first drink will most likely not kill you, but the hundredth may find you in jail for DWI, or dying of liver failure. Your first snort of cocaine could easily lead to your last. Love outside marriage may seem like it hurts no one, until you look at divorce rate, kids without fathers, and AIDS’ victims. Keeping up with the Joneses may give you ulcers, or heart attacks. Fitting into that size zero dress may kill you. Bitterness and unforgiveness leads to cancer or depression. The jails are full, and most knew what they were doing was wrong. They chose to do it anyway.
We still like the blame game. “If I had had better parents,” “if he had not hurt me,” “if I had known the outcome.” then I would have not done it. We are not responsible for what was done to us, but how we reacted to it. We are responsible for our actions. We want to say, ‘ “if we say I am sorry,’ then somehow all punishment and consequence should go away.” They don’t. If I run up the credit cards, the bills still follow me. If I abuse my child, she may not want to take care of me when I am old. The courts may find me guilty and sentence me to jail. If I fail to read, to study, to listen to God’s plan and obey it; I may find myself kicked out of heaven and into a hell of my own choosing. Like Adam and Eve, life eventually forces us to admit, that we are not God. We are not all knowing. We are not all powerful, and we are not able to wash off the stench of sin.
We still try to add to His word and worship with our many rules and regulations that he did not bind to us. You can’t wear cowboy boots in church or say amen without two committee hearing and a church wide vote.
Just like with Adam and Eve, God still comes looking for us, knowing all that we have done. He still forgives, and gives us life again. However, it comes at the price, the blood of His only Son. It is only given to who accept salvation’s plan, which earnestly acknowledge, and turn away their sin. He still offers a precious gift of fellowship to any that seek, Him. He still longs to walk through the garden together.
Kathy Barnes 6-25-10
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