TITLE: Eden, Paradise Lost
By Kathy Barnes
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God caused the man to fall asleep and while asleep, he 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, said I was good, and they were well pleased with me. The man called himself Adam and named me, Eve. I was to be his helpmate and him my protection. Together we were to rule this paradise as one.
We lived in a beautiful garden full of plants and animals. Adam told me the names of everything. I loved spending time with him. Everything was so beautiful, and peaceful. The ground was plastered with gorgeous stones of gold, onyx, and gems pleasing to the eye. All the plant supplied us with plenty of food to eat. We would often go from one tree to the next picking fruit and tasting it to see if it was sweet, tart, bitter, firm or juicy. Every time one of us found a new taste, we would share that fruit with the other. 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 would talk about how lovely the butterflies’ dance was, how silly and happy the lion and the lamb game of tag had been, and what the frog had told us about her day of jumping around in the stream. We would tell him, how much we loved Him, and thanked Him for all which He had given us. He would tell us about the stars above, what the angels were doing, and how much he loved us. We could not wait to see each other. It was the perfect place to raise a family, a true paradise. Adam and I were so happy there. I did not know how much until we lost it.
The day started like so many other days had before. Adam and I had awoke, eaten breakfast together, and then gone for a long walk. He had gone off to see the newborn loin clubs, and I had gone into a meadow to listening to the songs of praise the birds were singing. I ended up under the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, resting in it shade. This was a beautiful tree; it was full of fruit that looked delicious, and pleasing to me. I started to wonder, “What it would taste like.” I know that God had told Adam, “That we should not eat from it, for in that day we would surely die.” He had told me, and I knew better that to eat. I was not hungry, and there were plenty of other things to eat. Why did it fascinate me so much? I laid there for a long time, looking up at that tree. I was wondering, “What was so special about it, for you see it was the only thing God had forbidden us.” Adam had said, “It was to show God that we loved Him enough, to do what He asks.”
While I was resting there, a serpent came by and reclined against the tree next to me. He was a beautiful and wise creature. 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,” then dismissed the thought. God made it. It was His to do with as He pleased. I wondered, “Did He have a reason for doing so?”
God had not told not me, but Adam that we could not eat this; but I did not want the serpent to know this. He might have thought me as an afterthought, and not as knowledgeable as he. So, I said, “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 or touch it, or we will die.” I placed more restrictions on me than God had, wanting to sound like I knew more than he did. 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! For 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 could do everything. I would like that kind of power. I wonder if I ate the fruit if I would truly be like Him knowing everything, seeing everything, being everywhere at once. Was that how the serpent was so wise? If I knew good and evil, then I know better how to please God and Adam. This would be a good thing, would it not?
The serpent point to a fruit hanging just above my head, that looked like it was about to fall. “Touch it, see it will not hurt you,” He said. I reached up and took it in my hand. Turning it over and over, in my hand I studied it. He said, “See I told you, it would not hurt 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. You will see that I am right. Do this one small thing in order to please me.” Therefore, I took a bite. He said, “See I told you. You are as wise as God or me.” Therefore, I took and gave it to my husband. I wanted him to be as pleased with me as the serpent. At first, he resisted, but I plead with him to join me after all we were intended to be equals. Finally he got tired of my asking, and took a bite to please me.
When he took that bite, everything changed, and we saw ourselves as we were. We knew good and evil. Before we know only good, but now we knew pain, heartache, emptiness and fear. The serpent did not tell us, that this would hurt. He lied to us. I knew now what sin felt like. It was a black hole, which sucked the life out of your body leaving you broken and sick without hope at the bottom of deep pit, without light. No matter how I tried, I could not wash this film of evil from my skin or my mind. I could not get it off me. I was aware, now how much damage I had done. Before when we had looked at each other, it was in love and beautiful, now we were venerable to the other. I could see my sin and his. We hide our eyes from each other. We tried to cover our bodies with fig leaves. We did not want the other, to behold our shame. 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.
We felt the breeze blowing across the garden, and we knew, that God was coming. For the first time, we felt apart from him; we did not wish to be in His presence. We had failed Him, disappoint Him, and disobey Him. We feared that He would no longer love us. We hid ourselves, as best we could, but how do you hide from God? He 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 knew it. We could not fix it. so we did not want to admit it. How could we undo it? How could we make it right again?
God cursed first the serpent, causing him to crawl on his belly, and eat the dust of the earth continually, for his part in sin. He cursed me in 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. He cursed Adam, so that only with hard labor and sweat could he provide for his family. He kept his promise that we would die. We could already feel our bodies growing old and tired. He ordered an angel 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. He 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.
We lost everything that day, and gain 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 am not sure he ever fully listened to me again. He 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 seem mad at us. We woke the next day, and 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 with 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.
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 0 dress may kill you. Bitterness and unforgiveness lead 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 hand in hand.
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