Turning Back to God!

“Let us search out and examine our ways, And turn back to the LORD; Let us lift our hearts and hands To God in heaven.” (Lamentations 3:40,41 NKJV)

When are we going to see the error of our ways? Why must we have to be threatened by anyone regarding anything to own up to the things we do? Are we so blinded with our self-importance that we cannot see how what we say or do–creates chaos and confusion, sometimes leading to hatred and certainly makes our bigotry–crystal clear?

Before we do or say anything–we must examine our motives and seek His wisdom–and then we would have no need to “retract” what we’ve said or apologize for our inability to consider the consequences of our actions.

This nation–as a whole–including all the people in it–must reach a decision and examine themselves–dare to put themselves under a microscope to see who they really are. When a person dares to “see self” as they really are, then and only then will there be any lasting change in people that helps to move everyone forward, without attempting to crush them.

After we have examined ourselves, we need to “turn back to allowing God to influence” what we do, rather than allowing emotions and personal bigotry to guide us–especially when we know–the enemy is the influence–determining to kill, steal, and destroy others through vicious attacks–by whatever venue we use.

Lord Jesus, help us to see ourselves and then create in us a desire to please You and not be seduced by public opinion to berate others. We are mindful of the state of this nation and the world, and we submit to Your guidance in all things so we will not make a mockery of who You are by the things we do. Thank You for hearing and responding to this prayer, Amen!

Somewhere Out There!

Somewhere out there in the universe is the pathway to seeing all of God’s promises fulfilled in this lifetime.

“We must work, while it is day because when night comes–no one can see enough to get anything done.” (Paraphrased)

If we do not do everything while we have an opportunity to do it–while we yet have breathe in our bodies and the use of our limbs, when we are dead–our darkness has come–it will be too late.

Since death does not discriminate on the basis of age, gender, or ethnicity, none of us are exempt from leaving here–the planet earth–at any time. Even though I plan to live until I’m ninety-five; I have no idea what God’s plans for me are–as to when He’ll call me home. So, I’ve made up my mind, that no matter what happens, there is an avenue by which I can reach all of my goals and fulfill God’s plans (with ministry) before it’s time for me to go. Somewhere out there-on planet earth, there are people who are in position to do what must be done–God is speaking to hearts and I pray that those He is speaking to are listening.

None of us were intended to live a life in isolation and we are all supposed to help one another (“Be helpers of one another”); especially those in the body of Christ. So, I’ll wait to hear from those He has spoken to on my behalf.  I know you’re out there–somewhere. But don’t wait too long to respond to His voice. Tomorrow is not promised to anyone and if I’m sure you don’t want to miss being a blessing to others.

God bless you richly for being obedient and doing all He puts upon your heart to do–for whoever He says to do it for or with. He is also speaking to someone on your behalf and I pray all are listening and willing to do–because somewhere out there–there are those who hold the keys to blessings meant to overflow and overtake all who are in need.

In the Garden (segment three)

“Look.  I’ve known the big guy for a long time.  He was just trying to make sure that you don’t become as wise as He is.  He knows that the minute you taste of that tree, you’ll be like a god, smart as He is and just as clever. Come on, taste it.  You’ll see,” said the serpent as he circled the tree enticingly.

“Adam, what do you think?” asked the woman.

“Huh, what are you talking about?” asked her husband, dazed, as if coming out a trance.

“Never mind,” said the woman archly.

She stared at the tree for some time noting the luscious color of the fruit, its firm roundness and stood closer to get a better whiff of its fragrance.  It did indeed look good and it had a wonderfully intoxicating aroma.  She decided that maybe she had misunderstood God.  So she picked some of the fruit from the lower branches and groaned aloud in delight.

“Adam, you must taste this.  This is the most heavenly fruit, I’ve ever tasted.”

So Adam took the fruit from her and he too ate of it and groaned in delight.  By the time they had finished their first mouthful, they knew something had changed.  They looked at each other and suddenly knew that their nakedness, a condition to which they were so accustomed, was no longer appropriate.  They dropped the fruit in an attempt to hide themselves and shamefacedly backed into the deeper foliage near fig trees and took leaves from the fig tree to fashion coverings for themselves.  When they finished sewing their leaves, they came back into the open and stared at each other as if seeing one another for the very first time.

“What happened?” asked the woman shakily.

“I don’t know,” said the man nervously, but I don’t think it was a good idea to eat from that tree.”

“We’ve done it now,” said the woman beginning to weep.  “What are we going to tell Him?”

“I don’t know, but we’ll have to think of something.  Let’s go get the children and tell them what happened and warn them to stay away from that tree,” said the man looking around him.

Suddenly some of their children came running into the clearing screaming their heads off.  Adam and the woman jumped at this unfamiliar sound and wondered what had happened.

“Mommy, daddy, the animals are going crazy.  They won’t play right and one of them tried to bite us,” cried the children.

“What!” said both of them in unison.  “The animals wouldn’t bite you.  They know we have dominion over them.”

“Something happened a little while ago,” they explained.  We were playing like we usually do, riding around on their backs, telling them where to take us, when suddenly, they stopped in their tracks and shook us off.  They nearly trampled over us as we were trying to run away. Why didn’t they listen to us?”

Adam and his wife stared at each other in horror.  They realized that the animals had reacted at about the same time they had eaten the forbidden fruit from the tree.  They quickly explained things to the children and admonished them to be extra careful until they could round up the others.  After they gathered all the children together, they sent them with the eldest to go live with their other brothers and sisters.  Adam and the woman knew they were in trouble, but they didn’t want their children to suffer for their mistakes.

Just about dusk, when God usually took a walk around the garden and chatted with His creations, Adam and the woman heard the voice of God and hid themselves in the thickets.

“Adam, where are you and the woman, I want to talk to you,” said God.

“We heard your voice and hid ourselves because we are not presentable,” said Adam.

“What do you mean, you’re not presentable?” asked God.

“We are naked,” said Adam.

“And who told you that you were naked?” God thundered.  “Did you eat the fruit of the tree that I had forbidden you to touch?”

Adam cringed and said, “The woman that you gave me, gave me some of the fruit and I did eat it.”

“Woman, do you know what you have done?” asked God furiously.  “Everything is in chaos, the animals are fighting each other and dark clouds have caused the sky to darken early.”

“The serpent tricked me into believing that it would be okay,” said the woman, crying and hiding behind her husband.

“Because you have caused chaos in my paradise,” said God to the serpent, “no longer shall you walk upright, but shall slither along the ground like the snake that you are and every beast of the field shall trample you in their passing.  I will cause such hatred between you, your descendants, and the woman’s that their only thought of you will be to kill you upon sight.”

Turning to the woman He continued His pronouncements.  “Until now, you have had an easy life.  You brought children into the world without pain or worry.  Now, I will greatly multiply your sorrows in conception and you shall have unbearable pain when you deliver them into the world.  You shall also no longer be equal to your husband, but your desire will be to please him and honor him as your head.”

Looking disgustedly at Adam, He continued.   “I had such great hopes for you, but you have disappointed me.   You have given your wife’s desire priority over me; therefore, no longer shall you eat from the abundance of what I have provided. You have caused the very ground from which I made provision for you to be cursed.   Thorns and briers shall be put in your way, and you shall have to uproot them in order to plant anything else to grow.”

“You will have to till the land yourself, working from sun-up to sun-down, providing your own bread with sweat pouring from your brows until you are returned to the ground.  For from the dust of the earth I created you and to the dust you shall return.  Now, it’s time you gave the woman a name.”

So Adam called his wife Eve, since she was the mother of all that was living.  After awhile when His fury was spent, God took the skins from some of the less fortunate animals and made clothes for them.  Knowing now, that their curiosity would always overrule their better judgment, and that they might try to taste the fruit from the tree of life and live forever, he banished them from the garden and placed a sentry of eternally flaming swords around the entrances to inhibit their return to taste even more of the forbidden fruit.

First Sibling Rivalry

After being forced to leave the garden, Adam and Eve had to find a place to begin, anew. They knew that life was not going to be as easy as it had been because they had been disobedient, but they had no idea what was really in store for them. Everything they had taken for granted—the beauty of the trees, the coolness of the water, the abundance of herbs and fruits and vegetables—was now understood to be a necessity and they had to learn to use what they had proficiently.

They scouted out the land and chose a spot near a well of water.  They claimed it for themselves before anyone else could come along and use it, exclusively.  Adam and his other children managed to hew trees and find huge stones they could use to build houses to protect them from others who now, appeared to be a bit suspicious.  It didn’t matter that they were all related.  That change in the atmosphere (penalties for disobedience) was now leading every man down a different path and it was not always a path of cooperation.

Adam discovered that tilling the earth was not easy; especially since he had to create some tools to use to make it easier.  He shaped pieces of rock by rubbing them together until he had a sharper edge on one side and then he tied that piece of rock to a piece of sturdy broken branch.  He had to bend over and push the tool along the earth to turn the soil in order to get the soil ready for the seeds he had ready to plant.  This was hard work and he really didn’t get very far each day.  But every day, he rose with the sun and when the sun went down, he went to sleep, tired and his eyes burned from the sweat that poured down his face.

Eve’s life was not any easier.  They still enjoyed following the mandate to be fruitful, but now, having a baby was miserable work.  Just as God had promised, she brought forth her children in the midst of agonizing pain and there was nothing anyone could do.  They had a number of children after being evicted from the garden and most of them learned to help her and Adam; the girls in the house and the boys in the field either tending the animals that had been domesticated or in planting the fields. When Cain was born, there was an air of expectancy—something about him was different and his parents knew—they would never forget about him. Cain was competitive and had an angry, dominating spirit that often got him into trouble with his parents. A hot-head who didn’t want to listen to anyone because he always thought he was right. Then, Abel was born and once again, there was air of expectancy about this birth as well. Abel was compliant and totally obedient.  He listened wisely to everything his parents said and learned that pleasing them always brought with it a reward.  He loved getting rewarded for doing the right thing. The children grew and were trained to help sustain the family.  Cain was trained to be a tiller of the soil, while Abel was trained to keep the sheep.  For a long time, they were satisfied with their roles in life and with their family, until they decided to bring offerings unto the Lord.

During those years, Adam and Eve had taught their children to respect and worship God, the Creator of all Things and without Whom, nothing would have ever been created.  They had also taught them to bring an offering unto God.  Apparently, their parents had established a scheduled time for which these offerings should be made and when it was time to make that offering, Cain brought unto God an offering from the ground he tilled and Abel brought unto God an offering of the sheep he tended. He remembered the story his parents had told them and the sacrifice that God had made of the animals to clothe his parents.

God was pleased with Abel’s offering and not so pleased with Cain’s.  He took Cain aside and tried to explain a few facts to Cain, but Cain was angry and would not hear what God said.  The only thing he cared about was Abel winning God’s favor.  He had totally forgotten about the story about how his parents had been kicked out of the Garden of Eden and didn’t seem to appreciate the fact that God was not happy with his offering—an offering from the land He had cursed. He found an opportunity to confront Abel and that’s when things went awry.

When Cain got to the field where he knew he would find Abel, resting against a tree.

“Abel,” Cain asked, “You got a minute?”

“Sure, Cain. Anything for you brother,” Abel responded lazily, twisting a piece of straw in his hand.

“Why is it that God always likes your offerings and never cares about mine?”

“I don’t know.  Did you ask Him?”

“He tried telling me something that didn’t make any sense so I stopped listening.”

Abel looked at Cain, wondering why they were having this conversation.  “Cain, if you didn’t want to hear what God had to say, what makes you think I can explain things any differently?  Why would you listen to me?”

“I thought you might know something other than sitting around on your butt all day being a smart…!”

“Whoa!  There’s no need for that kind of language.  I only do what Mom and Dad said we should do.  I actually listen to them.”

“So, what are you trying to say, I don’t?  Cain was heated by now and not by the sun.

“What I’m saying is that we both heard the story about how they got kicked out of the garden and how God cursed the ground as a punishment for Dad.  The way I see it is, if God cursed the ground, why would He want anything from it?

“So, now you’re saying I’m stupid?  Cain had moved closer to Abel by now and Abel had to stand up to try to get out of the way.

“I didn’t say you were stupid.  I said that I listened.  Now, if you get my calling you stupid from that, that’s on you,” Abel smiled teasingly.

In the Garden (segment two)

As men and women grew up, they married each other in order to fulfill God’s command to multiply and moved into other areas near the garden, creating new towns.  The newly married taught their children to play with the utmost courtesy and respect since they were always mindful of the needs of others.  For the longest time, they did not know what an argument or serious disagreement was. Living in such idyllic conditions caused them to be just a little lax about certain conditions that God had laid down.  They began to take life for granted.

After all, it’s not everyone who can live in paradise, have no need for clothes or to cook food or worry about anything at all.  Everything had been provided for them because God loved them so much and not once did the man and woman ever imagine a life outside the garden.

Until one day, a serpent sidled up to the woman.

“Hey, woman,” said the serpent coyly.  “How are things going today?”

“Hello, serpent.  Things are going just fine,” said the woman, slightly annoyed.

“You don’t sound like they’re just fine.  Want to talk about it?” asked the serpent.

“Well, I’ve run out of ideas for dinner.  We seem to keep eating the same things over and over again.  Adam doesn’t complain, but I’d really like to serve him something different for a change.”

“Oh,” said the serpent smiling.  “I thought you had a real problem.”

“This is a real problem,” said the woman.  She had her hands on her hips and was about to walk away.

“Don’t leave.  I was just teasing,” said the serpent with a twinkle in his eye.

“And just why should I stay here talking to you when you don’t understand my dilemma? It’s easy enough for you to find a variety of food; you can travel all over the place at ease.  Besides that, you probably don’t have any taste any way,” said the woman carefully scrutinizing the serpent.

“I meant no harm and besides, I know what you can do for a change for dinner.  You know that tree over by the other side of the garden, have you tried that fruit yet?” he sidled up a little closer.  I had some the other day and man was it ever delicious.  You really ought to try it.  I’m sure your family would love it.”

“Are you referring to the tree in the middle of the garden?” she asked skeptically.  “The one we were told not to eat from?”

“Well, surely the big guy didn’t mean you could never eat from it.  Perhaps He was just saving the best for last.”

“Oh, no!  He specifically said that we were neither to eat from it nor touch it or we would surely die,” she responded hastily.

In The Garden

As God stood back and appraised His work, He noticed that the man appeared to be a little subdued.  The man had just finished naming all of the animals, and then he just sat around sighing and yawning.  Realizing that all of the animals had mates for companionship and the man had none, God decided that this was the reason for his apparent depression.   So, He gave him a sleeping potion and in a few minutes the man was deep in slumber-land.  God made an incision down the side of his chest, opened it, and extracted a rib.  He then laid aside the rib for a moment so He could stitch the opening close.    After giving the rib considerable thought, He then, from the dust of the earth, formed a new being around this rib, causing it to look noticeably different from the man, but with the intent of the parts being able to jointly fit together.  He waited for the man to wake up before He breathed life into the new being and presented the man with it.  The man, seeing stitches in his once flawlessly smooth chest, understood immediately what had happened and he named the new being—woman, because she had come from him.

Now, when the man first looked upon woman, a gorgeous creation with long, flowing hair, statuesque figure, flawless skin, big brown eyes, and a luscious mouth, he started having feelings that he had never experienced before now.  His heart pounded furiously, his mouth went dry and he couldn’t take his eyes off her.  After seeing his reaction to the woman, God immediately performed a wedding, blessed them, and told them to be fruitful and multiply.

For many years in the garden, the man and woman lived in blissful peace.  They didn’t waste any time multiplying and actually discovered that it was a past-time they both enjoyed immensely.  Their children loved playing in the garden with all of the animals, swimming in the ponds with the fish, climbing the trees, and pulling up the flowers as gifts for their parents.  The man was the undisputed leader of the tribe.  He set the rules and his wife helped to keep them enforced.  He was the priest and king of his family.

The woman, who was later named Eve, enjoyed her life as mother and wife.  Unlike modern housewives, she had no real complaints. Whenever the women forgot to pick enough fruit for all to eat, the males still living in the garden, excused themselves and foraged through the abundance of the garden to gather more.  The females of the group tended the younger children in the family and taught them how to swim and to frolic with the near-by animals. The weather was always picture perfect.  The magnificence of the brilliant blue sky was piercing, as was the ever-present warming sun.  Once in a great while they would witness a billowy white blanket moving across the sky and they would wonder what it should be called.  Since God had not informed Adam of this particular element, he had no reason to think of a name for it, as yet.  So whenever they saw the blankets of whiteness moving across the sky, they would pretend that they were on them, travelling far and wide.

This is the first segment of a contemporized short story based on events in the Garden of Eden from Genesis 3.