Broken Thoughts

I’ve been thinking about being broken these past few days—wanting to write about it but too busy living it to bend to the words.
And then this morning I read these words:  
If, however Adam and Eve had never been expelled from Eden, then the effort that is the basis for most human achievement, as well as both good and bad actions, would not exist. Without expulsion there would be no drive to restore the severed relationship with the Divine, no attempt to join ourselves once again with the God who created us…(Victor H. Matthews, Old Testament Turning Points: The Narratives that Shaped a Nation).
I felt a little twist inside my heart when I read these words, for isn’t the reverse just as true? There would be no need for this striving to restore relationship if it had not been severed in the first place.
But we have this thing called free will and Victor H. Matthews suggests that it is this very quality that prevents the Garden of Eden from being a habitable habitat for mankind.
If humanity is truly created in the image of God, then there is an inherent element of free thinking that is an integral part of our mental makeup. Adam and Eve could not have remained as they were forever. If they were truly human, then the curiosity that stirred the ancients to discover uses for fire, stone, and animals demanded that they be awakened to their destiny, which was not in Eden. (pp. 32)
This shook me.
Adam and Eve could not have remained as they were forever…
Is it possible that, without the first sin, we wouldn’t know the value of the relationship that was squandered? Is mankind capable of making good choices without the intimate understanding—without having knowledge of—the negative consequences of disobedience?
I want to believe that the story could have had a different ending—that it wasn’t just some kind of holy setup. But I don’t know. I’ve never lived in a world where bad things have never happened. Even now, in this fallen world, where the negative consequences of many choices are well documented all over the earth’s surface…where the bad is well-known, people make poor choices—I make bad choices—everyday.  
Nothing bad had ever happened in paradise. They had no frame of reference. And I am fooling myself if I think I would have chosen differently.
In the end, the question is this: Do I trust my Maker?
Do I trust what the Bible says–that He is good, that He has good plans for me, that His ways are higher than my ways, that I can never understand the mystery that is Him?
Because I don’t. I don’t understand why this roundabout way of watching us sin so He can send his Son to save us. Of sending God with Us in the form of a helpless babe. Of the suffering we must endure until He comes again.
I don’t understand.
It doesn’t make sense.
But what does make sense is the rush of joy that I feel at His presence…the way He can show me amazing beauty in pain and suffering…the way my heart burns within me when He speaks.
But still…
Sometimes I question His wisdom. He is the best thing I have but still, sometimes it is my first response to say, Are you sure, God?
Because I am broken, I ask this question. And because I am broken, I cannot trust my answer. And because He is God, He has made a way for me—even in my brokenness.
if…
the garden was just
a trophy case for
the exhibit of all Creation,
if we were never
able to live in utopia
from the beginning,
if free will keeps
us from belonging
to this paradise,
then, what is this
hole inside my heart?
isn’t it the longing
to return?
every day I am Eve. did
God really say…?
the serpent slithers in
to provide the catalyst for
change. And I—I
lay a place for him
at my table.
in a world where
evil is the belle of the
ball…where she dances
proud and brazen in the
dark of each day…a narrow
Light shines still.
and by grace this
cycle will be broken.
This was written for the one-word blog carnival over at Peter Pollock’s (though I’m late to the party) and for Marus’s Random Acts of Poetry challenge over at The High Calling.

Comments

  1. says

    Wow Laura, these are some really deep thoughts and reflections. I must admit, I struggle with some of this as well. I only know with certainty that God is good, not a trickster, not a game player, just a lover who does set us free. It is the ‘snake’ who wants us to think differently, always turning gift into burden. Wonderful thoughts.
    Andie

  2. says

    Interesting. This morning I just heard another twist to those scriptures. Basically He kicked them out so they would not continue to sin and eat over and over….hmmmmm. And He drew the line…there had to be consequences and YES in His perfect Love He provided a way to come back into a relationship with Him. Isn’t it interesting all that we hear and how we must take it all back to Him and ask for discernment??? I’m thankful I’m a woman with a simple faith….I ponder a lot but usually get to a certain point and KNOW it’s all way beyond me. Thanks for sharing…interesting how I’m hearing so much about the same scripture….hmmmmm.
    I just recently got “put back together” by that perfect LOVE. He cleaned me and I can now fully believe that Love….so cool. He allowed such anguish in my soul for a long time….it seems to have served at least one purpose I know of, in me. God alone knows the BIG picture. Now I have more to stir around in my head….for a bit.

  3. says

    There’s so much “there” there 😉 And it reduces to something so simple: do I trust Him? So often the answer is “No,” but then there are the other moments, the “Yes” ones, the beautiful ones.

  4. says

    And in the midst of these very real, very honest questions that we struggle to make sense of, we are given the gospel which also makes no sense. Sometimes I think artists and writers struggle more deeply with these questions because we are trying so hard to capture and explain and portray what should be, and there are so many missing pieces. I’m really looking forward to seeing the completed puzzle, reading the whole story.

  5. says

    We bought the Jesus Storybook Bible for Christmas, and as I read the Fall of Man story in it to the kids (ages 2, 4, 7, 9) my seven year old became very upset, as did I. Every time I read that story, it feels so devastating. All that was supposed to be, gone in an instant. Why, God, would you set it all up this way? Why would an angel turn so evil? Why did God let him? My son is very bright, and I think he understands the magnitude of the fall, more so than even my nine year old. This wasn’t the first time I’d seen him get so upset at this same story.

    I understand everything you’ve written. It is so difficult and the answer I keep coming back to is that God can do anything he wants. We, the created, are arrogant to even question our Creator (though it’s hard not to).

    Also, it helps me to remember that Heaven, which he prepared for us despite our sin, comes to us in an instant, really. Time is nothing to God. We suffer so much here, but it’s fleeting and God knows that.

    What a pleasure it is to dwell here at your website, Laura! Thank you!

  6. says

    Laura, I love how you are thinking and it is hard, but good to ‘go there’ and not a place many often contemplate…

    With your first quote I was already stirred as I have been listening and re-listening to Tim Keller’s series on ‘The Prodigal God’…The beginning of ‘We Had to Celebrate’ will touch you deeply if you have the time…I think you would love them all and the book too…

    Here’s the link to all of the sermons free on-line:

    http://sermons.redeemer.com/store/index.cfm?fuseaction=category.display&category_ID=32

    And I loved, loved the poem at the end…what a fitting way to end…

    Thank you for the deep:)

  7. says

    Reading your post brings to mind a section of poems by St. Thomas Aquinas in Love Poems From God, a number of which are full of riddles (such as our speaking of “returning” to God at death when “[i]inherent in that word is separation,/ and separation from God is never really possible” or the notion that “creation simultaneously exists and does not exist… God holds no one accountable – especially Himself – at all… whenever God wakes in us// His/our thinking becomes clear – nothing is missing”). The one I best like, though, assures that “No one can change the course of His arrows./ That does not mean that one should / not become adept at/ ducking.”

  8. says

    So many times I have ended up at this same place with the same questions: is He really good, can I really trust Him?

    Most of the time, I come back around with “yes”! But the pain in the questions is real.

    Beautiful post.

  9. says

    I don’t understand either Laura. I don’t want to believe it was a setup. I believe the Father knew what the outcome would be, but I cannot think He wanted Eve to make that choice. Perhaps He just wanted us to choose – to choose trust.
    In any case, this was just wonderful Laura – every bit of it.

  10. says

    This is the first time I have considered our expulsion from the garden as necessary to our free will. But surely within the bounds of free will we could have chosen to stay? It was the availability of choice, not the wrong decision that allowed us freedom.
    However, our fall was necessary if Jesus was to be our saviour, so we could have a deeper relationship with him than the angels who worship him, but do not share his image or the personal experience of salvation in him. Jesus as creator, but not saviour, would be a lesser glory and God’s plan was to exalt his son to the highest place!
    PS Your poem is brilliant!

  11. says

    In His omnipotence, He created us knowing what our choice would be. I don’t think we were set up. I think, in His Love, He created us anyway. He made us for Eden.

    The Tree of Life was there, too, and man was not forbidden to eat of it. Why did they not partake of Christ when He was available?

    Hard things to wrestle with . . .

  12. says

    “. . . evil is the belle of the ball” stanza such a strong image. You offer so much–in the quotes, your reaction, and then the poem. I feel literally full from all there is to think about here.
    I remember once saying to my husband, “It’s so hard sometimes to be a Believer.” He replied, “Yes, and so much harder not to be.” Your words brought this back to my mind.

  13. says

    These are interesting and great thoughts about the garden and free will. I have always been inquisitive, and yes, I would probably have found that tree without the help of the serpent. Then you could blame me for the mess this world is in. LOL
    Brokenness began in the Garden, and continues, however God had a remedy that was already planned prior to the foundation of the world. He knew mankind could be easily swayed, and he also knew that we must choose to worship him of our own free will. Jesus was provided to heal our brokenness and to restore us to favor with God.

  14. says

    I really enjoyed your reflections. Thanks. The poem is beautiful and true – we each invite him to the table and he is the popular one we are all drawn to. The belle of the ball image is so apt.
    Kath

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