In the beginning things were different. God, the One Who Is, The Eternal Relationship of Love decided to create something good and true and beautiful - because that’s what happens when love is experienced in community, good and beautiful things are created.
And so this God brushed away the darkness, stepped into the midst of chaos and brought forth solid foundations. God molded and formed an unbelievably expansive and expanding universe and in the midst of that, in an inconspicuous section of all that he began to paint with beautiful strokes a landscape that was begging to be enjoyed. This God showed an incredible ability to combine indescribable power with gentle beauty - from the crashing of tectonic plates, the trickle of a mountain stream became possible; a giant ball of super-heated gas, capable of destroying life lends its power to paint the sky at sunrise; immense trees, enormous grasslands, bluebonnets mixed with indian paintbrushes and buttercups; the sound of waves crashing against the rocks that you not only hear, but feel...God could not stand the thought of all this beauty going unnoticed and unexperienced.
And so the God Who Is walked in the garden he had created. He knelt down and from the same material that formed mountains, deserts and jungles; the same material that made up the fish and birds and lions and bugs he began to mold something new; something that would see and know and laugh and love. He began to form something that would walk with him, that he could teach and love. He formed out of himself - using his own image as a mold and model. This new thing he was making would be the pinnacle of everything he’d created. He would be able to point out the sunrise and this new thing's breath would catch; when a thunderstorm would pass through this new thing would come running to God for protection and God would hold this small creature and explain that everything would be okay.
And so he formed this living being. He breathed his own life into this thing. And the community of Father, Son and Holy Spirit - the relationship that was full, complete and needed nothing - invited these new small frail children to share this powerful community. And it was so very good.
I wonder if it was cloudy when it happened? I wonder if the sun refused to shine and birds found themselves unable to sing as they waited for the children's decision.
You see, doubt was introduced. The little children were told that God was holding out on them. There was something more they could attain if they would just apply themselves. The children were told that God was trying to keep them from becoming what they had a right to be - what they deserved! You have to look out for number 1, you have to do what it takes to get ahead. It isn’t personal its just business, its the way the world works baby.
But it wasn’t just business, it was much more than that. It was personal. It was communal. It was foundational.
All creation holds its breath as the children are faced with the choice - will they walk away from the warmth of the fire into the cold and crushing darkness in search of a better fire? Would they leave the security and peace and order and jump into the chaos? There was so much more at stake here than merely a righteous God requiring complete obedience. This was the moment of choice.
True, God could have formed these creatures without the ability to choose their course. That was a decision that God had to make with the stars and planets and mountains and streams. None of these had been given the freedom to choose - planets and moons were in their orbit and they had no ability to choose to do otherwise. Mountains are tall and strong and they will never think, "I want to be a valley now." Gravity does not choose whether it will influence objects or not.
This decision allowed the universe to be orderly. But it also ensured that no planet would ever decide to write a song about this God. Sure God created great beauty in the planet; a beauty which is itself a kind of song, but it isn’t a song that the planet created. God wanted something that could create as he creates - not on the same level, but something that understood, as he does, that when love is present beautiful things result.
So the children could not be like the stars or the trees.
The children had to be able to choose. And now it was time for them to begin making their choices...
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
Was the cry that spread across the universe something that could be heard by the ears or was it simply felt in the deepest part of the heart? What happened in that moment of choice? Some say that God was disobeyed and so his wrath was stirred. I think its much more sad and tragic than that. God had created these children to live in the trusting, loving relationship that he enjoyed as himself. They would walk together and he would teach them all about the world he’d created. But now...
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?"
He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid."
How deeply did God feel those words? These children were not created to be afraid of the Father, they were created to run to God when something else caused them to fear. And he said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?"
Perhaps many people read those questions as an accusation. Maybe it would be more accurate to read them as a lament. It’s as if God is saying, with tears in his eyes, “you have no idea what you’ve just done.”
You see their choice to doubt and distrust meant that life together in the garden would no longer be possible. They had chosen chaos and the order and peace of the presence of God would seem like constant torture. They would constantly life in fear of the presence of God and so they would have to leave the garden...
But God would not send them out alone. He clothed them, he told them would life would be like outside the garden. He warned them of the hardships that would come and he taught them how to survive. More than that he let them know that he had already prepared a plan to recreate and restore them. This crisis was terrible and tragic, but it would not have the last word. It WILL not have the last word.
Today we continue to experience this tragedy. We live in a world that is groaning and longing to be restored and reconciled by God. In this world tears are commonplace. We experience hurt, betrayal, sickness, loss, confusion and doubt. The darkness holds unknown monsters and we are afraid.
The children still have the image of God glowing within them and sometimes it even shines. But the lack of trust is like a thick layer of grime over the lens of the lamp...the light is muted and sometimes appears just plain dark.
We still write songs about God, we still crave beauty, but our eyes don’t see as well as they used to and our ears often strain to hear the melody. It seems that most of the time we’re groping around in the dark unable to find the window shade that we know is blocking the light that still shines, unable to open that heavy thick door which mutes the sounds and songs that stir our soul.
But nothing can completely keep the light out; nothing can silence the song of creation. The door may be able to keep our ears from hearing the words of the song, but we can feel the deep thump of the bass. We feel the song more than hear it...and it still calls to us.
The crisis continues but there is hope. This tragedy didn’t destroy life or light or hope - they are all pressing against the gates of this hell. God's eternal community of love is breaking in even as we speak.
Children I have a message from God - these gates will not hold him back. He’s coming for you. Hold on, your rescue is close.