I struggled with depression for years and years and years, for most of my life, really. I actually get depressed just thinking about getting depressed again, it sucks that bad. The thing about depression is that you aren’t just in a bad mood. It’s not that you are sad and cry easily, or that you sit around crying for no reason. It’s that you aren’t operating as a human being. Your soul knows that it is supposed to act one way (smile at the beautiful sunshine, because it is giving life to you as it shines on you), but your head is not letting you. It is keeping you hostage. It takes that natural instinct of satisfaction in the sunshine and washes it in bleach, so that it looks like the rest of what you just felt. I think it’s like starting to feel something and then, every single time, you stop mid-feeling. Imagine that our thoughts and feelings are all riding a train, and they all look and seem as different as they are supposed to.  At the last stop, before they come out of us as words or actions, something malfunctions, they drive through a force-field that zaps everything into bone-white empty boxes.   This is why people don’t actually like being depressed, or why you can’t say, “I don’t mind being depressed.” This is why depression is an actual physiological thing and not something we decide to ‘try out’.

I didn’t know how to find God in the midst of my depression.  It does turn out that He was there all along, and that’s something that I really appreciate about Him.  I have learned that I can simply trust that He is always there, always interceding for me; it may not seem like it at the time but my own personal experiences have shown that I could always look back and recognize His hand.

God really does like to make sure that He keeps His promises to us.  As humans, we have a lot of junk to deal with.  Junk inside of ourselves, inside of other people, even the most beautiful and innocent piece of nature has some kind of junk.  It’s hard to believe He is there a lot of the time.  Everyone always breaks their promises at some point or another, and it’s our natural instinct to assume that God will too.  A lot of us are on the lookout for ways to say that God has broken His promises.  Some of us, like me, just fall asleep and wait until God comes to rescue us.  I thought that I didn’t have to do anything; if I just keep my eyes closed that one day when I opened them everything would look different.  But not only different, it would look better.

Because of my depression I was very frustrated, so I dealt with a lot of anger.  Just about everything made me angry. I remember feeling so angry that my friend was buying her first house, even though they weren’t going about it in a stupid way. It really was the best option for them. I remember just being bent out of shape, and I was so frustrated that I was angry, because I knew that it didn’t make an ounce of sense to be angry; somewhere inside of me I was trying to be happy for her and to be excited for her but I couldn’t. I could only be angry.

A lot of people would say that I didn’t have to get angry.  I thought the same thing myself.  I thought that I was choosing to get angry, even though I didn’t want to.  I mean, if you get down to it, anger is basically deliberate. HOWEVER, at some point the angry people have to recognize what is happening, and see how much it makes our own lives suck, and the lives of the people around us.  Honestly, though, a lot of people just plain like to get angry. It makes them feel good about themselves. They associate it with power and validation and justice, so they think they have a right to be angry. I can honestly say that I did not like it.  I hated it.  I felt like I was infected by a disease, that I was dying, and no matter how hard I ran, I couldn’t outrun what was right inside of me.

Once the angry people have self-awareness that we have become a slave to one single emotion, and that it is ruining our lives, we need to go about making it right. It’s not okay to just shrug and say, “This is how it is. This is how I am.” That simply isn’t true. We aren’t meant to be angry. Angry isn’t a personality trait. It’s a defense. It is ammunition for a war. We don’t get to start making excuses for it, or for ourselves.

I spent a lot of time gnashing my teeth and harassing God, asking Him, “Why don’t You fight for me?”  I was incredibly angry, and this was the real kind of anger, not the kind of frustrated anger.  This was angry at God kind of anger, which looks unlike anything else.  One day, clear as day, a shot of calm through the tumult inside of me, He asked me, “Why don’t you fight for yourself?”  I thought that was really wrong.  I am only a small human, and I should not have to fight my battles.  God was supposed to vindicate me like all of those really empowering verses say.  From then on, every time I would ask Him, why didn’t He fight for me, I felt His same answer coming back to me.

This went on for a really long time.

On top of getting angry that the depression was stealing from me and I was plain getting tired of it, I was anxious. When you hear somebody say they have anxiety it doesn’t mean they don’t like sitting still, or that they are high-energy. It means that they are solely focused on everything going wrong. This is usually the problem of control-freaks.  Obviously something is wrong if it isn’t is in our control.  Obviously.  And since depression takes the control away from us, we begin to feel anxiety; we begin to see that the world is literally swirling down a huge giant toilet. This is what people mean when they say the world is going to hell in a handbasket. It isn’t a handbasket, it is a giant toilet with the loudest flush that ever flushed.

Since the world is being flushed down the toilet the person with anxiety feels like they are simultaneously spinning like mad and drowning. It is not surprising for people with anxiety to puke a lot, and that’s a fact. I don’t actually know that it is a fact, but I am basically certain that it is. At least it was for me. I got a lot of migraines, and my nerves were bad, and so I would puke a lot. My body was apparently trying to purge the disease. Some people smoke or drink because of their anxiety. I puked.

Occasionally when making small talk people would ask what I did for fun.  The pressure I felt from that question began to hammer on all hollow parts of my body.  I felt the physical pain of this as my anxiety would flare up.  The sad truth was that I didn’t do a good job of having fun unless a lot was going on and a lot of people were involved or unless someone else was doing all the talking. I had really reached the point where I was totally unrelatable. I honest to God didn’t relax. I would swear to God but that is taboo. I was always doing something. Even in my downtime I was keeping busy with something else. I would work on a project while watching TV. When I slept my dreams were all bad. I felt like I was producing so much energy that my skin hurt, my hairs were standing on end, my head ached constantly. I am shocked that I did not set off car alarms just by walking by, or that dogs didn’t bark at me because they could hear a high-frequency whine coming off of me, or that I didn’t cause all the light bulbs to blow up and rain down on us all.  I realized that I was always rocking my teeth back and forth against each other, that my knee was always bouncing.  People would comment on this bouncing knee.  “Nervous?” they would ask.  I don’t remember what I said in response.  Probably something like that I was cold.  Which was probably also true. I was always cold.  We called it being a freeze-baby.

If it sounds like I am being melodramatic, I suppose in part this is because I am a writer and I have to get you to sympathize with what I am saying.  Also, I tended towards the sensational in a rather low key kind of way, if that is allowed.  I don’t think I tried to mask my brooding, what I liked to refer to as my ‘depth’, unfortunately for the rest of the world.  I was occasionally outlandish and brazen but ultimately I was a sullen individual, not prone to casual conversation, and a lot of people admit that they did not find me to be friendly.  Unless we were actually friends.  Because I was what the times referred to as ‘emo’ this made me kind of proud.  I am really embarrassed about this.  I guess looking back I can say that the ‘emo’ phase ended after I entered the military at the ripe old age of 17, and it transformed into recklessness and various forms of lunacy.  By the time I got of the military at the ripe old age of 22 I was an actual stone instead of a person, and this was to save everyone and mostly myself from what was going on inside of me.

Thank goodness I began to be tired of it all.  I wasn’t an imbecile.  I knew that I needed help, but I flat-out forbade myself from seeking it.  I was completely against the stigma.  Been there done that.  Unfortunately, the practitioners I had seen as a ‘troubled’ teenager probably thought I was pathetic, they barely tried to tap into me, they were happy to prescribe my pills and weren’t interested at all to know me.  I lied to them a lot.  I wasn’t interested in doing the same thing all over again.

It was kind of a miracle that I wound up telling the physician that I didn’t care if I drove my car into a tree.

It kind of just came out.

I know how that sounds, but it wasn’t a melodramatic moment at all.  She was asking the questions she was supposed to ask, and I think I just sighed in resignation and said, “Well, ma’am, quality of life really isn’t that great right now, considering I wouldn’t even mind if my car wound up driving into a tree.”  I’m sure I smiled apologetically, and she didn’t write down, “Watches too many romance movies.”  She told me what we could do about that.

I was getting evaluated at the VA because I had been out of the military for about a year by then, and they wanted to do a follow-up to make sure that I was doing okay, physically and mentally.  By then I couldn’t stop focusing on the fact that something was really wrong with me, and that my husband deserved to be with someone who would be proactive and responsible.  I knew in my heart that I couldn’t be a good wife if I was refusing to find a better way.

I like to think that I would have eventually girded my loins and taken the plunge into the bottomless and icy cold black hole of the mental health world on my own. What it really comes down to, though, if I am remembering correctly, is that my cousin was going to school to get her degree in therapy at the same time I couldn’t stop thinking about giving it a try again. I told her that I had been having a nagging in the back of my bleached out mind about going to therapy, but I just couldn’t understand why it was necessary. What was the difference of talking to my friends, or some stranger getting paid to listen to me?  It made me angry to think about, to tell you the truth. It made me feel taken advantage of and out-of-control. It made me want to say ‘damnit’ all the time, and I did. And probably a lot worse.

Very nicely she said to me, “Well, cousin…” (we all call each other cousin, not in a hill-billy back-country kind of way but in the kind of way you would say ‘mom’ or ‘dad’ or ‘aunt’ or ‘your majesty’ or ‘teacher’. It is who they are, and it really brings people a good laugh when they are around us. It fills them with joy, really, to see us be so reverent about each other). She said,” Well, cousin, a therapist is a professional. And that means they hear what you have to say, and then they teach you the proper skills to help you work through that, so that you don’t have to deal with it anymore, and so that you can know what to do in the future.”

This was very distracting for me.  It was very distracting because now it made sense.  Now I had to do it.

Then the VA contacted me and told me about the evaluation, and it was during that visit that I revealed my complacency about life and/or driving to the physician, and then I found myself on my first visit to my new therapist.

I was very nervous about this lady not being a Christian, but I had to go to her because she was free through the VA and because God wanted to use her in such an amazing way in my life. She could never know how much He worked through her. And that is just so beautiful to me. God always finds a way to keep His promises, even when it doesn’t seem like He has anything to use. He can use anything He wants. And I love that. My therapist did not profess Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior, but she for sure equipped me and walked me through a very dark night of the soul and here I am today, living out loud for Christ, and all because of her. She didn’t even get to see me through until the end; she didn’t even get to see the dawn breaking over me, shedding light into my bleached out mind, but it all started with her. Do you remember how the Bible says to plant the seed, to nurture the seeds that others have planted, even if we don’t see the results? This woman wasn’t even a Christian and she was living by that principle.

I am so strong now, so healthy, so confident and secure that I am probably kind of annoying.

I gave my therapist a really hard time the first time I went to see her. The first couple times. The whole time, actually, as I’m looking back on it. You would think that I had a court order to be there, or something.

Most of what we talked about eludes me, but I left my time with her full to the brim and recharged on three basic principles.

The first thing was mindfulness. This may sound very New Age and Buddhist to the more spiritually sensitive of you. I will confess right here and now that I am an avid practicer of yoga, but that you shouldn’t be alarmed because I am in no way a Yogi.  I love the exercise of yoga: I do not worship it, or myself, or my ‘practice’, but it is impossible to feel yucky inside out after leaving yoga.  Yoga is the epitome of mindfulness, which is life-changing for someone with anxiety.

Mindfulness is the process of removing thoughts from your mind. I’m not sure what the actual definition of it is, but that is what I took away from it. Anxiety usually yields about 100 thoughts in just as many seconds. None of them make sense, and none of them do any good. They are just exhausting, which yields even more anxiety. It is even worse when a single thought revisits on rapid fire. I’ve spent hours, even days, honestly I’ve spent years, obsessing over the same thoughts and ideas. And the really awful thing is that no matter how much I thought about them they didn’t change, or get better, or resolve. My mind was on the fritz. I didn’t want any of it to be going on inside of me, but I was completely hijacked inside.

Mindfulness is picturing the actual process of taking out these thoughts and putting them away. Setting them on a leaf that goes floating by, if you will. It is recognizing that the world does not end, and that no one is in jeopardy, if I say no to some of my many thoughts. As this is practiced it becomes easier to be aware of racing thoughts, and to harness them and reign them in. To discard them and shuffle them about. I never sat down by myself and practiced the actual meditative process of mindfulness, but I developed an awareness about my mental process, and with practice I have gotten very good at keeping my thoughts in check. Anti-anxiety medicine really helps with this, just saying.

With room in my mind, Dr. K and I were able to start digging around in there. What is actually going on in here?
we said.

This is when the ultimate enlightening moment of my life came about.  I hope that the word ‘enlightening’ is not offensive to you since I was just talking about yoga and mindfulness.  I don’t mean it in the Eastern way of ‘transcendence’ but in the more historical way of ‘the dawning of reason’.  You see, I learned that boundaries are not only healthy but necessary for a relationship to work well.  Dr. K and I spent a long time working on that, and what it’s supposed to look like, and I suddenly found myself able to be in relationships with other people. I had gone for so long in unhealthy relationships, and then basically refusing to have any relationships or have them to the fullest. That began to change, and I began to see and realize the merit, the actual benefit, of other human beings. Not only that, but that I also could be beneficial to others, and that I mattered too. It was like coming alive, and that is really cool.  If the word ‘enlightment’ bothered you just pretend I said ‘cool’.

Then my number two enlightening (or cool) moment happened, which is the third principle from my time with Dr. K. EMN 1 could not have been so successful without EMN 2, and vice versa.

I think this is when I really began to stop giving her such a hard time. Like I said, I gave her a hard time.  I was really aggressive with this lady, and it wasn’t necessarily because I wanted to be a jerk but because there was an actual physical process inside of me that kept me from interacting openly with another human being.  I mean, I would go in the closet to cry so that not even my husband would know.  I knew that this lady would have to drag me out of myself, and by the grace of God she rose to the challenge.  By the third session she had thrown out the relaxed posture with her hands folded and she was sitting up straighter; she completely changed her tone of voice from docile to challenging, and she began to fill in the silences, keeping things moving, pushing back at my shoves. It was quite exhilarating, really, and I probably should have taken my running shoes to each appointment so that I could have gone for a jog after each one. That probably would have been a really good idea.

EMN 1 came early on in our relationship, and EMN 2 about halfway through. I was really ready for EMN 2. I only remember that she stopped us in the middle of our conversation. I was probably saying something about how angry it made me feel when people say that happiness is a choice. I used to want to throw bricks at people when they said that: wouldn’t I actually be happy if I could be? I wanted to say ‘damnit’ at them and throw some bricks. How my mind would protest.

She probably stopped me when I was in the middle of protesting about that, and she had me stand up.
We were in an office, so it was kind of cramped quarters, and I was feeling kind of embarrassed about having to stand up, but it would have been even more embarrassing to refuse, so I did what she said.

She gave me her empty trash bin and filled it up with some enormous books from her bookshelf, of which there were a plethora.  She told me that the trash bin full of psych material was like my depression. She made me hold the bin out as far from my body as I could and walk across the room. Of course I wanted to be good at it but I wasn’t, because the point wasn’t about being good at it, it was about how hard it was to carry a burden like that. She told me then to hold the bin in a way that was comfortable for me, and to walk across the room like that, and so I did.

The depression is there either way, she told me. It’s not about getting rid of the depression, because it will be there as long as it will be there. It’s about how we manage it. It’s about how we ‘hold’ it. The depression wasn’t myself, it was a burden in my life, it was something that I had to have at the time being, which is why I took it so personally, because I couldn’t get rid of it, but I could manage it well if I only knew how.

I’m really glad that I didn’t start laughing my head off, or even crying for that matter, because that would have really ruined the moment for me. The point is that I suddenly felt so incredibly liberated that I wanted to celebrate.

I left that day a new person.

The depression did not leave me right after my time with Dr. K.  It was as she said it was, just something in my life.  I continued taking my medicine, and I coupled it with therapy off and on. I learned how to manage my thoughts and feelings while my body was being mended. I would not have been able to bridge the gap emotionally if the gaps had not been bridged physiologically, I know that for certain.

I learned that the best way to get rid of anxiety was not to bully myself through it but to accept that I needed an anti-inflammatory.  This is the cool way of describing anti-anxiety medicine.  I heard it on one of the many radio programs that I listen to, and thankfully Christian radio today tries to get the word out that it’s okay to take psychiatric medicine; that we don’t have to feel guilty for it, like we’re not letting the Holy Spirit do His job if we are on them or something.  The one guy on the radio program explained how anti-anxiety medicine is like an anti-inflammatory for the brain, and that really resonated with me.  I would go from 0-60 in a second flat, become so agitated so quickly that my mind would literally be spinning, and all of this felt compounded because I am an internal kind of person and never threw things or yelled my head off or anything like that.  So the anti-inflammatory meds for my mind probably really lengthened my life by a few years.  They say that stress shaves off some of our time, and stress is one word for what I was going through.

The medication helped me prioritize.  Since, like anyone with a good case of anxiety, I was a control freak, I had to learn how to let God be in charge.  I really wanted to let God be in charge, but this is probably what took me the longest to achieve, and I am still achieving it even today.  It has been one heck of a process, letting go little bits here, little bits there, always finding new ones, always discovering that I have taken back a previously surrendered area.  At this time in my life, and for some time now, I can honestly say that I do not worry much because I have complete confidence in the Maker of the Heavens and the Earth, and you can take that straight to the bank.

The greatest freedom a person can know is the sweetest surrender.

In time I began to feel the sneaking suspicion that I wasn’t depressed anymore. It was creeping up on me sometimes, the thought that I was free of it. But I was too afraid to think about it outright, and too afraid to say it out loud. I had been depressed most of my life, it seemed straight-up impossible to not be anymore. I didn’t want to draw attention to it in case I got depressed again right away and had to be like, “Nevermind.”

Sure enough, though, it was really gone, and I began to talk about it.

It didn’t stay away forever. Everyone has a bent, and mine is depression and anxiety, but at least I understand that it will not last forever, that it cannot last forever if I am doing my part. I am so thankful to God for that, and I pray His blessings on all those amazing doctors and specialists out there who change people’s lives by helping them see what life really looks like.

Throughout the Bible we see the same story being told over and over again.

Perhaps this is because history just repeats itself.  The same events are being recorded, only with ever more modern themes.  I think this points to the blatant fact that human beings are inherently the same.  We have the same instincts, the same natural inclinations, and we are always trying to fight them and each other.  Even in this age of elevated thinking and heightened awareness (uber, if you will), we still see countries trying to dominate one another, and people groups trying to stamp out their competitors.  People still buy and sell their own kind, for various purposes, We are still doing unthinkable things for unthinkable reasons.

The process behind Noah’s flood really isn’t that hard to digest.

We just think it is because it will never happen again.

We get to boast and brag and complain about a flood that wiped out human kind because we have the promise, from God Himself, that it will never happen again.

[If you are interested in the actual science behind the flood account, I can point you in the direction of an amazing organization called Answers in Genesis.  You will find any and all answers to absolutely every question you could have, especially when it comes to science and apologetics relating to the accounts throughout Genesis, particularly the first few chapters.  It’s truly fascinating material. answersingenesis.com]

Right now, though, I’m going to talk about the spiritual side.

Regardless of our religious affiliation or background the majority of us probably know the story of Noah.  God tells Noah to build an ark, the animals go in two by two, the floods go up and the rains come down, and everyone but Noah and his family die.  We sing the cute song with the hand motions, and we see the terrifying images of people clinging to rocks.  It’s kind of weird that we smile and laugh and dance with our children about it: it really is the stuff of nightmares.  I think it’s easy to sing the song.  But this was the real deal, and I don’t think Noah and his family were lounging on cushions discussing their new world resolutions as the great deluge raged about them.  They probably really wanted to save people.  Like really, really bad.  I think only the absolute worst kind of person wouldn’t want to start hauling the lost people up onto the boat.  Which is exactly why it wasn’t the worst kind of person being saved.  I think Noah and his family probably had nightmares for a long time.  After the earth begins to recover we find Noah passed out drunk, and I really don’t blame him.  But I’m getting ahead of myself…

What if the story of Noah isn’t about why God sent the flood, but why He chose to save Noah?

After all, Noah wasn’t just someone that got the lucky end of ‘eeny meeny miny mo’.

The author of Genesis is so incredibly specific about the way he/she writes.  This person used parallels, narratives, and wordplays constantly.  The average person would immediately become bored if I even tried to lay it out and make the comparisons.  We can rest assured, though, that the author is very deliberate in what they choose to say, and how they choose to say it.

We go immediately from Adam and Eve, on through the geneology, and on to the introduction of Noah.  “Lamech…fathered a son, and called his name Noah, saying, ‘Out of the ground that the Lord has cursed, this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the painful toil of our hands’.” (Genesis 5:29).

This is just plain astonishing.

The Old Testament is full of names that reflect the person’s character, long before the character would even be revealed.  The process for this is a mystery and a wonder, but I don’t think it was ever coincidental.  From this simple verse I get the feeling that Noah’s father was a believing man, and that he had a glimpse from the Holy Spirit of the part his son would play in the making of history.  He must have been the one to teach his son Noah the ways of God, since nobody else believed anymore.  I’m not saying that he was of the strongest character, since the following verse shows that Lamech had other sons and daughters, but it doesn’t say anything about their character.  As a matter of fact, they must have been very wicked indeed because they were not chosen to be saved with Noah.  We don’t see Noah being supported by any of his family, and that is truly a tragedy.

Thank goodness for Noah.  The story is really about him, and why he was so special.

The Bible is chock full of God being faithful to His blessings.  It’s easy to think of God as punishing people, but the very first thing He did was bless the earth, and bless human beings, and He continues to bless them even after terrible things happen.

As people we deal with emotions and reactions that God doesn’t have trouble with.  We think of building a project, the project doesn’t work, so we get frustrated and throw it out.  Thankfully, God is not the ‘giving up’ kind of God.  Aborting what He had made (i.e. torching the earth and sucking the life from Adam and Eve) would have gone so completely against His nature.  He saw what He had made, and He knew that it was good.  He would nurture it and provide a way, always.  Mankind was made in His image; the entire earth has His thumbprint all over it.   For all of those reasons it didn’t make sense for Eve to be the one to give birth to Jesus and have the great sacrifice be made during that time.  Adam and Eve had lived in actual physical communion with God.  They chose a different way.  Jesus came exactly when it was appropriate for Him to come, and thousands of years later we still talk about Him, and He still changes lives.

There isn’t always an answer that puts to rest some really deep questions.  We will never know the depth of God or His reasons behind things, until He actually tells us.  I like to think of those blessings, though, the ones He wants to keep on giving and giving.  Since I’m by nature a control freak this helps me submit to the Bigger Picture.

The problem with the world in Noah’s time, though, is that everyone was wicked.   Everyone.  And the word ‘wicked’ isn’t just some favorite Bible-ism.  It means ‘morally bad’.  Everyone at that time was morally bad.  We all know what happens when people have no morals.  Here is where we see that infamous term Nephilim, who verse 4 of chapter 6 calls “the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown”.  The Bible doesn’t really elaborate on what this could mean, but the explanation from Matthew Henry makes the most sense to me: “The wickedness of a people is great indeed, when noted sinners are men renowned among them.”  As a matter of fact, there was no hope for God’s plan of redemption since everyone was so corrupt.

Except for Noah.  The Bible calls Noah a righteous man.  It says that he walked with God.  The last person we hear about walking with God was Enoch, towards the end of chapter 5.  Twice in two verses it says he walked with God.  In fact, he must have walked with God right up into Heaven, because one day he literally disappeared and verse 24 says that God took him.  Enoch is the perfect example for anyone seeking life: walk with God.

We know where walking with God got Noah.  It got him onto the ark.

“And the Lord regretted that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him to His heart.” Genesis 6:6

It’s hard for people to read this part, and I think many try to use awkward passages like this as a scapegoat for choosing not to believe the Bible is true.  It would surely be against God’s character to regret something because He never makes mistakes.  Therefore, we must remove the possibility that God got it wrong the first time, and wanted to send the Flood so that He could have a do-over.

Instead, let’s look at the things we already know: the author of Genesis constantly uses wordplays, it was his/her style of writing.  Also, God is an emotional God.  Not in the unstable way of us humans, but He feels things deeply and beautifully and this is how we find ourselves so drawn to Him.  We have to allow that humans wrote the Bible, and therefore the Bible describes God’s actions and emotions in terms of human actions and emotions.  God’s holiness must regret what sin had done to those created in His image.  He had an amazing plan for the earth, and for living in communion with all of His creation.  His heart was surely broken.

God had told the serpent that the woman would bear a seed (a child) that would crush the serpent’s head.  Jesus was going to come and be the ultimate sacrifice.  That was impossible with the way things were going.  You have to remember:  every single person was corrupt.  Maybe this is seriously hard to believe, but I don’t think it really is.  People were still pretty primitive back in those days, and not in a caveman kind of way, but people back then had nothing.  Literally nothing.  They had nature, and everything else had to be thought out, imagined, and created by them.  They didn’t have options, they didn’t have supplies, they didn’t have history to consult, they didn’t have the time to learn what we already know.  Already in the second generation, the second generation of all human beings of all time, there was murder.  It only got worse from there.  God even gave men a 120 year grace period to get their act together, which they didn’t do (Genesis 6:3).  God couldn’t let the earth remain cursed.  He had already made His promise.  So He had to make it possible for the promise to be fulfilled.  It doesn’t matter what we as human beings try to do, God will always make a way to keep His promises.

Which is why the story of the Flood isn’t about God destroying the earth but about God saving Noah.  As a matter of fact, we don’t see a whole lot about the actual flood, and we don’t get any further insight into the other humans except that they were continually evil.

But not Noah.

Noah walked with God.

As we saw with the example of Enoch, walking with God literally means life.

It said that Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. It doesn’t even say that he was perfect, it just says that he was blameless in his generation.  He was righteous because he chose to be righteous in a time of complete delinquency, and this saved him and his family.  It doesn’t even say that his wife and his sons and their wives were all that great, but apparently they got grandfathered in on Noah’s good marks.  In just a few short verses we read four times that Noah did what the Lord had commanded.  This was to include building the ark, storing food, and setting aside the animals.  Building that ark is what developed Noah’s trust in God.  He would surely need it for what was to come.  Without that trust he could not have been so patient.

I don’t think there has ever been another person as patient as Noah.  He didn’t even have sons until he was 500 years old!  It was another 100 years before the Flood came, do some math and calculating it could have taken up to 75 years (maximum) to build the ark.  Remember the part about people not having access to supplies?  It’s not really a surprise that it would take decades to build such a massive structure, and then supply it with enough provisions.  Noah and his family sit in the ark, all sealed up, for 7 days before the rain even comes, and the bad weather continued for 40 days.  Weather so bad that the tectonic plates shifted, earthquakes were going nuts, volcanoes were exploding, the heavens were pouring down rain (which no one had ever seen before) and the animals were probably going berserk.  I can’t even imagine.  The floodwaters didn’t even begin to recede for 5 months, and it took two more months before the ark came to rest on top of a mountain.  But wait, there’s more!  It was another three months (we are looking ten months by now) before they could see more mountaintops, and then Noah spent some time sending out birds to check and see if the land was dry.  After a whole year of being on the ark Noah takes off the top of the ark (had they literally been sheltered this entire time?) and sees the land.  But it was almost two more months before the earth was considered ‘dried out’.  Even then, Noah waits for God’s command to leave the ark.

Noah is legitimately a saint.  Once things quieted down could you even imagine how annoying your family would have become?  I wonder if this is when dogs became man’s best friend?  At any rate, I hope this family was able to discover the hidden treasure of the parrot, or how much fun monkeys are.  This is probably when chess was invented, or even monopoly, which is why nobody really likes to play that game, especially not families.

This is where the part about epic repetition comes in: we get a condensed version of the creation story (it happens again with Abraham, and with the nation Israel).  God calls out Noah and his family, and all of the living creatures.  He then blessed all of nature and every living thing.  Just like in the beginning He tells them to be fruitful and multiply.

The first thing that Noah does when he comes out of the ark is make a sacrifice to God.  He starts off right.  He knows that God has spared him and his family, and he wants to honor God.  And then God blesses Noah.  Just like in the beginning he tells Noah’s family to be fruitful and multiply.  He tells them that they have dominion over the entire earth, just like Adam and Eve did.  He warns them, too, that the responsibility is not to be taken lightly: it is their right, as beings created in His image, to rule the earth as they were intended to, but to be aware that they will give a reckoning for their actions.  How many of us know that responsibility should not be taken lightly?

The rainbow isn’t God’s sobriety coin.  We aren’t supposed to look at it and think, “Man, it’s been so long since God lost it and flooded the earth.”  I can’t stress enough how in control God was and is and always will be.  We cannot think of Him in terms of our own reactions and feelings.  He didn’t throw a temper tantrum, or lose it on His kids like we tend to do.  He is God.  The One True Sovereign Being.  Remember, He gave mankind 120 years to try and turn things around.  This isn’t just chump change of time.  And He wanted to redeem the earth because He loved it and knew that it was good.  He didn’t want to turn His back on it.  So He waited, as a patient God is willing to do, and then He took action, as a just God is willing to do.  If He had turned His back on the earth I imagine mankind would have killed themselves off long ago, and I wouldn’t even be sitting at this computer trying to convince you.  It really is so obvious that the story of Noah is about redemption.  It’s about God keeping His promises.

The rainbow is another symbol that God has given us.  He loves to give us symbols, as reassurance to us because, let’s be honest, humans need a lot of reassurance  (“Do you love me?”  “What do you like about me?”  “Will you ever betray me?”).  God’s heart is for us, and so He works with us, and not against us.  Just like the tree was a real tree, but an actual symbol of free will, so the rainbow is a real rainbow but it is the symbol of God’s promise.  He doesn’t need it like we need the Serenity Prayer.  It’s not his count-to-ten, or mantra (“I will not destroy the earth ever again, I will not destroy the earth ever again, I will not destroy the earth ever again”).  It’s not the tattoo that says, “I got this right after that really bad time in my life so that I never make those mistakes again.”  In case you haven’t understood me by now: the rainbow isn’t for God, it’s for us.

I wear my wedding ring to show the world that I am committed to my husband.  People can look at my hand and know that I am married, and they will then know that they cannot ask me on a date, or try to hook me up with their friends.  Okay, so that really does happen, but the purpose of the wedding ring is still the same, regardless of whether or not others respect it.  Or even if I do.

Just as God established that covenant with all the flesh of the earth, covering it with the umbrella of the rainbow, He also wants to establish a covenant with each individual piece of flesh, if you will.  The animals don’t have free will, they don’t have souls, they are adornment of this earth, but mankind was made in God’s image.  We are meant to be in covenant with Him.  I have found that by sacrificing my own life to His plan, even though it will never compare to the sacrifice and trust that was required of Noah, that I too can be provided for and spared the ultimate death that will inevitably separate us all unless we choose a different way.






For example, towards the end of the story we see that God ‘remembered’ Noah on the ark, but this doesn’t mean that God actually forgot Noah and his family.  He doesn’t black out, or take a nap after the great deluge and then snap awake knowing that He forgot something but not able to put His finger on it.  God isn’t Winnie-the-Pooh (“Oh botha’…think think think“).




It’s church, people.  It could also be Christian, since Christians and church generally go hand in hand.

And why is that?

Because God designed the church.

So what is it?  And why did He do it?  And what does that mean for a Christian?

It seems that the people who have bad experiences in a church (or, heaven forbid, churches), or who do not know much about it, think that it is unnecessary.

Than why does it exist?  Better yet, why does it thrive?  Why do people risk their lives to meet in secret?  Regardless of the persecution of the church, and Christianity, regardless of how it is misunderstood, people continue to step through its doors, helping hands continue to reach out, and lives continue to change.

To be sure, attending a church doesn’t get you into Heaven.  You have to have reached the understanding that Jesus paved the way and bridged the gap, that He sacrificed so we could go free, and to acknowledge that you are in need of what He did.  So, no, attending a church won’t get me into Heaven, but it is necessary to help me be an effective and faithful Christian.  You can say you are on the soccer team all you want, and even wear the jersey, but if you aren’t going to practice and making it to the games than you are really just someone wearing a bright shirt.

I’ll only take a minute to address that troublesome spin-off which is ‘denominations’.  In my experience, which I admit isn’t terribly a lot, denominations do more for causing division than for supporting doctrine.  There are less mistakes to be made, less people to hurt, when our main focus is on Jesus and not on man-made protocol, or personal opinions about such things as clothes and food.  That being said, I don’t condemn or condone any or all denominations.  The most important thing to be considered is whether or not the Bible is being represented and taught accurately.  If you feel that you are honoring God by wearing skirts or by abstaining from alcohol, honor away; however, that is between you and God.  Not between you and me and God.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way…

I have heard it said that if we want to love God we have to learn to love what He loves.  Which would be His family, the church.  God loves the church so much, in fact, that He modeled marriage to look like His relationship with the church. (Eph. 5:22-32).  There is no greater expression of love than marriage!  To be sure, the church has had several failures throughout history; even now churches fail to appropriately express what God has asked of them.  The letters to the churches that Paul wrote thousands of years ago are just as applicable to us today.  We need to keep in mind that wherever there are humans there is bound to be failure.  There are bound to be hypocrites in a church because there are bound to be hypocrites everywhere.  We all fall short, but the point is for God to teach us how to love and help one another through it all.

Denominations aside, the Bible doesn’t specifically say, “You must go to church.”  It isn’t part of the 10 Commandments.  The Bible also doesn’t say, “Don’t do drugs.”  But it does say that we are to be imitators of Christ, and nowhere do we see Him advocating for the legalizing of marijuana.  We do, however, see Him going to church.  We see Him establishing communion, which is meant to be taken in a group setting.  I have known people who have thought that smoking weed was completely acceptable in the eyes of God.  Once marijuana was legalized in our state one particular individual wanted to start a small group for potheads.  The point is that we want what we want, and we are going to try and get it even if it conflicts with the Truth.  Nothing is supposed to possess or alter our minds and spirits other than the Holy Spirit.  And only people who are afraid, or angry, or even proud hide from the church.

For those of you that I haven’t lost after that last sentence, let’s hone in on the 10 Commandments for a few minutes.

The early part of the Bible (the first half of the Old Testament, really) focuses a lot on laws and regulations.  You will see the word ‘tabernacle’ and ‘priest’, ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’.  There is a lot about punishments, and even more about sacrifices.  All of this was spoken by God to one man; his name was Moses.  Moses relayed this information to his people, the Israelites.  The Israelites were God’s chosen people, and that didn’t mean He loved an Israelite more than a Canaanite, but the Israelites were supposed to be a representation of what His people were supposed to look like (i.e. act like).  Since nobody knows how to do the right thing off the top of their head, it needs to be taught to us, once God delivered the Israelites out of slavery He sat them all down and said, “You saw what I am capable of, and how much I care.  If you obey my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession.” (Genesis 19:4-5).  In essence, God was asking Israel to marry Him.  Marriage is a covenant.  He would be faithful to Israel if she would be faithful to Him.  That’s how marriage works.  The 10 Commandments is the core of the covenant.

For the record, the 10 Commandments did not introduce ‘sin’.  Just because the 10 Commandments are the first ‘rules’ we see written down doesn’t mean that no one had technically sinned up until that point.  All sin has its roots in idolatry, which is putting something in the place of the Creator.  In the instance of Adam and Eve, they wanted to be like God in knowing good and evil.  Once they understand what evil was they were suddenly introduced to a whole new set of choices, and making the wrong choice on purpose is sin.  Adam and Eve knew not to eat from that specific tree, which is what made that choice the first sin.  The awareness they incurred is what established each sin after that, right down to the ones that I commit.  It is my responsibility to communicate with God to make sure that my knowledge of evil isn’t clouding over my knowledge of good and that everything is in its place, so that I’m not committing sins.  I don’t want to sin because I don’t want to take advantage of His amazing gift of grace.  But before there was grace, atonement, there was the Law.

The Law said that a penalty needed to be paid for the sins an individual committed.  Our sins separate us from God- He can’t pretend that we don’t know what we aren’t supposed to know.  In order to be forgiven, and restored to Him, a penalty must be paid.  This is how life works: you do the crime you pay the time, and then are released back into society.  God required innocent animals to be sacrificed as a way of saying, “Sin causes innocent blood to be shed.  I will spare you and receive this animal instead.”   The tabernacle was generally the place where these sacrifices were conducted.  It was the physical place that God could be.  It was His holy place, and when the people looked at it they knew He was there.

The tabernacle is not the same thing as the church.  Once Jesus came as the ultimate price the need for sacrifices was removed.  It was still practiced, as the culture tended to continue living the way they had always lived, which was under the Law.  The New Testament is ripe with conviction about living under the Law, which negates what Jesus did for us.  We no longer have to go to a building and sacrifice animals to be in His presence; His Spirit lives inside of us if we ask Him too.

So what’s the point of church?

The very nature of God’s presence is relational: the Trinity!  The Trinity is God in three persons.  The word ‘person’ is not to be confused with the every day term for a human being, but the philosophical usage which acknowledges that a person is a ‘rational being’.  This Trinity does not mean one God with multiple personalities.  It doesn’t mean that God is a man who had a son named Jesus, and then has a soul, like us, called the Holy Spirit.  It doesn’t mean that God was God in Heaven, He came down to earth to be a human and went by the name Jesus, and then after Jesus died He became a Ghost.  The Trinity means that there is one God in three persons.  If this doesn’t make sense than you are on the right track.  If you have decided that you have made sense of the Trinity I can tell you right now that you are wrong.  God is not something to be made sense of.  He made us.  We did not make Him.  It is important to clarify who God really is before we continue on thinking of Him like we think of our own kind.

God moves specifically in a corporate setting.  He designed the worship service so that we could have the fullness of the experience [of His presence].  Attaching yourself to a body of believers is more than just showing up to a service.  Everyone has been given different skills and gifts, and these were meant to operate together for the good of the cause.  1 Corinthians 12 goes through this in great detail.  God established an entire system so that His message could be the most effectively lived out and communicated.  All throughout the New Testament we see the words ‘together’, and ‘fellowship’.  This is on purpose.  The disciples followed Jesus en masse.  After He was resurrected Jesus told the disciples to go and wait for Him together, not to just go back to their own homes and sit by themselves.  What happened when His spirit came upon them was the first church service: and it was amazing!  The entire book of Acts focuses on the growth of the church, and what an impact it made.

One person on their own can do some good, but when people common together with a common goal entire communities, even the world, is impacted.  When left to our own devices we always wind up losing a sense of reality, or urgency.  The entire New Testament stands on the back of the church.  The apostle Paul traveled and underwent extreme persecution and suffering to plant churches.  He knew that he was in a race against time.  If the churches weren’t built up, if people didn’t come together, than the amazing message of Jesus Christ would cease to be truly influential.

Going to church is a part of being a Christian.  It just is.  No, it won’t get you into Heaven.  But are you a Christian, or are you just someone wearing a bright shirt?

I walked away from my faith once.

I told God that everyone was always trying to tell me what to do.  That I only had control over what I believed in.  “I’m sorry,” I said.  I really did say that to Him.  And then I gave some speech about how I was going to exercise what little control I had and say ‘no’.

Of course I was young.

I would have had to be.

Anybody with experience and maturity knows that control and decision-making, the process of disbelief and unbelief, and even believing, look quite a bit different than the scenario I created.

My choice meant that I would not pray.  I would not read my Bible.

This wound up being very hard for me to do.

I found myself feeling very lonely.

I was, am, an introvert by nature.  In those days I feared and avoided people.  As a result, God was my best friend.  He was always there, and I was always talking to Him.

At that point I had been reading my Bible every morning and every evening for years.  Literally.  When I was twelve, I was filled with a sense of spirituality and promised God that I would read my Bible at the start of every day, and at the end of it, until death joined us in Heaven.  I was sitting in the hall at my aunt’s house.  I was a little awed at myself for the commitment I had made, and a little impressed too.  I think I had secretly been wanting to make a promise to God for a while, ever since I heard something, or maybe read something, about how serious and intense it is when we make a promise to God.  Heaven forbid you break a promise to your Creator.  I thought the whole idea was romantic and terrifying.  I was so intimidated and wanted to not be intimidated.  I wanted to be the saint that would make a promise.  And keep it.

I didn’t keep that promise.  In it’s entirety.  On the other hand, I spent the next 15 years in the Word, twice a day, just about every day.  To suddenly not be doing it, on purpose, actually hurt.

I think I was even fiending.

By day three I caved.

I had the emptiness of a few days without my God.

If I really was in control over what I believed, than I was choosing Him.

My spirit had been unable to detach from His.  I needed to speak to Him in the hallways of my school, in the dampness of my basement bedroom.  I had to begin each day with Words of encouragement and end each one with Words of solace.

I hated the choice I had made to walk away from Him.  The only person I was hurting was myself.

I haven’t looked back since.

Thank you, God, SO MUCH, for taking me back.

Before we explore further, I want to take a minute to reflect on a couple of very important verses. They are so important that they basically set the tone for the entire rest of history. It’s really true.

“And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil’”. Genesis 2:16-17

What do you see? What stands out to you? Usually the only thing people want to see about these couple of verses is that God says not to do something. Let’s mature that approach and try to see what is really being said.

Well, for starters, we see ‘LORD God’ again. The God Who is with you is the true God. God has just given man dominion over the earth, but the author wants us to remember that God is sovereign.

We read about the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. I wish there was something witty I could nickname these two because typing out and referring to both is more tiresome than you might suppose. There isn’t anything clever, though, and perhaps that would be offensive to a lot of people anyway; they might consider that it would ‘cheapen’ the story, and we couldn’t have that. While these trees were actual physical objects, growing up out of the earth and spreading their branches and casting shadows, like any good old tree will do, they are, most essentially, symbols.

Return to the romance of the Bible with me for a moment.

I have been learning a lot lately about how the Bible has been broken down to formulas and blacks and whites, when the one who actually wrote it wasn’t even that type of person. God didn’t use formulas for creating His amazing masterpiece of the world: I can’t even begin to list His ingenuities and intricacies. Jesus Christ didn’t speak or teach or live in blacks and whites. He told stories. He drew people out of themselves and into Himself. You could actually get really sappy thinking about how wonderfully romantic it all is.

The Bible is God’s way of speaking to us and through us, and I think we forget about that because we are reading the bullet points for our lives, making notes, and referencing the dos and don’ts so that we can think we are better than Adam and Eve.

I’m not supposed to read these two passages like this:
“And then, Rebecca, the Lord God commanded these people, under penalty of death (I say again, death!), to not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They could eat from the tree of life, and all of the other trees, but most certainly not the other. He would have commanded the same thing of you, if you had been Eve, and so what are the trees that you should not be eating of, Rebecca? I can think of a few. You eat them under penalty of death and you are bad at life.”
The story of Adam and Eve isn’t a subliminal message, it’s just a story. It is history, and we should be aware of history. For sure to offer us guidance and guidelines, too, but, for crying out loud, the whole entire Bible is about REDEMPTION and not about how Adam and Eve weren’t supposed to eat from one stinking tree but they ruined everything for all time because they were idiots and so then there had to be murder and 10 plagues and lots of famines and the Romans took over anything and lambs were getting their throats slit all over the place, dogs are eating their vomit, and everybody has to buy a plot of land years in advance so people don’t have to max out their credit cards on your behalf when you die.”

I LOVE, love love love, that the Bible is a book about knowing God and being known by Him and that it’s NOT a textbook. This idea lends perfectly to the concept of the trees being symbols.

Life is all about choices. Red shirt or blue shirt. Chocolate cake or a jog. Grand Canyon or Disneyland. God’s plan or my plan.

Let’s hone in on the very first words that God speaks in Chapter 2 verse 16, “You are free…”.

Enter free will.

Technically free will was ingrained in mankind when we were created, but this is where we are seeing it for the first time. Free will. What is it? The dictionary says that it is the ability to act at one’s own discretion. According to the Bible, we could say that free will is the ability to make choices that may or may not align with God’s will. We were created in His image, and in our innermost beings we understand what His will is, both by the helping power of the Holy Spirit, and by the guiding light of the scriptures. We must decide if we want to align ourselves to that, to reach for the outstretched hand of the Spirit or to ignore it, to shine the truth into our lives or cover it up. Perhaps most beautifully, I heard it said that we cannot make someone fall in love with us. No matter how much we may reach out to them, we cannot make them feel the same way in return. And what a glorious, amazing, wonderful thing it is when they actually come to love us in a genuine and real way.

I have always wished that I could give a better response to the dogged approach that humankind never asked to be created. I kind of just have to accept that nothing I can think of will appease someone who marches under this banner. I don’t really want to appease someone like that, anyway. These are the type of people that like to be disgruntled about something, even if they are trying to negate their own existence. I didn’t ask to be created either, and neither did my husband, and neither did my children, but I am so glad that we were. In these people my joy is complete, and in my heart I know that God feels that way about all of us, about humankind. I was reading a book the other day and the author was talking about this idea that his friend had, and idea that was actually pretty revolutionary in its simplicity. It goes like this: if God is really so powerful, so perfect, so amazing and majestic as He says He is, than the most loving and merciful thing He could possibly do would be to create a people that could also share in it.

Chew on that a minute, why don’t ya.

Please do not be mistaken. God did not put the tree of the knowledge of good and evil to be a temptation. Adam and Eve knew that they had free will. It isn’t about just the tree. The choice is always there. God isn’t a beating-around-the-bush kind of guy. He is direct, and He should be. Free will is a reality, and it needed to be addressed. He stood more chance of Adam and Eve wandering off and finding some other way to get into trouble than if He hadn’t said, “Life is made up of choices. I’ve designed it to be beautiful, please choose my way.” We don’t just cross our fingers and hope that our kids never hear about drugs. Not at all. We say, “Drugs are out there. People will try to make you do them. It might be fun to start with, but they can get you into a lot of trouble. They can ruin your life. Your life can be so easy if you just say no to drugs. I will do everything in my power to help you, but eventually the choice will be up to you, and I hope you are strong enough to make the best one.”

At least, I hope that’s what we’re saying.

We need to stop being mad at Adam and Eve.

They knew that Satan was out there. Seriously. Satan and his cronies weren’t some kind of huge secret. Adam and Eve knew about the angels, and therefore they also knew about some angels who lost their minds and were separated from God and Heaven and became the devil and the demons. They knew that being separated from God was the worst thing that could possibly happen. God told Adam and Eve to guard the garden. He didn’t say guard the garden and then walk off. He said guard the garden because He had a reason to. It’s not like God just wasn’t going to not create anything because Satan was out there. That would have given Satan all the power; that would have made him the beauty thief that he so desperately loves to be. Satan can’t stand anything beautiful. He used to be beautiful, and in trying to become more beautiful he became the most hideous. God knew that Satan would be after the garden, and He warned Adam and Eve. He actually warned them!
Someone, somewhere in time, would have committed the first sin. It would have been you. It would have been me. We have all given in at some point, even when we knew it wasn’t right. And not just a society’s-standards wasn’t right, but a deep, in-the-pit-of-our-gut wasn’t right. We see God knowing what is good over and over and over. God knows what is good. We can enjoy this good by trusting Him and obeying Him. This isn’t as bad as it sounds. It’s really not.

“You are free to eat from any tree in the garden.”

Obeying God doesn’t mean we can’t do something: it means we can do SO MUCH. Instead of focusing on one tree it’s not a good idea to eat from, let’s focus on the entire garden that we are free to take part in. An entire garden! Who cares about one tree when we have an entire garden?! But we do, don’t we? Somehow, we always seem to care about the one tree. I would like to challenge you to stop it. Just stop it. When you feel that rising up inside of you, that ‘what if’ and that ‘but but but’, just stop it. Just say, “Stop it.” Because the story isn’t over yet.

When we decide that God doesn’t know what is good we must decide what is good on our own, and that actually doesn’t work, because only God knows what is good. From the beginning He made only what is good. Not okay, not bad, not average, but good. It was all ALREADY good. And then came humankind, with free will. Would they say, “Yes, this is good. It is good for me.” Or would they say, “Wait, I want something else.” The creation of woman is the absolute pique of God’s goodness, and Him bestowing that on us. Same as God made man for Himself, He made woman for man. If Adam were alone there would be no one to share with. And sharing is a joy. That’s what this is about, people! Not taking! It’s about sharing!
God is eternal, and He was willing to share that with us. When man decides what is good for himself he sacrifices that longevity. In every sense of the word. Even though God said that if they were to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they would surely die, it didn’t mean that they would drop dead in an instant. It meant that they would move into their own autonomy, which would be outside of God’s original plan, which included eternity. Death, decay, destruction, those were the alternative. Man didn’t really know that, but they were willing to take the chance.

It seems that we are always willing to take the chance.

My favorite author said that God created Adam and Eve with minds that could be so easily deceived because they were innocent. In one second he is saying that the two fell for a trick, and also that they committed a betrayal against their Creator. I guess this is all true in its most basic form. But Adam and Eve weren’t gullible. Imagine this scene: I tell a 2 year old that I will give him a million dollars if he gives me his piece of candy. I actually don’t have a million dollars, I just want his piece of candy. He doesn’t know that. So he gives me the piece of candy, and I run away laughing and yell, “Suckaaaa!” while he starts to cry. This is NOT what happened with Adam and Eve. They weren’t simple and pathetic. They were given the ability to make their own choices, which meant that they were sharp, and mentally sound. They had been warned and well-equipped. They were strong, inside and out. They just made the wrong choice. They allowed themselves to be deceived. After all, they were created in God’s image, so they already had all knowledge.

We have to think back to the simple thing the author of Genesis doesn’t draw attention to: Satan wants to be God. This is his obsession. This very moment he wants to be God, and he actually thinks that he stands a fighting chance. Still! He wanted the key to the earth, so he made it sound like Adam and Eve would get something when they ate the fruit, even though he was really just stealing from them. Adam and Eve already had everything, so it boils down to the really heart-breaking truth that they allowed themselves to be conned.

This is basically the worst thing I can possibly imagine. I have grown up being separated from God. I know what it feels like, and I don’t like it, but I have never known anything else. I have heard people blind from birth say that they don’t mind being blind so much because they have never known anything else. Being blinded after seeing is something totally different. Adam and Eve must have been so completely terrified and horrified when the presence of God went from them. We went from God being in us and through us, like light beaming through a window, and then the curtains are drawn. Sin doesn’t mean we are all born serial killers, it means we are born in the dark, and we can’t function properly because we were designed to operate in the light. We can’t behave appropriately in the dark because we need the light to see, and to act how we were designed to act. Eating the fruit, betraying God, must have been the coldest, loneliest, scariest choice that ever was.

I am so thankful that God sent His Son for us. He didn’t want to give up on an eternity with us. He made us to share time with, and He wants us. We just have to choose if we want Him. I do, and I choose Him, and there is not a single day that I regret it. Of course I am constantly practicing my free will, but I am so grateful for the Son, who made it possible that I can still enjoy fellowship and spend eternity in Heaven with my Creator.

Why do we always act like God is crazy? We are made in His image. These feelings that you and I feel, longing, love, connection, friendship, joy… They are all His feelings. Let’s stop acting like God doesn’t know what it’s like to feel anything. The pain of Adam and Eve choosing the fruit is the pain of your spouse wanting a divorce, it is the pain of your child saying, “I hate you”, it is the pain of a friend choosing a different friend. In any age or stage of life, we can always know the heart of God because His heart is in us. Let’s stop acting like He is some grandiose, egotistical bullying manipulator. That’s the serpent. Anger, jealousy, shame…those feelings didn’t come until after that original sin. That is the ‘knowledge’ that Adam and Eve thought would be so cool. Those feelings exist because of the fallen angel, who actually was grandiose, who was the introduction of egotistical, who has bullied and manipulated all the days since his exile. Let’s start looking at how things really are. These aren’t just CGI-inflated, PG-13 rated, imaginative tales. They are real flesh-and-blood chronicles. When you take the time to open your mind, to break them down, you can really start to see that, and apply it to your own life.

If you are anything like me, you probably get embarrassed when you think about Adam and Eve being naked, but not just that, they weren’t embarrassed! They weren’t even trying to hide from each other. They weren’t trying to play it cool, posted up behind some bushes. They weren’t even exasperated, like, “Man, I’m still naked?” The disturbing part is that they could have been hanging out at Starbucks, totally and completely naked, and when they stood up you could have seen the chair marks where you normally can’t see anything, and they would have been acting like nothing was out of sorts. This is a really important bit of foreshadowing, because later, after sin had entered the world, Adam and Eve were suddenly ashamed to be naked. This wasn’t the Emperor’s New Clothes here, where they thought they were prancing around in a cute sundress and a comfy pair of shorts and breezy v-neck, only to realize to the screech of a baboon that they weren’t. It’s not like a naked dream, the kind where everything starts to fade in and realize you are sitting on a toilet in somebody’s living room and have to act like you actually aren’t. What happened was that these people realized they were naked under God’s judgement. They realized that their good wasn’t actually good at all. The fruit didn’t open their eyes to goodness and enjoyment after all. The coveted knowledge that was to make them like God actually caused them to see that they weren’t even like each other, and they didn’t like it.

They actually took off the glory of God, and this is what left them feeling so exposed. This is why it is right to wear clothes. It is a symbol of how we have taken off God’s glory, and how we can no longer be in our original state. Our bodies must be covered until that time we can trade in these jeans and band shirts for a robe of splendor and righteousness. Only a husband and wife are meant to know the entirety of eachothers bodies because the marriage relationship is a symbol of the relationships God has with us. This is why I get really annoyed when people want to take liberties with their bodies. They want to obey the rules of wearing clothes, but not really. They want to show as much as they can. Let me tell you what, there are a lot of natural things our bodies were designed to do, but because of how man took off the glory of God and traded it in for the knowledge of things like shame and insecurity we must remain covered and modest regardless of our personal beliefs about breast-feeding and bikinis, for starters. I, for one, am SO glad toilets aren’t just like garbage cans, set up where the most traffic goes by, with easy access.

Here is where where my favorite author got it so right. Adam and Eve got all of their security from God shining through them. He gave them their identity, and when He was around they were naked but not ashamed. As soon as they committed that betrayal the light inside of them died, and they became insecure. They had sold their identity. They didn’t know who they were anymore.

They wanted to hide.

It seems that no matter how hard we try, we can never hide from the truth.

They tried blaming each other. They tried blaming God.

I think people tend to imagine God getting very angry, and hurling apples at Adam and Eve. Heck, hurling fireballs We tend to feel sorry for Adam and Eve because we know what shame feels like, and that guilt causes us to imagine a scene of violence and horror. We think that Adam and Eve ran skittering for the gates, with God screaming after them like the Beast screaming after Belle when he finds her in the forbidden West wing: “Get out! Get out! Geeeeet ooooouuuuttt!”

I wonder what we would imagine if things hadn’t become so visual in our society.

Would we be able to see what is actually written?

Of course God knows what has happened, but He is kind enough to help these foolish humans through the process. Adam and Eve have hidden. Normally, they would be in communion with God. “Where are you?” God calls out. He knows where they are, of course, but He is drawing them out. He asks them what happened. The spectacular part is that He listens, and He already has a plan. Before He even says anything to Adam and Eve, God curses the serpent. He says that the offspring of the woman will crush his head, and from that day on the serpent, the devil, is against the woman. He is trying to kill every baby, trying to demolish that offspring before it can demolish him. However, we know what happens: Jesus came as a baby, and through His death He conquers death, and the serpent is defeated. After Jesus dies on the cross He literally descends into hell and takes back the key to the earth. But Adam and Eve don’t know that yet, and neither does the serpent. It is all just beginning for them. Again.

Everything has changed.

Childbearing was at the center of Adam’s and Eve’s blessings (“be fruitful and multiply”). After the fall, the betrayal, childbearing becomes the means of restoring the blessing- bringing about the offspring that will crush the serpent’s head. Each pang of childbirth is not only a reminder of their foolishness, and how it is always better to choose God’s way, it is also a reminder of the hope to come.

Marriage was the first gift, and it too has changed. Since man and woman are now used to making their own choices, for their own gain, this will be at odds with the sacrificial design of marriage. Man and woman will struggle with one another, each one trying to assert their place in the relationship, whereas before they didn’t have to worry about such dynamics.
Before the fall, Adam and Eve were “free to eat”. After they ate of the fruit, however, eating would no longer be free. They wanted their own way, which meant that God could no longer divinely provide for them. They had cursed themselves into providing for themselves all the days of their lives. And it would not be easy. The luscious earth that had blossomed under the hand of its Creator would have to be coaxed to fruition under the unskilled hand of the man.

It wasn’t that God took His staff and pointed it at the man and woman, laughing as they began to foam at the mouth. He didn’t grow bigger with heaving clouds boiling behind Him, green mist coming out of His mouth. He got down on their level. He made them clothes. Even in the folly of their own choices He was helping them get established. He said, “I’m going to make a way.”

And He did.

First things first, Adam and Eve had to get out of the garden.

God couldn’t take the chance of them eating from the tree of life. If they did they would live forever in their fallen state. God was not okay with that. He needed to provide another way; He needed to offer another choice. There is always a choice. Verse 23 of chapter 3 says that God ‘sent’ them out of the garden. In verse 24 it says that He ‘drove’ them out. Maybe they went peacefully. Maybe they grabbed onto a tree and refused to let go, and needed to be escorted off the premises. I wouldn’t want to leave Eden either, and all that it represented. Either way, it was for their own good. And to seal the deal, to protect the unreliable humans, the tree was guarded by a high-ranking angel, and a flaming sword to boot. It was mercy and love at work; tough love, maybe, but I won’t let my son drink poison just because it breaks my heart when he cries. One day he will understand that poison means death, but until then he is just going to have to take my word for it.

Let’s go back to the beginning, when God knew what was good. Let’s take His Word for it, too.

I makes sense to me why no one knows exactly where the Garden of Eden was, or is. It seems that a physical place on this physical land mass where human beings were in actual, physical communion with God, in perfection, would forever be unreachable. Of course there is speculation about the area, since the Bible tells us that it was in the ‘east’, and how a river flowed from it and then broke off into four other rivers. It would seem that we should be able to trace these rivers back to a point of origin, but Luther made the tremendous observation that the pathways of said rivers, and all other topography, would have been obliterated by Noah’s flood. As it stands now, only two of the rivers can be identified with any type of certainty. It is safe to say that the exact location of Eden will forever remain a mystery.

We, the readers, are introduced to this most secret of gardens in the second chapter of Genesis. Take a moment to remember that the first chapter of Genesis was given as a guideline to Creation, and the second chapter goes back and further expounds on it.

In verse 4 we see, for the first, the name ‘LORD God’.

“…the LORD God made the earth and the heavens. …Then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. …The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. … And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.”

Before this God was known as ‘Elohim’, the God, the Creator, the author of everything from before to forevermore. Suddenly there is this concept of LORD, which is YHWH in Hebrew, more familiarly known as Yahweh (the Hebrew language has no vowels), which means ‘the God Who is with You’. Together they stand for something along the lines of ‘the God Who is with you is the true God’. We don’t see this name designation before mankind was created, and that’s because there was no one to say it to. It might not seem like it because the phrase comes up eleven times in chapter two alone, but the title is used very rarely, and mostly in the Old Testament when it is. Each time it is used it always reflects a special relationship between God and man. Immediately after the creation of humans there is an exclusive and delicious covenant between mankind and their Maker, between us and ours, who is still the same, LORD God.

The covenant was in the actual name being used: He would be with us if we treated Him as the one true God. A really poor example would be, say, hanging out with Elvis Presley. For instance, there would be this agreement between me and Elvis that I would never try to play the guitar or sing because I’m just not any good at it. Nobody is as good as Elvis. So long as I stuck to what I was good at I could consider Graceland home. This included all of the amenities: those horses, the cars, really good times with people really good at what they do. There probably couldn’t have been a lot of stuff cooler than smoking a cigarette and playing pool with Elvis and his crew.  I know that I would even have pretended to love peanut butter and banana sandwiches.

That would all change, though, if I started acting like I was Elvis. If I showed up one day with this brand new guitar that I got at a department store, and had my hair all greased up, he would start to feel disappointed in me. Then I would be trying to answer his phone and open his mail and actually act like I was him, trying to sign record deals and show up on TV as him. Then Elvis would have to say, “I’m really sorry, but this is the end.” He would spend the rest of that night in a jam session with the Rat Pack, coming up with this amazing ballad about the end of a friendship, and it would really move people to tears. Nobody stands a chance against those velvet tones, the single note declarations, and certainly not the moves. Nobody would ever know the song was about me, but it would change the world.

Okay, so I got seriously carried away on that one, but you get my point, right? We treat God like He is God, and He will treat us like He is God. This is a win/win scenario every time. (For the record, I don’t think that Elvis is God, and he really proved that by the way he went out. Although I do think he was good at what he did, and good at how he looked, too.)

There is a lot in these early chapters of Genesis that is off-putting to people. I would encourage us all to take a step back and evaluate the source of our frustration. If we cannot take seriously, and even literally, these troublesome and conflicting passages than we are setting ourselves up for failure throughout the rest of the Bible. Even these chapters in Genesis are meant to be taken as they are, and it is our duty to dig deeper, to fill in the gaps, and find out how they apply to the rest of Scripture, and even to our present-day lives. After all, it IS just the beginning…

It’s a really big thing for people to say that the Bible contradicts itself in the second chapter of Genesis. People like to talk about all the ways the Bible is a load of crap, and I really like to learn how cohesive and timeless it actually is. I once heard an entire sermon preached on this assumption that Genesis chapter 2 doesn’t line up with the Creation account of Genesis chapter 1, and the point of the sermon was to say that the Bible contradicts itself, so don’t focus on the doctrine of the Bible, instead focus on the need to make people feel loved. I understand that the strongest point this pastor was trying to make was that Bible-beating doesn’t do any good, and I would agree with that. However, discrediting the Word of God discredits the need for the Word, which is the need for Christ, Who is love. Without a faith in the Bible we will not be able to love the way that we need to.

Not to mention, there is no actual contradiction.

Readers like to take the passages of the Bible at face value. This isn’t the way the Bible was meant to be read. You cannot read the Bible and absorb what it says just by reading it. You can’t read, “Who, what, when, where, why, and how.” It has gotten to be kind of a trendy thing to talk about ‘unpacking’ scripture, but that’s a pretty good way of putting it. There are stories inside of the words, and there is a point to each story, and the time it was written, by whom it was written, and to whom, all really plays a part.

When it says in Chapter 1 of Genesis that animals were created before man, and then man was created, and in Chapter 2 that God made the animals and then brought them to the man (who was presumably created first in order to have something brought to him) we have to go back to what we know about the Bible. First, chronology to the authors of the Bible is never really a priority, and that is typical for Eastern ancient literature. Second, English is a translation. Third, we need to put on our thinking caps when reading the Bible.

When verse 19 says that God formed the beasts of the earth and then brought them to man it is merely a reiteration. The actual tense of the verb ‘formed’ (some translations say ‘had formed’) is pluperfect, which is the past of the past. Of course that doesn’t really make any sense to any of us who aren’t in middle-school anymore, and we never really thought that the myriad of tenses were ever going to be that important. But when looking at historical translations these are seriously a big deal. We see pluperfect tenses all throughout these beginning chapters of the Bible, and it’s the same thing as adding ‘had’. Pluperfect is the same thing as past perfect in modern day English, which we’ve already established doesn’t make any sense to the majority of us. Basically: it refers to something that occurred earlier than the time being mentioned. God HAD formed the beasts of the earth, and THEN He brought them to man to be named.

It is also really popular to talk about how the Creation week could not have been a week at all. I read the comments of one man on the Answers in Genesis website I was telling you about and he was trying to make the point that there is no way Adam could have named all the animals in an actual 24 hour period (he hadn’t even learned how to talk!), forget about being created himself, and there is no way that his sleep and the creation of Eve could have been squeezed in there.

Seriously, guy?

I mean, this is all just grasping at straws.

If God is capable of creating than He is undoubtedly able to make it happen in as short of a time as He wants. If man was made in God’s likeness than he didn’t rise up from the dirt like the cavemen from the Geico commercials. He walked and talked with God, he was smart, and creative to boot. And it isn’t impossible at all for man to name the animals over the span of a few hours, especially since God was bringing them right to him: a dog is a dog is a dog, and a horse is a horse of course. We don’t have to assume that every breed was specified, especially since most of them have been developed over time.

One of my favorite authors is Donald Miller, who wrote Blue Like Jazz. I really, really love this man’s words. I read and reread his books and the margins of the pages are covered in arrows, stars, parentheses, brackets, underlinings, and an outpouring of my own reactions. For the most part I agree wholeheartedly with everything Don (can I call you Don?) says. He makes sense of things that are hard to make sense of. BUT, when it came to this topic about Adam naming the animals, I had to disagree. I can’t even deny that it felt good. Not because he is Donald Miller and wrote amazing books like Blue Like Jazz, and I am just me, but because what he surmised just didn’t fit right. I suppose if you look at what he says he could be doctrinally sound. He was making the point about how often we get so sidetracked in studying the Bible that we forget to read the Bible. True. When he read about Adam naming the animals, knowing that there was none other out there like him, Don wondered that it must have taken 100 years of Adam wandering around the earth, searching for the animals like an aging, pining naturalist, looking for one like him. His point was that when Eve was made, since he had missed her for so long, he could appreciate her like we will never know. But I think that’s just wrong. First of all, Adam had no needs. He was living with God! He may have recognized that there was no creature like himself, but he didn’t know what it was like to long for something. We know what it feels like to be separated from somebody, but Adam had no idea what that felt like. The Bible says that God brought the animals to Adam. There is no indication that it was work, or even effort, and I think that’s so cool. I think Adam was probably feeling pretty awesome, seeing all of these strange and wondrous creatures, getting to meet them and then name them. It was impossible for Adam to feel an emptiness, same as I won’t need anyone other than God when I get to Heaven. That may be hard to wrap our minds around, but I really believe that I will know my husband in Heaven, and he will know me, but the expectations of our relationship will be completely overcome by our reverence and worship for God. We will cease to be married because our purpose in Heaven will not be to nurture one another but to be in the Father’s presence. That’s really something serious. It’s terrifying, and exhilerating, and kind of makes me want to throw up, I get so overwhelmed. But I accept it’s not something I can fully understand because I’m not there yet. Also, God didn’t ‘forget’ to make Eve. The story in Genesis reflects a process that the reader can digest, since we will never know what Adam and Eve experienced (i.e. the perfection of living in Eden in communion with the LORD God). I do think that it wasn’t a mistake that Eve was created after Adam saw that there was no one else like him. I’m sure when he opened his eyes and saw her, recognizing her pieces and parts, he was thrilled. As a matter of fact, the very first words we hear out of Adam is poetry: “Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh.”

I love that Don was able to get so much out of a few simple sentences. He really goes on and on about it in his book, and it’s amazing. He was willing for the Bible to talk to him; he was willing to feel it. The Bible is so much better when we feel it.
Verse 15 of Genesis 2 tells us that man had been put in the garden of Eden “to work it and keep it”. Verse 8 already established that man had been put in the garden, so what is the emphasis on working it and keeping it? Although it seems simple enough, I wanted to say a little something about this because it is so special. Our English translation loses the uniqueness of what has happened with the word ‘put’. In verse 8 ‘put’ is a simple verb. God put man in the garden. However, in verse 15 we see the same ‘put’ that was used in reference to the rest and safety from God putting His people in a secure place, like the Promised Land (Deut. 12:10), and we see a sort of dedication as in Moses putting aside manna to be carried in the ark of the covenant, with which to remember God’s faithfulness (Ex. 16:33-34). We can establish that man was put in the garden to rest in the safety of God’s presence, where he can fellowship with his Creator. To ‘work it’ and to ‘keep it’ should actually be read as ‘to worship’ and ‘to obey’. This becomes clearer in the next verse, when we see the very first command…

Ah, the command.

Which means we have to start talking about the tree.

The tree, the tree, the tree.

And by ‘tree’ I should actually be saying ‘trees’, but we always seem to forget about the first one. The tree of life. Instead, we focus on the second one, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Let’s all take a moment to catch our breath. Let’s focus on not getting flustered and up in arms. Let’s reflect on the amazing week of Creation, and how we were created in God’s likeness. How He made us to be in communion with Him, and how no other living creatures are like mankind. That is very amazing.

Before the beginning there was God.

This is the first thing to believe, before any of it can be believed afterward. And everything that comes afterward is what makes it possible to believe the first thing.

And then came the beginning.

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

This beginning is not the beginning of time, but the beginning of a time period. Time has always existed because God has, and time would cease to exist if God ceased to exist. There was eternity, and then there was the beginning. Since the ancient Hebrew language is complex and elusive, it has been said that ‘the beginning’ refers to a separate period of time before everything else began, or it has been interpreted that it was the actual beginning and everything happened as it says in English. In a way, I like the thought of it being the time before time. It isn’t millions of years, because nothing is happening; it is a prelude to prove a point. It says that God created the heavens and the earth, but that He was not yet ready to do His work within them. The pause here seems to say that the heavens and the earth were created, but if He hadn’t done what He did next (made them inhabitable, and full of His creation), there would be no story.

“The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”

When we step outside of everything that this verse could mean, and actually explore what it does mean, we find a lot of purpose, and care, and symbolism. It wasn’t a time of chaos, of boiling particles and natural disaster. It was the earth, like it says it was, but it was formless and void, or empty. We know that the earth is not actually formless, and it certainly isn’t empty, and so we take what the phrase means in Hebrew, and we find that it merely means ‘uninhabitable’.

Intrigued? Because this is intriguing.

So there sat the earth, prepared in the beginning, and the Spirit of God was there.

The earth is God’s divine blessing. He took the time to prepare it for us, for humankind, and He safeguarded that gift by a call to obedience. There is a purpose to how it was pointed out that the earth was formless and void, uninhabitable. It all could have just started at the beginning of Creation week, but we can also take a moment to really appreciate what the author took time to enunciate: what came first. A beginning with an end in mind, and from the first verse of the Bible every other verse follows. They thread through one another and the beauty and complexity is breathtaking.

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” There is a Creator, and He is God, Elohim, not just ‘a god’, but the God, and to Him be the honor and glory and power, for being the Creator, and creating the earth for us, and creating us. From this phrase we also know that the last things will be like the first things (Isa. 65:17). The origin of the world was so deliberate.

God set up the universe. He had not yet made it good. The first chapter of the Bible repeatedly shows that God knows what is good for humankind, and that He will also provide it. It was part of the design, since the beginning.

In case you didn’t already know this, I cannot write another word without first clarifying that we, the readers, cannot read the Bible like a piece of modern, Western literature. It is an ancient manuscript, and the author of Genesis had a specific purpose for writing the way he did. The first chapter of Genesis establishes the respect that God, who created the universe, is the only God. He deserves our respect because He created even us. The first chapter is a set-up for the second chapter, and the second chapter goes in and expands on certain parts of the first chapter. There aren’t loopholes in Genesis, and there isn’t room for speculation. The words that were chosen were chosen for a reason, and we must read them as they were meant to be read.

“And God said, ‘Let there be light’, and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And He separated the light from the darkness. God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.”

At this point, a common question is asked: Did this mean that there was light before there was the sun? Since the Bible says that the sun, moon, and stars were not created until the 4th day. Some say that the correct interpretation of the word ‘heavens’ implies ‘sun, moon, and stars’. You don’t have the heavens without the heavenly bodies. However, those heavenly bodies were ‘formless and void’. They were not yet useful. God had to make them good. This seems like a very valid standpoint. My problem with that is we come upon creation day number four with God not actually creating anything. So since the Bible says that God created the heavens and the earth, and that on day four He created the heavenly bodies, the most solid stand is that God did indeed create light and darkness without the heavenly bodies. After all, He is God, and this would not be hard for Him, or even impossible. It could be that He did not want the sun to be revered too highly. It could be that He was introducing the fact that He is the light of the world, and when we get to Heaven the glory of His presence will be the only light that we will need to see by (Rev. 21-23).

God calls the light and darkness to their jobs, and He creates the day. He establishes that there is evening and morning, and He calls it the first day. Before He does anything else, He establishes a framework for time. It gives me some serious chills to think about how deliberate He was, and still is. God specifically chose to set up a system that the creatures of the earth would operate by.

Since He made the day before anything else we have no reason to believe that it was a different day than the ones we find ourselves waking up to and putting to bed. I have to admit that it really gets on my nerves when people start talking about days being longer at the beginning of the earth. It’s just really a terrible way to think, and it sounds plain old foolish. I know that I probably shouldn’t be so aggressive, but doesn’t it seem so much more difficult to believe that days were actually longer? I mean, why? It doesn’t make an ounce of sense. If the days were longer than the earth would not spin as it should, and the seasons would be totally weird, and life would not exist, and the entire Creation story would have never been written.

The author really wants us to know by the word he uses for ‘day’ that he is talking about a 24 hour period. And from the day stems the passing of days, the seasons, and the progress of life on this earth. It really is just that simple. Let’s not worry about agreeing to stupid fantasies just so that we can sound cool. It’s like when people try to be all philosophical and say stuff like, “But how do you know that this table really exists? And how do you know I am not something your brain is just making up?” At times like this I want to start using all of the ways I can think of to prove the soundness of the table, ways that would probably not be so completely appreciated, but that would certainly leave no room for doubt either.

Trendiness is kind of an enormous hang-up these days. I know a lot of Christians who are so blah with what they believe. They are living with their fiancees and afraid to talk about marijuana and they just shrug and think that it’s not a big deal to believe that dinosaurs existed millions of years before humans. “Let’s just go with the flow, kids. Let’s just not make Christians look anymore crazy than they already do. Look, kids, we are actually doing Christianity a favor by not drawing any more attention to it. I mean, sheesh, look at the way so-and-so over there is always getting harassed for not swearing and for reading their Bible in public. It’s so embarrassing. Let so-and-so be your example, kids.”

But I digress.

When God calls something good He does it not because it is ‘good’ by default, since He is God and He made it, but because it is beneficial to humanity. The first day was good.

Now, God can continue, because nothing else He intends to put on the earth would survive without the structure of the day. A simple 24-hour-period: the foundation of all of history. This is why it is all so beautiful. Don’t think for a minute that God is not deliberate. He is so deliberate, and it is to show that He is sovereign. He really is amazing.

On the second day He goes on to make the sky and the clouds.

On the third day He gathered the waters together so that dry land could appear, and called them ‘earth’ and ‘seas’. On the earth He called the vegetation to grow. This is different from when He said, “Let there be” and then there was. Here He is assigning the vegetation to grow up out of the earth, and He is assigning the earth to nourish the vegetation. It starts the way it was meant to perform. Nothing changed with the passing of time. It was meant to be a certain way, and it was made that certain way. And all of those trees and plants were given seeds of their own kind, and we see that even the plants were meant to produce their own kind. God called all of this good, and this was the third day.

On the fourth day the Hebrew text reads that God says, “Let the lights in the expanse of the sky be for separating the day and night”. In keeping with the theme that God has been standing in as the source of light, we see Him now giving that job to actual ‘bodies': the sun, moon, and the stars. We see that sun is given to rise and set, and the moon is meant to wax and wane, and with this process the seasons will be established. The vegetation cannot be fruitful without the process of the seasons, and neither can the animals which were still to come. The author then says, “And it was so.” So it was so. The next verses are purely commentary as they reiterate. Once again, God saw that this was good, because this would be beneficial.

On the fifth day God filled the waters up with the sea creatures, and He filled the skies with birds. He assigned them to each other, and He blessed them to be able to multiply and fill the earth with their beauty for all of time. He called all of this good, and it must have been such a glorious thing to watch the first living creatures roam His wonderful creation, and this was the fifth day.

On day six God created the animals. The author uses a different ancient word here than the one that was chosen to describe the creation of the vegetation. Vegetation was produced from the land, but the living creatures were made directly by God. Life of living beings originates from God, and is to be distinguished from the rest of the physical world. And they were good.

After the creepy crawlies and rolly pollies, God takes a different approach, and instead of saying, “Let there be”, He says, “Let us make.” Not only that, instead of being created “according to its own kind”, humans were made “in [God’s] image”. Not only were they like themselves, they were also like their Creator. What a bold move on the part of the Creator, to imbibe His characteristics upon a creation. Now that’s what I call sharing.

“And God blessed them…” (Gen. 1:28a). No sooner did God create humans than He blessed them. He simply couldn’t wait to do it. He tells them to be fruitful and multiply, and this wasn’t said as a command, but as a blessing. He goes on to give man ‘dominion’ over everything on the face of the earth, and to reproduce and populate the whole earth, and to enjoy every part and piece of His entire creation. Not only that, but He says that He has provided food for every kind of living being, in the plants that He took time to create earlier, and so nothing about existing and reproducing has to be hard. Having dominion over the earth isn’t supposed to be work, God has already taken care of it. Not only was all of this good, but it was very good, and the sixth day was over.

God rested on day 7 as an example to us. We were created in His likeness, and from then on what He does we also are supposed to replicate. Resting is a service given by God to be given back to Him, where we take a break from all of the reproducing and having dominion and enjoying all of the vegetation, to be still and remember what He has done. This is what keeps us in check, if you will. This is to keep us focused on how everything we have is a privilege given to us by a sovereign God. We need to remember that He has done everything. And He did it all for us. The day of rest, which is typically Sunday for Christians, is not meant to be a performance, an empty display, lip service…we are meant to treat this day as HOLY (Gen. 2:3). We are meant to reflect on how alike we are to God, and to recognize the goodness that surrounds us. If He is resting, how much more do we need to? Taking part in this rest is a willingness to be in His likeness, and it shows our faithfulness to Him. The rest that He took then, and subsequently gave to us, will also be given in the future to those that are faithful (Ps. 95:11, Heb. 3:11).

Thank God for that.

Is it really necessary to continue learning (or would it be called re-learning) the same lessons throughout life? It has been so frustrating to me, the thought that I must go up and down the same roads over and over again. What is the point of learning them if we must just learn them again?

Then, I think I figured out that we aren’t re-learning the lessons. That isn’t what happens at all. We learn them the first time, or whenever it is that we are actually able to learn them, sometimes it is many more times later. Then we pass through that season of life. What we learned ceases to apply, and so it probably goes to the back of our minds. It’s like studying for a test, or taking a class. We need what we need to learn, and then we forget it when the class is over. Class is done, it’s time to move on to the next one. We learn something different for the next class, and then we must forget that material in order to take the next class. So on and so forth until we have earned our degree, and we don’t really realize that everything we learned before actually helped us for the following classes. We took bits and pieces from each one to help us get to the ultimate goal.

That seems to be how it actually works. Right now, in my life, I am not actually re-learning a lesson. I am merely going through another time where something I learned previously has to come more to the forefront. I am struggling to remember how it goes, and I am feeling betrayed by life. I am even feeling that God isn’t on my side, and that He has forgotten about me. It was then, in the darkness of that lonely mindset, that I came to understand I was not being tried and tested. I was merely living. Life was happening to me. And a lot of life looks the same, over and over, just a bit different. I didn’t have to look inside of myself and dread digging up old skills, exercising muscles that I hadn’t used in a while. I was going to be tired, and sore, but I didn’t have to be bitter. When I realized that it was not being done ‘to’ me, that it was all just happening, I felt strength instead of weariness. I felt that I could do this [again] because I got through the first time, and there wasn’t actually going to be a finish line (that part will come later). It wasn’t actually about me at all. I just needed to hone those skills, tap into those resources, use them, and not take it personally. Perhaps someone else was learning a lesson, and I just so happened to be stuck in the crosshairs.

Maybe we do have to learn lessons over sometimes. But not all the time. Not every time. I probably will do better some times than others. But it helps tremendously to know that I am not being aimed at. It’s not like I’m the only one standing under the cloud. We are all under the sky, and sometimes it rains, and sometimes it is raining over here but not over there, and I am never the only person getting wet, with a little rain cloud following me around. Sometimes I might run through the rain, splashing, and sometimes I might use the proper equipment to stay dry, and sometimes I might pull over to let the storm pass. I think there is a song somewhere about singing in the rain, and I am not much of a singer, but I imagine singing in the rain would probably make someone a much better singer than they would be on a bright and clear day.

Whatever the case (as a dear friend of mine always says), if this is as hard as my life gets, I guess I’ll take it. Maybe not all the time. But at least today.

I love the Bible.

I really do.

Probably my favorite thing about the Bible is the way it depicts God.  It shows Him to be a warrior for His people, coming with a sword, and an army: He does not take injustice lightly.  He will vanquish His people: and I am one of them!  Can you believe what an amazing feeling that is, knowing that I will be vanquished?  It’s enough to let me surrender my battles, to give Him all those little feelings, and the huge ones too, where I think someone has treated me poorly, or something went terribly wrong.  He can decide.  He is the warrior.  He can vanquish me.

He is a roaring lion.  That simple phrase is so incredibly packed.  Lions generally live in prides, with one male being the dominant leader.  He conquers the uprisings, and maintains order.  He is known to circle the periphery of his pride, keeping an eye out for predators, always on the ready to protect, and He NEVER shirks his duty.  Everyone else works together knowing that He will keep everything as it should be, and they need only do their part.  The sound of His voice clears the countryside for miles.  The image of a roaring lion is truly breathtaking.

But what about when the Bible contradicts itself?

Because it does, right?  I mean, everyone knows that.

Aside from the incredible depiction of God as Sovereign, Mighty, and Creative, the Bible is my favorite book for it’s unwavering reliability.  Not surpsisingly, the Book about a perfect God, a sovereign Being, and an all-knowing Creator, contains no organic contradictions.  Any seeming mistakes are purely man-made, and assumed by man, which is not surprising since men are good at making mistakes, and they are good at pretending like they never do; they are even better at thinking that they should be God.  It has to be the Bible’s problem, right?

I don’t know how many times I have heard people say something about the Bible because that is just what everyone else says about the Bible.  There is no interest in getting an actual answer, it just seems right since it is a popular viewpoint, and when someone doesn’t really want to believe something they will say whatever it takes to make them feel good about the decision they have made.

The Bible doesn’t waste time trying to convince people.  “Believe in me because…”  It lays out the facts, it sings God’s praises, it gives the examples, and the rest is up to us.  It is up to us to pursue the evidence; it is up to us to take the plunge.  More often than not people want to be ‘sold’ on something.  They must be begged, cajoled, convinced.  They need the small print, and a lawyer.  They are afraid of being had, so they try to ‘have’ the would-be ‘haver’.  “I don’t want to look like a fool, so I will say that the Bible is foolish.”  But they won’t do the work themselves.  They need it to be done for them, because if God really wanted them to believe in Him so bad, He would come knock on their door, open His briefcase, and say, “I can offer you these plans for this price, and won’t that be nice?”  God isn’t a traveling salesman.  He is a warrior.  He isn’t on trial; He is a roaring lion.  He doesn’t need you to grade His work, and He doesn’t have security problems.

Many people who call themselves Christians have a hard time accepting the Word of God as complete and concise.  They assume that it is merely a rough draft, a loose kind of guide.  However, a belief in the Bible is the foundation of the entire Christian system.  One cannot claim to believe in God but discredit His very words of instruction and encouragement.  Not everyone believes all of the components about the Bible are true, and a lot people choose to read them and interpret as they will.  Understandably, this method leaves the unbelievers to assume that the material of the Bible is inaccurate and absurd.  Not even it’s own supporters will support it entirely.

People develop contradictions when they fail to read the Bible as it was meant to be read.  An ancient text of Middle-Eastern descent cannot be read as a modern, Western piece of literature.  Sequence was not a priority for the writers of the Bible.  That simply isn’t how authors wrote in that time and location.  Most of the Old Testament was written as a song, because it was sung.  It was written as poetry, not as matter-of-fact, and for some reason that really bothers people.  The Hebrew language is complex and intricate and, lo and behold, the Bible was originally written in Hebrew.  Many people/places/things have different words to describe them in the Hebrew language.

A lot of times, especially in the Old Testament, a verse will represent one situation (God created the earth, and He was pleased with it.), and not too many verses later an opposing idea is depicted (God repented of what He had created, and He was saddened by it).  When the history of the Bible is studied, it is easy to see that fifteen hundred years passed between these two passages.  During that time was what Christians refer to as the fall of man.  God could no longer remain satisfied with His work after that, unless a similar change had taken place in Himself.  He would have had to become okay with imperfection.  And God doesn’t change.

The books of the Bible were written by different authors.   That fact that they say things differently is actually a credit to the Bible.  If everything was too clean it would look like a hoax.  When people get on the witness stand and tell the exact same story, the same way, it is a red flag that they have conspired and concocted.  The Bible is full of the words of God and of good men, as well as the words of Satan and of wicked men.  The phrase, “You shall surely die”, were words spoken by God, where “You shall not die” were words spoken by Satan.  They are contradictory statements, but they are spoken by opposite individuals.  It is important to ask: Who is speaking?  Are they recorded as inspired language, or are they matters of history?  Does the writer endorse, or simply narrate, what has been written?

Each ancient writer chose to arrange their work in their own way.  Some of them were historians, so they elaborated extensively.  A different author could choose to omit or expand to suit his purpose and personality.  They haven’t ‘left anything out’, they merely chose not to use certain information.  If we have to study everything else to learn it, why don’t we also study the Bible?  It is rich with history, and when we start learning the history, the Bible begins to come alive.  Does anyone remember the uncomfortable story of when Jesus sent a legion of demons into a herd of pigs, who then threw themselves off of a cliff?  What an odd and unsavory bit.  How awkward and obnoxious it seems.  If you were to research the location and time period of the story, you would find that the people who lived in that town were pagan, and practiced pig worship.  It is appropriate then to see the demons wanting to go into the pigs, and even more appropriate that the pigs would be destroyed, as Jesus would not spare the demons from torturing a human being only to allow them to be worshiped.  I love learning these things!

It goes without saying that the passing of time was employed differently during the times of the Bible.  If two ancient writers seem to be in disagreement about the time period of a certain event it becomes our responsibility to investigate whether or not they are using the same chronological method.  We don’t get to assume somebody got it wrong somewhere.  Fahrenheit may read 212, and Centigrade reads 100, but we know that they are both saying the same thing.  The Jewish people referred to a year in it’s entirety.  For example,a child born in the last week of an ending year was considered a year old as soon as the new year began, even though only a few days had passed.  (This method is still practiced in certain areas of the East).  The last hour of the day would be seen as the whole day which is why, even though Jesus died on a Friday evening and rose again on a Sunday morning, it is referred to as Him being three days in the tomb (since Friday is considered an entire day, as are Saturday and Sunday).  No discrepancy, only a different method of computation.

I already mentioned that the Hebrew language is difficult and extensive.  Thus, in ancient Arabic, there are 100o different words for the word ‘sword’, 500 for ‘lion’, 200 for ‘serpent’, and so on.  The Hebrew language has at least 50 words to describe a body of water, 12 for ‘darkness’, 23 for ‘wealth’…  Many people had different names (Jacob was also Israel), and a lot of times someone’s name changed after a certain event, and this custom still takes place sometimes in certain cultures.  So when people begin to get excited about how the Bible says that the animals were created before man, but then it says that the animals were created after man, it would be crucial to evaluate the method of how that book was written, and then evaluate the original Hebrew words.  You would find that the contradictory phrase would be verified after the correct explanation of a word.

John Wesley developed a fabulous system for determining if something is ‘of God’.  It consists of four different sources, to be evaulated in order: Scripture, tradition, reason, experience.  It is a fascinating and reliable method.  First and foremost someone must study the Scriptures, and see what they have to say about it.  I once heard a minister preaching on John Wesley’s method, and then use the controversial Creation passage to say that Scripture didn’t say the same thing, so the important thing is not when or how something happened, but that it isn’t important!  Treating people well is what is important.  I agree, treating people well is crucial.  But she approached the Bible as a Western piece of literature, and was able to therefore convince her congregation that since the Scriptures are unstable we shouldn’t be focusing on them, but on how we make other people feel.  This was a sad situation that could have been avoided if she had done what she had been called to do: evaluate the Scriptures.  Instead of defending the handbook of our belief system, she encouraged it to be tossed aside.

There is no denying that the Biblical manuscripts sustained some discrepancies, but these were very much man-made.  Men make mistakes, even scribes.  One ancient figure meaning one thing can look almost identical to a different figure that means something else.   It would have taken an absolute miracle for no copy errors to be made.

Dogmatic prejudice seems to be the largest contributor to the Bible being accused as inaccurate.  Men go on about how the Bible needs to be treated like any other book, but then they treat it as they wouldn’t dare treat another book.  In all fairness, the criticisms are more inconsistent than what they claim to be criticizing.  I think people tend to be hostile towards something they don’t want to believe in, and we will always find a way to disprove something if we want to.

The Bible has awakened intellect inside of us like no other book, and I think that is why God chose, and allowed, to have the Bible recorded in such a way that would encourage us to really learn it.  Jesus Himself spoke in such a way that would test the character and motives of men.  He said, “Unless you eat my flesh, and drink my blood,” because it would be repugnant to someone that was insincere.  Many of His followers chose not to follow Him anymore after He said this, but this was to the benefit of the ministry, since they were choosing not to seek out the meaning of the words.  They were proud and superficial, and could not well serve the Lord.

I have often been skeptical of certain passages in the Bible.  I could go on and on about which ones, and where they are.  Each time that I dug into the troublesome passage and studied it, I grew even more passionate about my beliefs, and fell even more in love with the delicacy and richness it presented me.  I only needed to care about it as much as it claimed to care about me.

The antique Bible has been preserved in such a fashion that far out-weighs any other ancient manuscript.  And that’s saying something.

The Bible is a powerful tool.  Yes, it has been abused, and that is truly heart-breaking.  But when people have chosen to truly follow it and it’s principles we see, all across history, even to this day, revivals, servanthood, miracles, people going to the ends of the earth, feeding of the poor, educating the unreachable, ministering to the dead and dying, fresh water, clean food, life skills, healthy habits…  Compare a society that believes to one that does not.  The result will be staggering.  True following of the Bible cleans the spirit, strengthens the heart, and blesses the person.


Life is hard, BUT God is good.

This might be the biggest BUT of all, because life IS hard.  Sometimes we just stop there: Life is hard.  Period.  We need to stop putting periods up.  And, goodness gracious, we really need to stop putting up those exclamation points.  Life is hard for everyone.  We all have hardships.  Sometimes they don’t even begin to compare to the hardships of another, and that’s just the honest and un-beautiful truth.  There are people whose skin is literally peeling off of their bodies because they don’t have enough food, and I still think my life can be hard.  We all lose people, forever, or sometimes for just a little while.  We all lose money, property, the feeling of self-worth…  We all second-guess and double-check.  The instability and uncertainty is hard.

That is a basic fact of life.  It is uncertain.  It just is.  No matter how secure we may feel, no matter what we may possess, or the people we may know, deep down inside we all must admit that we don’t know what tomorrow will bring.  This can be a truly hopeful thing to stand on, or it can seem like a dreadful curse.  People do some crazy things because they don’t know what tomorrow will bring.  It doesn’t matter how much life experience we pack into today.  It doesn’t matter how free we seem to think we are.  Tomorrow is a different day.  This can instigate people to live selfish lives, or it can encourage them to be selfless.

This is the part that I like: BUT God is good.

Life is hard, because every day changes, because every moment is a secret, BUT God is good.  That part doesn’t change.  There is ultimate security, stability, and certainty in that statement.  I suppose you have to want to believe it for it to be true.  If you don’t want to believe something, it just won’t resonate for you, no matter how obvious it may seem to someone else.  If you don’t want God to be good, you can make Him look however you want Him to look, and He really will look that way to you.  I have definitely known some hardships in my life, for sure they don’t involve malnutrition, and I still know that God is good.

When we say that life is hard, do you know what God says?  “It’s hard for you, BUT it’s not hard for me.”

Oh my goodness.

That phrase took the breath right out of me.  And it just did it again.  I am a small person in a sea of people.  Life swirls around me, catching on other people’s lives, pushing other people’s lives, being pushed by others too.  I am so weak, and so tired.  Sometimes I am just downright pathetic.  That is the blessed time where I have somewhere to go with my pain and frustration and hurt.  I have somewhere to go and drop off my baggage.  Everyone else can choose to do the same: go to God with that bag full of “This is hard, and this, and this…” and drop it off.  Or continue to schlep it around for the rest of your life, and probably beyond.

God is so ridiculously personable.  Our egotistical minds is what makes Him look otherwise.  He reaches out to us every moment of every day.  When I finally decided to try and see what that looked like I saw beauty, and love, and freshness: in my friendships, in nature, in my home.  It didn’t matter if my home burned down tomorrow.  For sure it would hurt.  For sure it would be HARD.  But this home was given to me, and so will the next one.  No worries.  For real.

I heard a tremendous story about a man.  He lost his wife.  He was overcome with pain.  I can’t begin to fathom what the feeling of losing my spouse would be like.  I have lost people, and I have been afraid of losing people.  None of that compares to what I feel when I think of losing my husband.  It could totally happen.  The more time I spend with him, the more irreplaceable he becomes.  How could anyone spend ten, twenty, thirty years with their spouse, lose them, and move on?  This man did.  He lost his wife, and his life looked like ashes.  This is what he said, clinging to a friend, tears soaking his shirt, “I lost my wife, BUT I will not lose my God.”

If the previous phrase took my breath away, that last one just about knocked me over.

What a glorious, glorious prospect.  We can lose anything, anyone, and at anytime.  BUT we don’t have to lose our God.  Life is hard for us, BUT it’s not hard for Him.  Life is hard, BUT God is good: because we can’t lose Him, because it isn’t hard for Him.

That man could have never dreamed that two years later he would be head over heels in love.  He would be a newly wed again and, get this, a stepfather to TEN children!  That same friend who had held him while he was sobbing after the death of his first wife, saw him sitting on the sofa, completely covered by beautiful step-daughters.  Yes, he lost one woman, and he gained many more.  This man knew that life was hard.  BUT he also knew that God is good.  He experienced the hardship; he experienced the goodness.

You can fill in that blank.  “I lost my ____.”  But don’t put the period there.  Choose something better.  “I lost my ______, BUT I will not lose my God.”

God is good.  Notice Him today.  Thank Him today.  ‘Til the end of your days, and the beginning of the next ones, you won’t regret it.  I know that I haven’t, and this hard life of mine has barely gotten going.




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