Genesis 3:1-15 was a poignant reading for me this past Sunday and as I was preparing for the sermon last week I was flooded with a lot of thoughts and emotion. I am a runner. Now, this is not in the literal sense of running for sport (personally, never have been a big fan of that), but what I am talking about is that I don’t like to face issues. Who does? As I reflected a story of my youth came to mind. When I was about 10 or so, and my paternal grandmother was watching my cousin and me, being two years apart in age, we were playing. Now my grandmother had this room full of porcelain dolls she collected and loved. Well, I accidentally broke one of them. Now instead of facing my grandma, I decided I was going run, so I walked out the door and left. I don’t know where I was planning on going since we were out of town and it was a long walk to anywhere. All I knew is that I didn’t want to face punishment for the doll.
I remember walking across the road and behind the houses on the other side where there were some trees. It was hot, and I was some distance away from my paternal grandparents home, and the highway and I saw my grandma’s vehicle coming down the road, so I hid. I knew my cousin had told on me and I didn’t want to get caught. As I watched her pass and then go back to the house, I began to think about the situation. Where was I going to run? Wherever I went, I knew I would still be in trouble and would face some punishment. It, also, was hot and I was thirsty. So, I decided to turn back and went back to my grandparents and found my grandma on the phone with my dad. I heard the concern on her voice and then the relief when I came back in. Expecting punishment I apologized and instead of punishment I received a hug and an “I love you.” You see, my greater concern was my grandmother’s love for her dolls over and above her love for me.
This is the issue that many of us face when it comes to God. After eating of the forbidden fruit, the relationship between Adam and Eve and God was changed. Not by anything God had done, but because they were more afraid of God, then they were of Satan. We are the same. We become angry at God when we feel the conviction of our shortcomings, our sin. The words of Satan resonate in our ears, and we believe them over and above God. We are made to feel shame. Adam and Eve, before eating the fruit, would stand in God’s presence without fear or shame. It was unknown to them. They found to be in God’s presence to joyful. After at the sound of a rustling leaf they become afraid and realize they are exposed desiring to cover up and hide from God. That is a difficult reality. Then when confronted by God’s searching words and voice we find that Adam and Eve try to cover and excuse their sin, ultimately pinning the blame on God.
Just like that little boy that I was with my grandma, uncertain and ashamed about what I had done, I didn’t realize that the love my grandma had for me was greater than the love that she had for the doll, God’s love for us is greater than any sin that we may commit. God isn’t looking to bring punishment, but forgiveness. He wants us to not run, but to admit to our sin, our failings, and realize the forgiveness that he has for us. If we are caught up in a relationship that is outside of the bonds of biblical marriage, we are caught up in fornication which is a sin. Divorce is a sin. Gossip is a sin. Holding a grudge is a sin. Being angry is a sin. Hating another is a sin. Feeling you are better then another is a sin. None of us can walk away unscathed if we are truly confronted with sin and if I were to say that it’s OK, Jesus loves you without giving the Gospel, I am not giving you the truth. God forgives you and will take away all sin because he loves you. We aren’t doing this on our own, and there is no justification for our sin, just forgiveness of our sins through Christ and Christ alone. We come to that cross, and we die to be resurrected just as Jesus died and was resurrected. Our sin dies with Christ. If we justify our sin, we are just running from God. God desires for us to run into his full embrace realizing we have nothing to offer, but a broken and contrite heart. He loves us so much that he will not turn us away in our brokenness. If we try to hold back and act as though we are justified because we say, “Well God, that was how you made me!” We are missing the fullness of what God offers us and are like Adam and Eve in the garden, placing the blame on our Creator instead of the deceiver who brought the temptation that led to the Fall. God did not make us sinful only with the ability to choose sin and run from him. Our free will is not free because the only “free” choice we have is sin. When we turn to him and seek his embrace, we find that he chose us long ago and desires for our restoration. A restoration that only he can bring. As I reflect on this, I see how often I have run, but I am thankful that I turned and ran into his warm embrace and am comforted in his everlasting arms. That is the only hope that I have and the only hope that remains for all of creation. May you know the love of being held in those everlasting arms, may the thirst for something more drive you to him, and may you be refreshed in his eternal waters. Peace to you this day.