Saturday, January 3, 2009

Murder, I wrote...

I have this vague memory from my childhood that involves powdered sugar donuts, my sister, and my grandmother. I'm not certain that my facts are totally accurate, but I believe the events of that day unfolded like this.

Grandma Kiker was generous with her goodies, but for some reason, the powdered sugar donuts weren't to be eaten. Despite that awareness, Lisa climbed up onto the counter and proceeded to take a bite out of each one. Her face bearing snowy white evidence of her crime, I recall being told that she completely denied her wrongdoing. My best guess is that she was barely four years old at the time, and as the oldest of three girls, I remember always wanting to protect my sisters from punishment.

The time that Rosa, our babysitter, ordered me to get a switch so that she could swat Kathie (and I'm confident she deserved it :) I told her I'd get it, but I wouldn't allow her to whip her. I suppose these and other adventures in sisterhood make today's passage of scripture particularly difficult for me because I cannot imagine physically harming either of my siblings beyond our own version of a WWE Smackdown or two that we may have engaged in as kids.

Genesis 4 through 7 includes accounts of sibling murder, treachery, polygamy (God didn't ordain any marital arrangement other than one man for one woman, but the perversion of his plan started right here in Genesis when rebellious Lamech married two women) and deceit. Wow. How's that for some spicy reading?

Adam and Eve apparently had no difficulty following the command to be fruitful and had given birth to sons, Cain and Abel. Cain, their firstborn, seems to have decided that he wanted to rewrite the rules that God had given and chose to present a sacrifice that wasn't pleasing to The Lord, while Abel's sacrifice was accepted.

Rather than receiving God's discipline and appreciating the opportunity for a do-over, he became furious at the one who did it right (his own brother) and killed him. Then, when confronted by God, Cain lied more shamelessly than a four-year-old with a powdered sugar covered face. Unrepentant Cain left the Lord's presence and went out to live in the land of Nod where he continued his evil ways and bore offspring who did the same.

There is so much I'd like to write about these chapters, but I'll try to summarize by saying just a few things.

Rebellion and rejection of God's mercy always leads us to Nod. It's a place where weeds grow, but flowers won't. A place where even the brightest day is dark and the warmest day is cold--and it's the place that every person who is separated from The Lord resides.

In Nod, there is wickedness and recklessness, hopelessness and sickness, spiritual poverty and despair. But ever present throughout the tapestry of scripture, our loving Father offers the invitation for us to come back into garden-like fellowship with him so that we can enjoy his peace despite of our surroundings. I am really trying to resist the temptation here to say, "just get your bod out of Nod"--but I can't. I'm reminded that John 10:10 says that Christ gives us abundant life--Nod's opposite--and that is his beautiful desire for every living soul.

As long as we're breathing the air of this earth's atmosphere, we will know, see and sense that Nod is all around us. The evidence of Squalor Hollow is broadcast each night on the news. But such a place was never his plan for us. My sweet granddaughters (and grandsons if you are to be) please know this--life here is only a dress rehearsal for what is to come--an existence that offers all of the perfection and splendor that the Garden originally held for our dad Adam and mama Eve before they messed things up. We can taste a smidgen of its freedom's sweetness this side of heaven when we've given our heart's in surrender to Christ's Lordship--but oh the powdered-sugary glory that will be revealed one day when we no longer live east of Eden.

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