The other day I caught a mini-micro glimpse into what God must have felt when He saw Eve reach for that apple.
I was entertaining my nine-month-old grandson Jayden while his folks were busy outside. This is the awesome part of grandmotherhood – you get to stay inside on hot, muggy days and entertain the grandkids while everyone else has to work outside. Not a bad gig.
We were sitting on the living room floor – and if you’re a grandparent (or a parent of young children, for that matter) you will immediately picture a floor covered with primary-colored toys that play inane songs if you so much as look at them, stuffed animals, balls of every shape and texture, bouncers, baby chairs, and a pack-n-play whose sole purpose is to hold all the above-mentioned paraphernalia once baby has left the building – and Jay was playing with a piece of thread he had found on the carpet. It was more interesting than the myriad toys, balls, animals, etc. Of course.
Then he noticed the lamp cord running from the lamp under the recliner and made a beeline toward it.
Now, this has happened before. Anything that looks like a string or cord or rope is fascinating. When he sees the lamp cord and heads for it, I just pick him up and turn him around, and something else catches his eye.
Except this time, he turned back around and headed for the cord again.
And again. And again. And again.
Well, I thought, excellent time to start teaching the boy what the word “no” means.
“No, Jay,” I said, turning him around and handing him something else to play with.
Back to the cord.
“Jay, no no. Here, play with this.”
Back to the cord.
“Jayden, no. You can’t play with that. It’ll hurt you. Here, play with this.”
Jay growled at me. Yes, he growled. He scrunched up his little face (his daddy used to do the same exact thing) and went, “Errrrrrrrrrrrr!”
I laughed. It was cute. “No, Jay. That’s one thing you can’t have. Look, there’s a whole room full of toys here. Let’s play with THIS!” I said, pulling over one of his favorites and pushing the button that starts the incessant singing of merrily-we-do-something-or-other.
Jay then tried to climb over me to get to the lamp cord. When I turned him around again, he yelled. Now, this is a child who seriously never cries except when he’s hungry or tired. (In this way, he does not take after his dad, who was much more … vocal … as a baby. Just saying.) But he yelled, and then he growled, and then he started to cry.
He had decided that, despite the fact the room was chock full of wonders and delights, the only thing he wanted was the one thing I would not let him have. And when I prevented him from getting to it, he started into full fit-throwing mode.
Yep. We are definitely leaving Eden.
And it made me a little sad, even though I knew it was coming, and it wasn’t really a surprise. But I wasn’t quite ready for that sweet time of innocence to end. That time of trust. That time where his curiosity could be channeled easily to the things that were good for him, and things that weren’t could be kept away. That time where he depended on us for everything and defiance hadn’t awoken yet.
How much more must it have broken God’s heart when Eve reached for that apple? Even though He knew it was coming, even though of course it was not a surprise to Him? Here was this perfect place to live, this garden chock full of wonders and delights, and defiance crept in, and all she wanted was that one thing He said no to.
And since that time, with every single human being He has created, He has gone through this same thing. That’s pretty sobering. I mean, seriously, after the first few I would have just thrown in the towel. At the very least, after I’d saved Noah and his family, and then the defiance started all over again, I would have just pointed my finger at the earth and let ‘er rip.
Lest you think I am preaching down my nose at a world full of unbelievers, I’m talking about myself. I’m talking about people like me, people who have put their faith in Jesus Christ and have been redeemed.
We’re the ones who hurt the Lord’s heart when we insist on reaching for that lamp cord even though He has told us no. Even though He has told us it’s not good for us. We’re the ones who understand the truth of God’s word and have the Holy Spirit in us, guiding and directing us.
Is God indifferent to the sin of the unbeliever? Of course not. God hates all sin (and loves all sinners). But if you’re watching the news and you hear that a local man has been arrested for bilking poor little old ladies out of their life’s savings, it’s going to make you sad. If you find out it was your child who did the bilking, it’s going to break your heart.
When I – I who have accepted God’s gift of salvation, I who recognize and believe that Jesus Christ willingly took my sin on Himself when He was brutally nailed to that cross, I who have been adopted as a daughter of the King Himself and am eternally His child – when I choose to reach for that lamp cord, in whatever form it may take, then it’s not just the sin itself that hurts God. It’s that His very own child has once again defied Him.
Jayden doesn’t know that electrical cords can hurt him. He’s too young to grasp the concept that I tell him no in order to protect him, not to withhold good things from him. He doesn’t have a developed-enough mind to reason these things out. That’s all part of the learning process.
But I, as an adult and a Christian, understand fully that God’s word is the lamp unto my feet. I understand that the things He tells me I should not do are for my protection, not because He wants to withhold good things from me. I understand that sin is bad for me.
And yet … I gossip. Sometimes I lie (shocking? Come on, you know you do too). Sometimes I am mean. Sometimes – more often than I want to admit – I think really ugly thoughts. I have been known to cuss. Do these seem like “little” sins? Do you really think I’m going to list all my big ones here for the world to see?
Every time I sin, God must feel like He’s watching Adam and Eve leave Eden all over again. How sad is that?
Shouldn’t that be enough to make me quit reaching for that lamp cord?