Thursday, July 12, 2012

Adam, Eve, You and Me


After completing AMillion Miles in a Thousand Steps by Donald Miller, I was curious what wisdom Miller’s other books could hold.  The first of his books I came across was Searching For God Knows What – and I wanted to read it instantly.  Something about the title tugged at me.  I finally bought the book a couple months ago on thriftbooks.com and started reading it immediately.  I say finally because I’ve had close to a year since discovering this book to actually get it in my possession, and I’m just.now.reading.it.  Finally.  It’s just how I roll.

The first few chapters opened up a door in my mind, a door I didn’t even know existed, and expanded the way I understand and interpret the Bible.  Like, I don’t even know where to begin.  I’m pretty sure you’d have to read the chapters I’m speaking of to get the “full” effect and understanding about what I am saying, but I must attempt to share anyways.  Something like this, you can’t just keep to yourself.

In the chapters I'm referencing, Miller writes about Adam and Eve and their relationship with God and one another.  I am familiar with this story, as having learned it at a very early age in Sunday school.  Adam was created first, God had him do some tasks, then Eve was created from Adam.  They walked around naked not knowing they were naked.  Then, they sinned by eating the devil’s apple and suddenly realized they were naked.  Like I said, I’m familiar.

Now, I’m not trying to make light of the Bible or my teachings in Sunday school.  I just want to get across how simplistic and immature my view is (cough, or was) of the story of Adam and Eve.  I never really looked into it any further.  And to be honest, I haven’t really looked into any of the other stories either.  The man with lepracy, the blind man (or was it a woman), these stories explain how Jesus loved and healed His people.  The parts of the Bible I like and understand, or at least think I understand, are Psalms and Proverbs -- the parts that tell me flat out I am loved and worthy -- the cheesecake of the Bible, if you will.  The way Miller writes about and explains the story of Adam and Eve in Genesis is mind-blowing meat and potatos, which makes sense why I never understood it in the way I do now because I've always chosen vegetables and dessert over meat (and no, potatos are not a vegetable; they are a starch).  I am not going to include quotes from Miller's book and interpret Miller's interpretations of Adam and Eve and The Fall - I tried that already and this post has been sitting in my draft folder for far too long.  Besides, I would not be doing Miller justice by trying to explain his own words.  I just want to share this new, fresh, mysterious understanding of God and me and you in my own words.

My counselor has said it often, very often, that God created us for community, to be in relationships with other people.  The first few times she told me this I thought she was just trying to get me out of my apartment.  But then I read it in Purpose-Driven Life and came across this concept again in Cultivating Contentment and came across it over and over while reading Nouwen's Inner Voice of Love.  I realized that this idea of community, this need to be and feel a part of other humans, is given to us by God.  But it wasn't until after reading 
Searching For God Knows What that I understood why.

God created Adam and Adam was alone.  He was in a gorgeous, unimaginable glorious place and all he had was God.  God gave him these huge tasks to do and Adam spent who knows how long and worked who knows how hard to fulfill God's wishes.  Once the tasks were completed, God gave him Eve so that Adam may share in His glory with another being who is like himself.  Adam had worked so hard and God gave him yet another gift so that two together may enjoy God's love and praise.  It was God, Adam and Eve truly loving this world God created and truly loving each other.  

There are not enough adjectives to describe the way Adam and Eve gave and received love from God -- pure, unconditional, infinite, exhilarating.  Adam and Eve knew only love.  They did not know jealousy or pain or shame.  Their nakedness on the outside was a tangible representation of their nakedness on the inside, and they didn't know they were naked and exposed to the world.  Moses said this several times in Genesis -- Adam and Eve were naked and unaware.  All they knew was God and His love and the glory God gave them -- the praise and adoration from which only true, unconditional love for and of the Creator can manifest.  

Then Adam and Eve were deceived.  They ate from the tree and at that instant, at that first bite, they knew, the knew immediately, that their relationship with God was broken.  It is important that I include the following quote from Miller, because it was after reading these exact words that I just sat, completely still with wonder, seeing my own nakedness in a new way, understanding my brokenness and the pervasiveness of the daily realization of all my wounds.
And this feeling, this feeling must have been so much more painful for Adam and Eve, this feeling of having an infinite amount love pouring through their lives and then it's suddenly gone.  I wondered at how terrible it must have felt, at the fear of no longer feeling God, at the ache of emptiness and the sudden and horrifying awareness of self.  God have mercy (pg 73).
How many times have I experienced the horrifying awareness of my self?  Awareness of how much and how often I fall short of so many things - friend, girlfriend, sister, daughter, coworker.  The difference between Adam and Eve is that they knew no pain before they sinned.  They were like children - so innocent.  I experience this awareness every day, pain amongst pain amongst pain.  It makes me wonder what kind of pain hurts more.  But it doesn't really matter.  Adam and Eve became you and I and joined us in the human suffering that only God knows why we must experience.  Community has baffled me.  I have been afraid and pushed it away and kept to myself.  And now, as I sit typing and can feel God's irony and humor shining through this moment, one of my first and most powerful experiences of community came from Adam and Eve - Adam and Eve!  How old are they?!  

If words on a page about the first humans to ever walk the earth has had such an effect on me, think what the ladies sitting next to me at church could do.  Think what the associate pastor who set a time and day each week for us to meet for lunch, a time and day I have yet committed to for fear of such community -- just think, what amazing things God has planned for me.

God have mercy, indeed.

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