The sun is dipping behind the trees, and the house is unusually quiet tonight. The little ones are off enjoying an ice-cream date night with their precious adopted grandparents, Teev and Bibby (which is Jackanese for Steve and Libby).
So I wanted to take a minute and share with you something that hit me while I was reading for our Small Group Bible Study tomorrow night. If you're like me, you've read, or at least heard, the stories of Creation and the Fall of Man in Genesis no less than 450 times. So when I saw that we were studying Genesis 3 this week, I sat down to read with a hint of "been there, done that" in my attitude. But God, as He always does, showed me something new that I had never known before--something that I needed to hear in this place of uncertainty that we sometimes find ourselves.
"Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"
The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'"
"You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. (Genesis 3:1-6)
That was an account of Satan's very first attack on mankind. But what struck me when I studied it this time was the tactic Satan used to try and separate man from the God who loved him, the God who created him. Now I'm no warrior, but it seems logical to me that if you're trying to win a battle--if you're aiming to take command over another army--that you would charge in with your guns blazing. Rarely have I heard of troops making small-talk with the opposition in an effort to turn their affections away from their leader and toward those whom they battle.
But there were no blazing guns in Genesis 3. Rather, Satan chose to use something far more subtle (and I believe far more sinister) to cause Eve to disobey God, and therefore, separate herself from Him.
Read that passage again. Not a single time does Satan tell Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit. Not once does he pull a power-play on her and make her feel as if she has no choice. Instead, he simply plants in her a seed of doubt (Did God really say, "You must not eat from any tree in the garden?"), he waters it with a lie (...when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God...), and then he sits back and watches her sin grow.
What a powerful weapon! And unfortunately, I see it used time and time again. In all honesty, I've struggled with this very thing countless times (although until God showed me this passage in a new light, I didn't recognize it for what it was). I'm ashamed to say that we spent years not acting on what God was calling us to do. But it wasn't because we were shaking our fists in His face and shouting "No way!"...it was because we doubted God's plans. The conversations went something like this:
"God, I know you've set our hearts toward adopting, but do you know how much adoption costs these days?"
Or "Lord, we know you're calling us into full-time ministry, but we don't know how we would pay the bills while paying for Seminary as well. And what about time? Josh works a regular full-time job, you know?"
While God hasn't always answered those specific questions in the way we asked them, He has provided for our every need. And He reminds us that "those plans" aren't arbitrary or meaningless. They're His plans, and His way is perfect and His word is flawless (Psalm 18:30).
We've found particular comfort in the words of Luke 12:24-34:
"Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
"Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
This passage speaks more of superficial things like clothing, food, and drink, but I don't think the promises of this Scripture are limited in that way. The truth is that there are many great blessings found in trusting God with our lives and being obedient to His commands.
Lord, thank you for the patience you show us everyday. Please forgive us for the times that we have doubted you or doubted the perfection of your plans for our lives. Please give us confidence to move forward boldly on the path you have set before us, and continue to provide for us along the way. We love you, Lord. Amen.