One of the experiences we all likely share from our childhood is the moment we know we have done something wrong adn are going to be in trouble. When I was about 10 years old, I can remember clearly just such an incident. My friend Kim had come over to and we were goofing off upstairs in my room. Okay, so really we were mostly trying to hide from my little sister who we had decided was not cool enough to hang out with us on this particular day. My sister had, once again, come uninvited into my room and Kim and I had an idea.
We told my sister we were going to play hide and seek and that she should stay put, cover her eyes and count to 10. As she started counting, Kim and I dashed out of my room knowing we had very little time to find a hiding spot. We decided our best bet was to hide just a few feet away in my sister’s room hoping she would go downstairs looking for us allowing us to sneak back into my room. As we ran into my sister’s room, Kim took a flying leap across my sister’s bed intending to hide between it and the far wall. The problem, Kim had a little too much momentum and ended up crashing into the wall with her hip hard enough to dent the dry wall.
There was no hiding what had happened. I tried. I failed miserably. I had to fess up that Kim and I had not been including my sister. I don’t remember the consequences for certain but I would bet I wasn’t allowed to have Kim over for a while. I do remember the guilt I felt whenever I looked at the dented wall until my dad and uncle were able to repair it. That guilt was certainly a strong deterrent to doing something like that again for a long while.
We all make mistakes. Usually those mistakes have temporary consequences. But every once in a while, mistakes can have big, long lasting consequences. We try to avoid those mistakes, but they happen. Mistakes which end marriages, end careers, end trust are mistakes which find us having to begin again in some way.
Adam and Eve made a big mistake. Their story is found in Genesis before we even get done with the first chapter. They had everything. They lived in paradise. They did not know hunger, pain, or loss. They talked with God face to face on a daily basis. They did not know what it was to be too hot or too cold. They did not know what it was like to wish they could be taller, shorter, thinner, fatter, faster, smarter, or anything but exactly who they were.
They were free to do anything except touch or eat fruit from one tree in the center of the garden. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil. I find it interesting they were not to even TOUCH the fruit. So often we focus on how they ate from the tree and we forget that they were not even supposed to touch it. God wanted them to stay far away from this temptation. He didn’t want them carrying the fruit around the garden to be always tempted by it. He intended for them to stay well clear of the temptation to eat from the tree.
And yet the serpent’s whisper draws them in, draws them close enough to the tree to touch the fruit, to pick it from its branches. It is worth noting that the fruit looked good. If it didn’t, if was hard to reach or gave off an unpleasant odor, the serpent would have had a much harder job of convincing Eve to take some and Eve would have had a harder job of convincing Adam to try some. Sin still often holds a similar appeal. On the surface, it looks harmless, it appears to be a good, logical thing to try. But once you reach out towards it, it is hard to stop yourself from making the mistake of choosing sin.
First Eve makes the choice to listen to the serpent and then Adam. They both make a big mistake. They both sin. And that evening, when God comes to walk and talk with them in the garden, they realize they are in trouble. They feel guilt and shame for the first time and so attempt to hide from God. But just like I couldn’t hide the dent in my sister’s bedroom wall, they are unable to hide their sin from God.
Just like us, they had a hard time owning up to their mistake. When God asks them what happened, Adam points his finger at Eve who points her finger at the serpent. How often do we try to shift the blame elsewhere for our mistakes? I have to wonder what the consequences would have been for Adam and Eve if they would have taken ownership of their mistake. Would they still have been banished from the garden? Would Adam have to toil so hard to coax the land to bear fruit the rest of his days? Would Eve suffer such great pains in childbirth? What might have been different?
We will never know. It’s one of those questions we will have to ask God when we get to heaven. But until then, we can know we are not alone when we make a mistake which forces us to begin again in some way. God didn’t leave Adam and Eve on their own. He provided a way for them to make sacrifice and atone for their sins. He promised a Messiah to would redeem mankind and make a way for humanity to once again be in God’s presence. While we can never undo the past, the Bible shows us that God will always provide a way forward which redeems the past, which makes the work required to begin again worth it.
What mistakes have you made which you have refused to take ownership for? Start with confessing those to God. He won’t be surprised by them, he already knows about them. Where it is appropriate, helpful, and healing, go to those who have been hurt by your mistake, confess your wrong doing and work to make it right. It’s hard work but it’s also healing work. (James 5:16)
How can you extend mercy and grace to those who have made mistakes which have impacted your life? How can you offer forgiveness to them? How can you help them begin to build trust again?
Adam and Eve’s mistake ultimately happened by allowing themselves to stray too closely to a source of temptation. What temptations are the easiest for you to give into? How can you limit your exposure to those temptations? Ask God to help you see the truth when temptation arises instead of the allure of the sin.