One of my greatest joys in life is when I get home from work, open the front door and my kids come running down the hall and jump into my arms. It is sometimes accompanied by a yell from my son, “DAD!” and a scream from my daughter, “DADDY! DADDY! DADDY!” and then hugs which strain my muscles and almost trip me ensue. It’s dangerous to my eardrums and my neck, but wonderful nonetheless; that moment is pure and beautiful. From the sight of them dashing toward me to the time when I finally extricate myself from their tenacious, constrictor-like grasp, I fall in love with them all over again.
Have you ever thought about what it must have been like for Adam, Eve and God in the Garden of Eden BEFORE the whole episode with the snake? We know that after taking the forbidden fruit and they “heard the sound of the LORD God as He was walking in the garden in the cool of the day … [that] they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden” (Gen 3:8). They HID from Him! We aren’t told in scripture what they did before that ghastly day, but my logic tells me that they didn’t HIDE from Him. It might have been decades, centuries, or even millennia before the fall. Years and years of love and happiness and my bet is that they did something more like my kids when they saw and heard God coming: maybe they ran to Him and yelling “ABBA!” they jumped into His arms, covering Him with kisses and hugs?
They were pure before the fruit and they experienced His provision every moment in very tangible ways. Much like a child who understands in some simple and inherent way that he is dependent upon his parents for what he needs, Adam and Eve no doubt saw God as their provider and their source of love and would have bounded to Him with hearts of joy when they heard Him walking in the garden. Perhaps after sprinting to Him they would walk by His side and talk with Him? Together they could revel in the birds’ songs, the gentle glint of sunlight off of water and look with delight at the bright flowers. God could have shared the secrets of His clever creations and helped them appreciate His brushwork on the canvas of creation or the intricate harmonies of His garden symphony. The fellowship of enjoying His omniscience and basking in His love and artistry would have been overwhelming and entirely welcome – to the point of needing to sprint into His arms at the sight of Him.
But we know the rest of the story and how that blissful fellowship was ruined forever. The runs into His arms were snuffed out. The days of unbridled delight at His coming were replaced by fear. The hugs of glee had given way to hiding in shame. All of that joy was replaced by sorrow … and for what? A single, stupid, hateful lie.
I know that one day my kids’ runs into my arms will give way to nonchalance at my coming. Routine will make things less special or surprising or delightful. Which upon reflection is in itself a consequence of the fall: In losing our innocence we no doubt also lost an ability to experience true delight. Each step down the road of this piteous world we’ve concocted for ourselves since the divergent decision in the garden, each day we spend toiling on through the muck and mire of our fallen surroundings, removes us further from the innocence of childhood and therefore the recurrent delight of His presence. A presence … THE presence … which God intended to always be ours.
When my children’s nonchalance replaces the hug attacks I have no doubt that I’ll be heartbroken, but I’ll also understand it; after all, the fallen world in which we live destroys our joy just through sustained contact with it. But how did God, as Adam and Eve’s Father, feel when the jubilant runs into His arms abruptly ended and were replaced with a disgraceful concealment in the trees? Pain. Pain is all that comes to mind at that thought. Perhaps, at the very moment He called out, “Where are you?” He felt the pain of turning His back on the Second Adam hanging on the cross in substitution for the first? Perhaps, at the very moment He asked of Eve, “What is this you have done?” He felt the pain from her future children hiding in shame instead of running into His arms? And perhaps, as both Adam and Eve passed the blame on to someone else for the sin they had committed, He felt it heaped onto a cross four millennia later?
In grief the Father, who had created a pure world to be delighted in by His pure children in pure company with Himself, now had to call down a curse upon that world and those children; and in the curse was the pain of generations who would betray Him anew.
It’s there, at the curse, that any worldly author would have to stop the story because the gulf that was created by the betrayal of countless generations was too wide to bridge by the guilty party. Adam’s children and grandchildren spiraled off into deeper delvings of shame in efforts to hide their actions from their true Father. Until one day in a small, dusty town in a backward province of the Roman Empire, the Author of Heaven wrote a Second Adam into the story. This Second Adam would take all of the shame of the generations of hiding children upon Himself and nail it to a tree in full sight of the Living God and then use the wood from that tree to bridge the chasm of sinful generations.
Across that bridge now run God’s children to jump into His arms, fling their hugs about His neck and cry, “ABBA! FATHER! I’m so glad to see You!”
Thank You, Abba, for fixing our relationship. Thank You, Abba, for scooping us into Your loving arms. Thank You for being our Father.