An array of color radiated from the sky casting a kaleidoscope of dye through the leaves and branches. The vibrant hues spread warm embraces through the blooms and blossoms of the garden. Walking through the vestibule of floras, she stretched her arm out to gently touch the soft, green foliage. Closing her eyes, the wind blew across her face and naked body, almost wrapping itself around her as a second covering. She smiled as if a sweet friend had come back into her life, lifting her up towards the cottony, white pillows that lay in the sky. Yes, her heart danced with joy; safe, protected, loved, and secure.
Opening her eyes, she knelt down and touched the droplets of water on the velvet carpet. Grass is what Adam called it. A deep, green silky blanket she loved to lie on looking towards the blue and white firmament. After careful investigation and intrigue, she had found an open, quiet spot of olive lawn. As if she had found her own little nook in the vast wilderness, Eve took her position; back to the earth, legs and arms out to the side feeling the blades of meadow under her fingertips. Heaven.
Eyes closed to enjoy a few minutes of solitude, a presence interrupted her thoughts; something moved within the brush. Sitting up and looking towards the path, she expected to see her husband walk through the forest. Cocking her head to one side, she listened. Nothing. Shoulders shrugged, she lay back down to enjoy a few more minutes of seclusion.
Eve felt it before she heard it. It was as if the air changed all around her; her arms and neck prickled with the feeling of something new. Something she did not understand. A voice seemed to whisper in her ear. Vibrating through her being, an unfamiliar presence surrounded her, calling her to come. “Adam?” she called. Unable to put her finger on where the intruder hid, Eve knew someone was close.
One of my favorite movies is the Hobbit; An Unexpected Journey. In the opening monologue, Bilbo Baggins settles into his bureau and begins the tale of all tales to his cousin Frodo. He poetically writes, “It began, well, it began as you might expect. In a hole in the ground, there lived a Hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty wet hole, full of worms and oozy smells; this was a Hobbit-hole, and that means good food, a warm hearth, and all the comforts of home.” As in the story of Eve, it begins, well, as you might expect it to begin. In a beautiful garden with cascading waterfalls and ribbons of green vine filled flowers encircling the animals of the orchard. Pleasant, calm, and serene, a man and a woman enjoy a life of quiet comfort, safety and security with the protector and creator of the garden.
There home is a haven of everything and anything they want; all the desires and bodily comforts assuredly fulfilled. They walk in the cool of every evening with the God of the Universe. He is gentle and kind, full of love and laughter, peace and patience. Eve wanders where she wills. Her inquisitive heart searches for new and amazing creepy-crawlies. She is fascinated with what Adam calls the caterpillar. Squishy and paunchy to the touch, she marvels as it spins a silken cocoon wrapping itself in the softest of materials. Every day she would look at the caterpillar sleeping in its secluded nest. “When does it wake?” she thought to herself.
On an unusually vibrant day, the sun seemed warmer; almost scorching her skin while venturing out into the open field. As was her custom, Eve found the familiar cocoon, but to her surprise, the caterpillar was moving. Her eyes widened, for something else struggled for freedom. Her fingertips ever so gently touched what looked like petals on an insect. The orange and black-stripped wings were dotted with white flecks of dust. “Beautiful,” she whispered.
As the creature shimmed out of the sheath, Eve held her breath a moment, captivated by the intriguing yet lovely little creature. A laugh escaped her as Eve watched the butterfly glide through the warm air, dipping and sashaying in the wide-open advance. Magnificent. What else is there to see in the garden?
Turning back towards the path, that unusual feeling stopped her short. Neck and arms prickled with something new. Undecided as to whether she liked the novel experienced sensation, Eve had the feeling something was near her. Pausing to listen for any movement, something caught her attention. Eye level on a branch in the path that lay ahead, Eve strained her senses to see what it was. Green, scaly skin camouflaged amongst the jade foliage making it difficult to decipher what the creature was. She could make out a long, slender body with a rough, crusty outer pelt. Slowly, she walked by the strange being as it lay on the tributary, hidden amongst the dark patches of shadow. Only a small glimmer of light fell through patches of open timber, allowing Eve to catch glimpses of the black and blue forked tongue protruding from its mouth. Its eyes watched her every move and turned its scaly head following her steps. Eve passed the unknown meander determined to find out what it was.
Sin crouches and is deceptive. It is methodical and strategic. How could an enemy best disguise and overcome the element of surprise by masquerading as innocent and harmless? It establishes a plan. It watches and observes our behavior. It waits and slowly draws itself closer. With every inch covered, we may see it coming. As Eve, the feeling she was experiencing was dark and different, but because she had never experienced evil, the naïve woman opened the door for destruction. The serpent watched. It slithered and crawled, crouched and shrouded its body only allowing her to see when it wanted. With each day, it boldly came closer.
Eve became accustomed to the feeling. It may have startled her in the beginning when she was unknowledgeable as to whether it was following her or not, but as she grew comfortable to his presence, the snake waited for the opportunity to strike. Darkness would find its way near her. Whether tilling and working the garden, exploring and discovering new adventures, or eating and waking, Eve could rest assure the snake was veiled by. She could feel its presence.
Just as Eve, the serpent lies in wait and watches. The television offers delightful fantasies and fixtures we’ve invited in to our homes. It waits to be turned on; channels perused and flickering dropping seeds of tantalizing options at out fingertips: glutton and gorging on food, sales from the finest materials, gold and silver beckoning for credit, promiscuous, sexual bodies desiring one another, malevolent violence leaving a trail of blood through our home, and demonic blackness surfacing as vampires, witches, and zombies clawing their way into our living rooms. Yes, the serpent waits and watches; sin crouches at your door, it desires to have you. Have you extended an invitation to darkness consumed by the lures of death and decay? As God encouraged Cain, you must master it!
Spiritual warfare is an invitation. We send out our requests, good or evil, as an open door into our hearts, spirits, and minds. What are you inviting into your home and heart? Whom have you allowed to wander freely amongst your personal belongs? Is it good? Is it evil?
I believe we have grown so accustomed to the world around us that we have not lent a quiet ear to the Holy Spirit. 1 Kings 19:9-13, “There he came to a cave and spent the night in it; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ He said, ‘I have been very zealous (impassioned) for the Lord God of hosts (armies) [proclaiming what is rightfully and uniquely His]; for the sons of Israel have abandoned (broken) Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I, only I, am left; and they seek to take away my life.’
So He said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord.’ And behold, the Lord was passing by, and a great and powerful wind was tearing out the mountains and breaking the rocks in pieces before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind, [there was] an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake, [there was] a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire, [there was] the sound of a gentle blowing. When Elijah heard the sound, he wrapped his face in his mantle (cloak) and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And behold, a voice came to him and said, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’ ”
I believe these are beautiful and insightful Scriptures as to the way God speaks to His children. The Lord was not in the noise and distractions. He was not abrasive or loud. Our Father was not destructive and burdensome. Rather, God came gently and quietly in a soft voice on the wind. Beautiful.
Eve opened the door and we have all felt the destructive patterns of sin. She never rebuked it; she never cast it aside; she never told it to go away; she never asked God what it was. Eve feel for temptation. Although she could have anything and everything she wanted at her fingertips, this woman chose darkness.
I often think, “I wonder what would have happened if Eve had taken responsibility for her action?” What if Eve had said, “Yes, I messed up. I took the fruit, ate of what I was told not to, and am willing to be punished.” How do you think God would have responded? Proverbs 24:16 says, “For a righteous man fall seven times, and rises again, but the wicked stumble in time of disaster and collapse.” Eve fell, collapsed and did not show any remorse. She was not righteous and did not accept responsibility.
God is loving-kind and merciful. He will give everyone the opportunity to repent and change. “From that time Jesus began to preach and say, ‘Repent [change your inner self – your old way of thinking, regret past sins, live your life in a way that proves repentance; seek God’s purpose for you life], for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’” (Matthew 4:17).
Eve did not repent, she did not regret what she had done, and was unwilling to change. She chose collapse, for the righteous person falls, but repents. God shows us our faults and temptations. We are called to master them. Remember, our Lord is always working. He reveals Himself to His people quietly, methodically, individually, and purposefully. His ways will always lead you down a path to holiness, not worldliness.
My prayer is this chapter has planted a good seed. A seed that will begin to take root, sprout, and harvest a new season in your life. A season you can be proud of; a season you can change and become all God wants you to be. A season letting go of darkness and deep roots hidden when no one watches. Usually that’s how it happens. Children know when they are doing something wrong. They hide it. They close the door to the world, and in seclusion, proceed to disguise. The innocent try and mask their deviant behavior to lies and blame when caught. As parents, our job is to teach and discipline. Our Lord does the same:
“For the time being, no discipline brings joy, but seems sad and painful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness [right standing with God and a lifestyle and attitude that seeks conformity to God’s will and purpose] (Hebrews 12:11).
“The [reverent] fear of the Lord [that is worshipping Him and regarding Him as truly awesome] is the beginning and the preeminent part of knowledge [its starting point and its essence]; but arrogant fools despise [skillful and godly] wisdom and instruction and self-discipline” (Proverbs 1:7).
From Eve, the open door, we will begin our dive into deep water. Falling from the security of the boat, backwards we tumble into crystal blue waters. A few feet into our plunge, underwater, we can look up and still see sunlight. But as we descend into unknown depths, the light disappears and we search in the unknown. Sin is the same correlation. In the beginning, it seems innocent and different. As our mind delves deeper into obscurity, light is gone, darkness surrounds with a thousand pounds of pressure; the ball and chain is heavy. Here begins our descent into Mark 7:20-23 and Galatians 5:19-21.