Lessons from The Garden

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I thought I understood the book of Genesis. After all, I grew up in church. I have been attending since I was in the womb! God has a way of humbling me when I think I know it all. We’ve been going through God of Creation by Jen Wilkin in our Friday morning Bible study, and my, oh my! How much I didn’t know!

Let me rewind a little bit. I’m 35 years old, grew up in church, was saved as a teenager, and am traveling through the wonderful and sometimes difficult process of sanctification. I was the goody-two-shoes who always had an answer. Shoot. I still do. If a question is asked in church, and I know the answer, it just pops right out of my mouth before I can even think. Greg will often give me a side-eye look. I just start laughing and shrug my shoulders. I’m working on it. However until recently, I thought I knew the God of the Bible. And to some extent, I do. The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know. I’m not half as smart as I thought I was.

On to the present: the last book we studied was Women of the Word, also by Jen Wilkin. I can not recommend this book enough! If you feel like you don’t have a grasp on how to study the Bible, please, get this book and read it. This is a wonderful resource and Jen really does a great job of walking you through not just the how, but they why, of studying God’s Word! It opened my eyes and has helped guide me as I want to dig deeper into Scripture. I learned a better way to study then what I had previously been doing. I’ve never been discipled in a formal way. I’ve had people come in and out of my life, but not to stay. Most of my years, I was on my own to try and grow in spiritual maturity, including how to study the Bible. I am so grateful that this book was presented to me. It’s changed the way I view studying Scripture!

All of that was free. You’re welcome.

Now, onto the lessons I’m currently learning in Genesis.

This is going to be a snapshot, not a dissertation. At the end of each week’s study, the question of what did we learn about God is asked. I’m making a list to help me remember what each chapter is about. The first three are easy to remember, because they are some of the first we learn, right?

In Genesis 1, we see God as Creator. He is powerful; He speaks and something is formed out of nothing. Last I checked, my words didn’t create something from nothing. His creativity is astounding. He created time and space. It blows my mind and I have a difficult time comprehending the fact that He existed before there was time, space, or matter. He is infinite, I am finite.

Genesis 2 we see that God is a loving and personal. He goes from speaking things into existing, to forming man from the dust of the ground and breathing the breath of life into him. He is not a distant God, He is near. He’s not far off, so almighty that He is unapproachable. We see His personal touch and care in this chapter.

Genesis 3 comes along, and we often know it as “The Fall of Man,” which is true. Now however, I see it a little bit differently in view of who God is. We see God’s justice towards sin. Adam and Eve sinned and the punishment was great. No matter who was to blame, sin was now present. There was a price to be paid for it. No longer could Adam and Eve live in the garden. Life would be different forevermore. The sin of our first parents have affected every generation there after. There was the first sacrifice. He clothed Adam and Eve with animal skins and drove them out of the garden. I often wonder if that was difficult for God to do. There are times it is hard to discipline/punish my own children for their disobedience.

Here is where the rubber meets the road for me. Part of my personality is the desire to see justice served. It is my black-and-white, no gray mentality. However, during this week’s homework, God shook me. It’s easy to read about sin, study the why’s behind it, the deceit of the enemy, and point our finger at someone else. Right? We easily and quickly see it in those around us and are slow to examine our own lives. We say, “Why did Eve do it?” instead of asking, “Why do I do it?”

I sin, when I believe God is holding out on me.

I sin, when I start to doubt what God says.

I sin, when I diminish the consequences and believe I’m an exception to the rule.

I sin, when I fix my eyes on anything other than Christ because my desires turn inward to the flesh.

And I take people with me.

Just like Eve. She was tempted with the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, just like we all are. She fixed her eyes on the forbidden fruit, ate, and shared it. I know, Adam could have said no, I get that. But he didn’t. We often drag people into our sin or don’t consider the ripple effect it will have on those around us.

As I studied, the wanting justice in me was quickly squashed with one question, “Do I want God’s justice served as quickly to me as I do those around me?” Insert audible gut wrenching sound. It was like I got punched in the stomach. My sin is no better or worse than the next person. Yet, God loves me enough to discipline me. When He says to me, “Gail, where are you?” am I going to take the opportunity of His kindness to confess and repent? He already knows. I might be able to fool those around me, but I cannot fool God.

God is love, absolutely, but He is also just. We see in Genesis 3 even as He serves justice, His love is still right there beside it. He clothed Adam and Eve to cover their nakedness and shame. Yet, there were still consequences. He had to drive them out of the garden. They knew what had been lost. Do we? Do we know what we are losing when we go against God?

This week has truly renewed a fear of the Lord in me. A reverential fear. He is God, and the more I know Him, the more I see the distance between who I am and who I’m called to be. But not without hope. I see His love for me in the sending of His Son, in the gift of the Holy Spirit, and even in His justice. My sin is ever before me, and I know He disciplines me because He loves me. Even though it hurts, there is something comforting about it. He wants me to be conformed to the image of His Son. That might hurt a little bit. It means dying to self, to sin, and intentionally striving after godliness. Holiness is a high call, but that is what we are after. I don’t like being convicted, but I’d rather feel conviction than not. I don’t want my heart to be so hard I no longer feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit, even when it hurts.

I want to have that fear of the Lord that brings wisdom to my life, and will help keep me from sinning against Him. My desire is to know God more, hate the sin in my own life, confess and repent, and walk in holiness. Who knew God could show me all of that in one chapter of Genesis? I hope this challenges and encourages you. Study the Word for yourself, and see what God wants to teach you!