Falling

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Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge Him.  Hosea 6:3.

Today I worked on God With Us, the Bible Study I am writing about the dwelling places of God woven through the covenants.  I wrote about Eden, about innocence, about what was lost to us there.  I am learning that writing a Bible Study is a poignant experience.  It carves grooves in me, like whip-wounds.  Every writer learns to “show not tell.”  Instead of spoon-feeding content, great writers create a compelling space for readers to find their way to a meaningful truth.  Writing this Bible Study takes that concept to an even more naked level.  I must simply present passages of Scripture, give a simple background explanation, then take my hands off of it. It takes restraint, because I feel like this is “my truth.”  It feels vulnerable to release it to simplicity, because, O, how I desire the Holy Spirit to ignite in you what is consuming me.  To know the covenant God who has literally shaken heaven and earth to simply be with us.  To secure ourselves to the the anchor of Promise-God who has made all of history the chronicle of one phrase:  I will be their God, and they will be my people.  God is dazzling.  He is luminous.  Knowing Him overwhelms me, and it is this particular piece of His story, the covenant dwelling places, that has captivated me with breathless wonder.

Today I cried while reading the story of the fall in Genesis 3.  At Starbucks.  Tears fell on the pages of my Bible.  I have read it fifty thousand times.  I just read it to Jack a few weeks ago. But after mulling over the deep significance of covenant in Eden and the unbroken intimacy of innocence that will never be mine or my children’s, I was overcome.  The loss of Eden is the saddest story ever told.

What can I do with you, Ephraim?  What can I do with you, Judah?  Your love is like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears. For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.  Like Adam, they have broken the covenant – they were unfaithful to me there.  Hosea 6:4,6-7.

Today, as I immersed myself in Eden, I felt God’s grief.  I heard the deep cosmic shudder that tore all of history asunder.  Sin.  Rebellion.  The ugly reality that we are broken forever, beyond hope, if not for grace.

Come, let us return to the Lord.  He has torn us to pieces but He will heal us.  He has injured us but He will bind up our wounds.  Hosea 6:1.

From Eden onward, all of us have ached infinitely.  We all feel what existential philosophy calls angst, or fundamental anxiety at our inability to un-fall.

The Scream, a portrait of angst by Edvard Munch

Every Christian should mourn the fall of man.  Without self-righteousness, because I am willing to bet the farm that all of us would have done exactly what Adam did.  After all, we were made in God’s image, but not with God’s authority. Sticks in your craw, right?  It does mine, sometimes.

None of us will ever be innocent, but we will be redeemed.

Our covenant God has made a way through the falling.  Covenants provide an unfolding structure.  They are the stepping stones that lead to the Cross.  And with each covenant, God still dwells with us, in spite of what we have lost.  From Eden to the Promised Land, from the Tabernacle to the Temple, into the hearts of believers, God has always made a way to be with us.  He loves us.  Love makes a way.

  We all are falling. This hand there falls.
  And look at the other: it is in all of them.

  And yet there is One, whose hand,                                                                                                 infinitely gentle, holds up all of this falling.          

  from Autumn, by Rainer Maria Rilke

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