Before Chapter 3

I gotta tell you something
I’ve been struggling with for a while.
It’s not a major sin or a nasty habit
in need of intervention,
in fact it’s a question of interruption,
A problem of periods ending sentences
at the end of sections
marked with numbers designating location
in my Bible.

See, I wanted to start reading my Bible.
I wanted to absorb the very word of God
translated as best as it possibly can be
from the Hebrew and from the Greek
I went back to the beginning
because it seemed like a good place to start
but I wasn’t reading very long
and I didn’t get very far before 
my eyes had seen enough

I was too DEPRESSED to get very far
I started at the beginning
and got only two chapters
into Genesis
and I had to quit my devotional act
to spit the bile that was quickly rising
from my insides like black tar.

IN THE BEGINNING, GOD.
In the beginning YOU were there
and from the formless and void,
the chaotic and functionless
you called everything out.
By the very sound of your voice
things came to their roles and assignments
and you said they were good.
And so I keep reading thinking that
if creation was good it can only
get better.

If in six days you indeed created the earth
and it was good enough
that on the seventh day you looked at it,
called it very good and you rested
then it must be the very definition
of perfection.

But on the sixth day you created man
And he was meant to give you
nothing but glory
and worship you for the very dust
he was created from and
the very breath of life within him
which was you, God.
And you made creation even better
when you anesthetized Adam,
realizing he was not meant
to wander this world alone
as a solitary creature having dominion
over nothing but himself and the animals.
Without a helper.
Alone.
The only one of his kind.
So you laid him down on the ground,
performed surgery, removing a single rib
from a single side and created for him
a single helper to help him in his daily duties
including loving each other without shame
despite their God-given nudity.

And Adam REJOICES in this saying,
“This is bone of my bones
and skin of my skin
and she will be called ish’ah
for she was taken from ish.
To God be the glory
because without him I’d be wandering
this perfect garden
darlin’ I am incomplete, now,
without you…”

See, this is where I have trouble
moving forward because
the story up until this point is the story
of perfection and sha’lom
The of kind peace and completeness
I just can’t see defeated in fact
I’m rendered SPEECHLESS for every
moment I dwell on the perfection
of God’s creation
and the short history of man and woman
before they are first presented with temptation.

So this is where I shut my Bible
and shake with such anger and frustration
that I shut the front cover quickly and toss
it away from me.
Just because I can’t face the grim reality
that comes with the opening of chapter three.

WHY GOD? WHY couldn’t you have stopped
with the creation of Adam and Eve,
man and woman, ish va’ish’ah?
 lam’ah?
Because we all know that the story only lasts
a short while before going East,
before the serpent leads into temptation
and delivers them the feast of the eyes
and of the lips, the tongue and the teeth
with the promise of being like you
GOD, I WANT to be LIKE YOU
but I could have done without
knowing what was right and what was wrong
because I now know the PRICE
of losing PERFECTION
along with losing my completeness in you.

But knowing right from wrong
got our first parents sent out,
told to kick rocks and depart
because paradise had been lost,
it’s gates shut and guarded by
something so terrifying I hesitate
to draw the picture of it in my head

I realize that I can’t go back
and change any of this but I lament
at the loss of shal’om and so I return
to the beginning
over and over again to get a taste
of what it was like when all was
perfect.
I hold my hands to my chest
to feel it stutter, I rub my
arthritic knees and shoulders,
I sink to the depths of depression
and when I’ve almost drowned
I let my mind run free
and remember the cost of sin in this world.

But is the picture really that bleak?

I look out into the night sky and wonder
if the lesser lights of heaven are as
perfectly painted that night as it was
when its existence was first uttered.

And I wonder about the night in the garden
the one called “Oil press”
were the lesser lights as bright as Jesus
STRESSED to the point that the capillaries burst
around his distressed sweat glands
causing him to sweat his own BLOOD.
And as they dragged him away he desired
no more blood to be shed,
So when Peter swung that blade
and took off that servant’s ear
He told him, “Put your sword away.
You might not like this but you cannot
take my Father’s cup away from me.”

So when they BEAT him
and ripped the flesh from his BODY
with THORNS and WHIPS and RODS
he offered NO RESISTANCE because this
revolution would not be televised.
It would be LIVE.
So, he took UP his cross and CARRIED it
to the place of the skull
and on it he seemed to be saying
“I know your pain and suffering is great
but I will bear it all to save your souls.

I will MAKE myself incomplete
and imperfect just so I can
make you whole again and
I can’t do that without offering up
myself, the LAMB without MARKS,
marked up and marred for all
the things you will ever do wrong.
I LOVE YOU
BEHOLD, I am making all things NEW!
And now that you know that,
this thing is through,
IT IS FINISHED.
[… But I’m not done yet…]”

And then something happens
that I can never fully wrap my
head around.
It sends me spinning in dizzying
mind melting moments of indecision
I am often at a loss for words.
And I’m sure his followers were too…

“HE IS RISEN!”

And the debt of Genesis 3
the chapter I must fight with myself
to read is only a matter of record
for those who abide in him
who conquered sin and death
to bring us back not into peace
but into a more perfect existence in sha’lom
reconciling all things to himself
and promising a new heaven
and new earth where God and his children
will reside forever
where all tears will be swept aside and
Jesus will be fully reunited with the one he loved
even when she didn’t love him, his bride
singing
HOLY, HOLY, HOLY IS THE LORD GOD ALMIGHTY
WHO WAS AND IS AND IS TO COME

And I will hopefully see you there
someday.
But, to remain faithful
I have to be faithful today.
God, I know you meant
for creation to be beautiful and 
I’m sorry for what I’ve made it into
Please, never let this yearning for perfection
leave this broken heart unmended
until that day when the perfect
comes for me,
wipes my eyes clear and tells me,
“It’s time to come home.”

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