|We moved to California in December of 2017 after 30 years of living in Oklahoma.
There are plenty of ways California is different from Oklahoma, and I’m still getting used to a few laws. For example, you’re not supposed to hold your cellphone, even while stopped at a stoplight. I get it. Traffic is nuts, and lawmakers are just trying to keep everyone safe. But this means I usually ask Siri to text for me.
Siri doesn’t always listen well. Sometimes, Siri simply gets it wrong. Once, I wanted to text a friend that I was grateful for the love of Jesus, and Siri translated that I was grateful for olives and cheese sauce. Siri heard, but didn’t understand.
And Lord forgive me, but sometimes I’m just like her. Sometimes I hear, but don’t understand.
There are times I believe God is trying to tell me something, but I filter His words through my own feelings or personal motives. We often do this with stories we’ve read in Scripture.
Have you ever seen one of those beginner’s Bibles with the colorful pictures? The saddest page of Adam and Eve’s story shows them holding each other and leaving the garden with their little fig-leaf clothes and sorrowful faces. When we were young, many of us were taught that because Adam and Eve disobeyed, they were punished and had to leave this paradise God made for them.
This conclusion is mostly true, but we miss that it’s actually a beautiful picture of God’s mercy. Yes, Adam and Eve disobeyed God, and in that moment, they stopped being perfect reflections of the Lord. They couldn’t remain in the presence of a perfectly holy God as they had before. They had to be separated.
But, God didn’t want them to stay separated from His original design forever. He created them to walk and talk with Him. He wanted this relationship restored, but restoration was in danger if Adam and Eve stayed in the garden.
Remember, when God made the garden, there were many trees, but two trees were mentioned by name — the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life. God warned them they couldn’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but what was so significant about the second tree?
When Adam and Eve sinned, God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever” (Genesis 3:22).
If they ate from this tree, Adam and Eve would live forever but in eternal separation from God. And God loved them too much to allow this to happen. He kept them from the tree of life so He could send His Son to restore humanity to right the relationship with Himself.
When we read that God said Adam and Eve had to go, many of us hear punishment. We hear banishment. But God was saying so much more. He was saying, “I love them too much to be separated from them forever.”
I think we all have places in our lives where we need to reevaluate what God has said to us. Perhaps we always heard God’s words through a filter of judgment. Instead, let’s filter everything we hear God say through the filter of His love. We need to hear His words … and His heart.
Today, I believe the Lord would say to us: I love you too much, and that’s why I kept you from it. I love you too much; that’s why I answered you the way I did. It wasn’t to punish. It wasn’t to hurt. It wasn’t because I am cruel. Everything that I’ve ever done for you is compelled by My love. Hear My heart today. I am good.
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Dear Lord, today I choose to repent for the moments I misunderstood You. Thank You for being the God who redeems. I want to hear Your Word and understand Your heart. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.