One minute, I was on a high of living my best life now! I had it all — my good ol’ boy husband, Justin, who would take a bullet for me, healthy children, a dream home nestled in the heart of East Texas complete with white picket fence and a kitchen overflowing with friends on any given night. I had a good reputation in my thirty-thousand-member hometown (no small feat) and the respect of my church as a leader, and as a woman (again, no small feat in the Southern Baptist, white evangelical, Bible Belt of the world).
Then in the very next minute, my entire life came crashing to the ground.
After months of dismissing her gut instinct, my best friend Rachel, decided to dig deeper into her husband, Ty’s, phone records. When she did, she unknowingly unleashed the beginning of our end — the day my secret, 3-year affair with Ty finally hit the light of day.
I think all of our life-altering ends find their beginning in the same four words Satan posed as a question to Eve in the garden: “Did God really say?”
“Kasey, did God really say he doesn’t need your help running the universe?”
“Did God really say you are enough right where you are?”
“Kasey, did God really say Justin is the right guy for you — forever? What if Justin really knew you — who you’ve been, what you’ve done? Would he stay then, love you then?”
“Did God really say you must not eat from just any tree in the garden?”
No wonder Paul compared the Christians of Corinth to Eve’s worst day when he confessed how scared he was for them. Paul was afraid that just like Eve, they would be deceived by the serpent’s cunning and their minds led astray from their sincere and pure devotion to Christ (2 Corinthians 11:3).
Even now, his warning echoes through the corridor of our twenty-first-century church that, just like our first mother, Eve, smack dab in the middle of everything she could possibly want or need, God’s chosen can still be lured into believing it isn’t enough. That even the most authentic and committed Christ-followers can find themselves beguiled by Satan’s charms, blind to the truth and belly-up in painful repercussion.
May we not forget that Satan’s ultimate fight is with God.
And because Satan knows he is not powerful enough to land an attack on his true nemesis, he will use all of his time and resources to wage war on the next best thing — God’s real, authentic children.
Like Eve, my intention was never to distrust God. Like her, I loved God, knew Him and spent daily time with Him. It was unlikely I would turn my back on Him over something as simple as attraction to the wrong man. Like Eve, I had to think about my decision, spend time turning the fruit over and over in my hands — smell it, position it on the mantel so I could stand back and stare at it a few weeks before biting into it.
Also, like Eve, I did something much more devastating than just take a bite of fruit; I used my love for God to justify disobeying Him. Over time, I convinced myself that God needed my help. Help running my marriage, my friendships, my life.
The longer I pondered Satan’s question, the more reasonable it became. Maybe I did understand parts of Ty that Rachel didn’t. Perhaps Ty did need my emotional support if their marriage was to be successful. Maybe Justin really wouldn’t care that I sneaked out of bed each night to “counsel” Ty over the phone, it being ministry, accountability, community, and all. If the fruit helped our marriages be wise and more like God, why wouldn’t I eat it?
In those moments after hearing Ty’s voice for the last time, alone in my house in the silence of napping children and surrounded by five loads of unfolded clothes, the next sound I heard caught me off guard in every way.
And not just tiny, breathless sighs or a chuckle but hysterical, from the belly, loud enough to wake my kids and throw my feet scissor-kicking in the air kind of laughter.
It sounds horrible, I know. Here I am holding a ticking time bomb that will destroy everyone around me and I’m laughing.
Had anyone else been in the room, I would have felt embarrassed or guilty. But as years of shackles fell to the ground and the weight of secrecy lifted from my shoulders, my heart erupted in such pure freedom that it could not help but spill over with laughter.
Rachel knew the truth. Ty said it was over. Maybe I could finally be free.
The courage to confess my adultery was suddenly forced upon me. I was no longer in control, no longer blind or deceived. My mind was more awake and clear than it had been in years.
I had no idea what life would be like one hour, one week, or one year from this moment. My mind raced in a million directions. Would Justin leave, take our kids, what was Rachel thinking, would she take their kids? All I knew was that life would never be the same. Out of sincere gratitude for that fact, I laughed.
Maybe life could finally make sense now that I wasn’t running it. Now that plates were no longer spinning above my head, I could finally take a good, hard look through all of the broken pieces on the floor.
The lie I pampered and put makeup on and played with in secret could be seen for what it was — fear. Fear I would never be enough, fear no one could love the most honest version of me, fear that I, a devoted church girl, was capable of scandalous, horrible things just like the next girl. Fear that I was exactly who I thought I was — needy.
Most people think that fear is a lack of faith. But it takes great faith to fear. Faith is hoping in something we cannot see. Fear functions in a similar way. When we are scared, it is easy to have faith in the “what if” scenarios we make up in our heads but are not necessarily true. At its core, fear is not lack of faith.
Fear is questioning God’s love for us.
How clever, Satan. We call your bluff. Use God to turn us against him. Distract us just long enough to switch the awe-inspiring fear of God into the pride-inducing fear of man. Use the cloak of godliness to disguise the subtle shift from “God is enough” to “I’m not enough.”
Which leads me back to what God really said…
God really did command Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and warn them that to do so would bring death. But what Eve seemed to forget in her conversation with the serpent was what else God really said. “You are free. Free to eat anything and everything else. Free to create, work, have sex. Free to rest in the life-sustaining peace that because I am God, you don’t have to be.” (See Genesis 2:15-17.)
God really did say that He alone is the measure of all that is true, good, and right in this world. He placed a tree in the middle of our lives to remind us of our mortality and His sovereignty over those attributes. He knew how devastated we would be when our version of truth, goodness, and justice proved to be ever-changing, misunderstood, and packed with impossibly high standards.
So, we remember our freedom tree, the tree of God’s sovereignty, His full command over all created beings. Like Adam and Eve, we’ve been given this one life, our one story, to know and understand God’s grand, eternal purpose — the best story.
So, it’s not enough to say that God uses our lives if He does not also design them.
What God permits, He permits for a reason. And that reason is His design.
Because He didn’t stop it — for me, for you, and for millions of people throughout history — He has a purpose for it. And if we don’t believe our lives are designed and purposed by God, we will waste them.
This is our story — the beginning of our end, when God takes His rightful place as the greatest love of our lives. This is the moment we finally take Him up on his offer to be exactly who He says He is.
Adapted for Faith.Full by Kasey Van Norman from her book Nothing Wasted.
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How has the enemy whispered to you “Did God really say?”? Let’s not waste our lives listening to Him and not doubting that He knows what is best! Come share your thoughts with us on our blog. We want to hear from you! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full