Life Outside of Eden
By: Kristen L. McNulty
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It was a busy Friday for me. I had a lot of running around to do that day because I was set to attend a wedding the very next day and still hadn't picked up an outfit and handled all of those last minute details.
The day started fine. I got up early and was on schedule until suddenly I almost doubled over in pain. It didn't last long so I continued to try and go about my day only to have repeated attacks that slowed me down. At home, at the shopping center, while getting my hair cut, I kept getting these attacks and it was during the attack right around supper time that I remembered something I was taught in health class: pain is a signal from your body to your brain that something is wrong and so I decided to get checked out.
I called the after hours clinic, which ironically was closed even though it was "after hours" so I ended up going to the Emergency Room. Six hours and many tests later the doctor still couldn't figure out what the pain was and sent me home.
I arrived home in the middle of the night bitter and angry. I hadn't accomplished all that I intended to that day and as a result of going to the hospital I was going to be attending the wedding very short on sleep. I couldn't understand why I would feel this type of pain for no apparent reason.
It wasn't until almost a month later that I found out the reason behind the pain- I had a large cyst growing in me. Suddenly I was thankful for what seemed to be a major inconvienence because if the doctors hadn't found out about the cyst, it could have created huge problems for me down the road. There was a reason for the pain.
I'm not the only one who has ever experienced pain. In fact, I'd dare say that everyone listening right now has experienced pain in some form or another: physical pain caused by illness or injury, emotional pain and heartache, the pain of loss, the sting of grief- we've all felt these things in one way or another and let's face it- it's not usually an enjoyable experience. And even though pain obviously hurts, there is a reason for it.
C.S. Lewis once wrote: "God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world." You see, evidence that there is something greater can be seen in a sunset or in the ocean crashing against the shore when someone takes the time to look, but all too often we don't look. We live our lives oblivious to the fact that we're missing the big picture. We build our houses, buy our cars, only to build bigger houses and buy better cars and all the while ignore the fact that there is a God out there.
But when we experience pain, that's when we realize that there is seriously something wrong with this world. In pain we see the reality that we a really very small in comparison to our world and even smaller in comparison to God. Pain makes us stop in our tracks and acknowledge the pursuit of the fact that there has to be something more. Pain is a megaphone that rouses a deaf world.
Just like I would have never found out that I had a cyst unless I felt such severe pain, most people never even think about God or the afterlife until pain comes into their lives. Pain is a warning sign that something isn't quite right and pain makes us all long for something more. Something better. Someone bigger.
But pain doesn't exist only to draw us to God. No, in fact pain is a result of the distance we've placed between God and ourselves. You see when Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden, life was great. God walked amongst them and they had access to everything that they needed and so much more. In return for this amazing gift, God left them with only one instruction- He asked them not to eat fruit off of one of the trees and told Adam that if they did, they would surely die.
When I first read this verse, I took it as a death threat. Basically God saying that either this fruit will kill you or I will kind of thing, but know I can see the truth. God wasn't threatening Adam, but rather warning Him that with sin came pain, suffering, and yes, even death. Adam didn't listen and as a result opened up the door for all kinds of unpleasant things to take place in our lives.
As a result of Adam's sin, both Adam and Eve were banished from their wonderful world of Eden and forced to live outside of its splendor. And I think in that lies one of the greatest gifts that God has ever given us. You see, if we still lived in Eden we would still have access to the tree of everlasting life and let's face it, if you or I ever had access to such a tree, we'd certainly take advantage of it. No one wants to die and something like that creates a way out. Knowing this, God didn't leave the option open because He didn't want for us to live in a fallen and painful state forever. Instead, He allowed for us to become mortal beings and sent His son to the world to die for our sins and make a way for us to have a life forever free from the consequences of our sins.
That's love and that's exactly what Christ did for us when He died on the cross. Jesus didn't die to become some sort of religious figure or martyr only for being a martyr's sake. He died because He couldn't stand the thought of any of us missing out on an eternity free from pain, suffering, and death. Today we experience pain as a consequence to our sin and yes, it does wake people up to the existence of God. But in eternity we can be free from that suffering and so today the question I want to ask you is where are you going to spend eternity?
If you don't know the answer to that question, then let me ask you, who are you trusting in to get you to heaven? So many of us trust only in ourselves and it's a complete waste of time. You see, our sin has created a huge gap between us and God. Many people spend there entire lives attempting to build a bride to cross that gap with their own righteousness, only to find out in the end that they couldn't bridge the gap on their own. We don't need to build any bridges because there has already been one built for all of us through Christ, the question is- are you going to walk across it?
If you'd like to accept Jesus' gift, I invite you to pray this prayer with me:
I am a sinner. I know that on my own I can't get to heaven and so I'd like to accept your gift of eternal life. Thank you for dying for my sins.
I invite you to come into my life and help me to walk in Your ways. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit and be with me each day of my life.
In Your name I pray.
If you just prayed that prayer, congratulations. The Bible says heaven's having a party because all of heaven rejoices when one sinner repents. If you have prayed this prayer with me, I'd love to hear from you and send you some free stuff to help you grow in your faith. Send an email to email@example.com.
This devotional was aired as a part of the Making A Difference Christian Radio Show.