Life Outside of Eden
By: Kristen L. McNulty
Over the last few weeks our world has been brought to our knees by tragedy time and time again. From the Hurricanes that devastated the Caribbean and the Southern US states; to the tragic earthquakes in Mexico; to the terrorist attack in Edmonton; to the unthinkable mass shooting in Las Vegas; lives have been lost and pain has been experienced far and wide.
Pain, in its different faces and forms, is something that each one of us experiences in this life: like physical pain caused by illness or injury, emotional pain and heartache, the pain of loss, the sting of grief- we've all felt pain in one way or another.
But just like physical pain from when we touch a hot stove is a signal to the brain that something is seriously wrong and needs immediate attention, the pain we feel in our lives, as unpleasant as it is, does cause each and every one of us to stop and take notice of our lives.
As 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."
Most of us don't like to hear this because we think we could encounter God without pain, but for most of us that's not the case. Just most people with major illnesses only found out they were sick because they felt pain and went to the doctor to find out why, most of us would never seriously think about God or the life after this one unless pain had come into our lives. Pain stops us in our tracks and highlights both what is important in this life and why we need God to be first and foremost in all we do. Pain is a megaphone that rouses a deaf world.
And while God does use painful experiences in our lives to draw us to Him, I think it's important that we all realize that God didn't introduce pain into our world just as some sort of tactic to bring us back to Him. In fact in God's original plans for our world, pain didn't exist. It only came into the picture when we as humans decided to go our own way.
Flipping back to Genesis in the Bible we get a glimpse of life in the Garden of Eden and we can see Adam and Eve had it made. There was no death, no sickness, no pain. God gave them free and clear access to the tree of everlasting life, which meant they would live forever and the human race would know no such thing as death. God walked among them and they had access to everything they needed and so much more. They lived in complete freedom with no restrictions except for one: God asked them not to eat fruit off of one of the trees and He warned 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 to Adam that if you don't obey me, either this fruit will kill you or I will, kind of thing. But the truth is, God wasn't threatening Adam here, but rather warning him that with sin would come pain, suffering, and yes, even death. Unfortunately Adam and Eve didn't take God's warning seriously and when they sinned they opened up the door for all kinds of pain to take place in our lives.
But God in His mercy and grace gave Adam, Eve and us an incredible gift, and that was after they sinned, he kicked them out of the Garden of Eden. I believe that next to what Christ did for us on the cross, it's one of the greatest gifts God has given us. Because if God hadn't kicked them and us out of 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 take advantage of it. So yes, we wouldn't die, but we would be forever stuck in this fallen world, feeling the side effects of sin with no hope of rescue or escape. Instead God in His mercy gave us a grace-filled plan b. Instead of leaving us to live forever in this fallen and pain-filled world, God removed us from even having the option. He allowed us to die as mortal beings and then sent His Son to die the ultimate death, so that even after we breathe our last breath on this earth, we awaken in paradise with Him, forever free of sin and death and pain and earthquakes and hurricanes and shootings and divorce and cancer and suicide and every consequence or side-effect sin produces.
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 side effect from living in a fallen world and but the amazing thing is, this is not a permanent condition. When you turn to God and accept the free gift that Jesus gives, forgiveness of sin and eternal life with Him, not only will you experience Eden forever after you die, but God will give you the strength and peace and guidance you need to navigate life in this fallen world. So if you haven't already turned to Him and accepted this amazing gift, I beg, I plead with you, don't wait! Right here and right now there's nothing you need to do, you don't need to try and clean up your life, you can approach Him in this very moment and He will accept you and give you His love and His everlasting life.
Christ already did the work by dying on the cross for you, all you need to do now is accept the gift. So wherever you are, I invite you to pray with me and receive the gift. Pray with me:
Dear God, Please forgive me for my sins. I believe that you sent your Son Jesus to die on the cross for my sins. I believe in you and I confess that I am a sinner and ask you to forgive me of my sin and cleanse me. Create in me a new heart and soul. I believe that you are my saviour, help me to live for you as my Lord and God. I know that I have eternal life because of the gift you gave me. Give me strength and peace as I walk through this life for you. In Jesus' name amen.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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