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June 13 | Genesis 3:1-13, 21-24


 

DAILY READING


 

REFLECTION


O That We Would Not Go Our Own Way

by Dan Kidd


If I let him, my 3 year-old son would spend pretty much his whole day sitting on the blue chair in the middle of our family room with his eyes fixed on the TV, watching any number of cartoons, munching on various snacks (none of them particularly healthy) and drinking chocolate milk. Left to his own preferences, left to do what felt right to him, his would be a life of sitting, snacking, and cartoon-watching. And, if I'm perfectly honest, I get it. To some extent, spending a day (or several) sitting in a comfortable chair with no agenda, an endless catalog of great stories to dive into that flash across my screen in vibrant colors, professionally acted for my viewing pleasure; eating and drinking whatever would taste best to me at the time, sounds great. There would be worse ways to spend a day. But that's not a life lived well for any number of reasons. And that's not the life I want for my son either.


Which is why, despite his tearful sulking, we deny him what he thinks he most wants to do (mentioned above) and force him to leave his chair to go to school to be with his friends, come to the park, to see his grandparents and his cousins, to see his UALC family, to play with his soccer ball in the yard or his chalk in the driveway. Instead of watching TV all day, we read books with him, and play with play-doh, we draw or paint, or go for walks, or put on costumes, or play any number of silly games with the fleet of toys he has in his basement. Instead of eating the sugary and salty snacks he would make a diet of (and I do understand), we feed him vegetables and fruit, grains, cheese, and whatever it is they use to make those vegetarian nuggets (in addition to a few snacks here and there). This variety of places, activities, and food are better for him than the few things he would choose to do for himself. We, his parents, know the difference because of our lived experiences that occasionally get turned into wisdom, by God's grace.


But we aren't that wise. Left to my own devices, there's any number of other unhealthy, lifeless, selfish, meaningless, and even rebellious things I will do with myself. And, as it turns out, the Biblical witness tells me I'm no alone in this. In today's passage we see the first instance where a human, the woman not-yet-named Eve, is tempted with eating from a tree that will provide her the opportunity to decide for herself what is good and what is bad. The Lord created humanity in order to be near to God's self. They had everything they needed, plenty of things to attend to and profound access to the One from whom all wisdom and goodness flows. And yet, for some reason, when the woman considered for herself (instigated by the crafty, accusing serpent) whether she would eat from every other tree in the garden, and lean entirely into the wisdom of the Creator of everything and the source of all wisdom, she decided instead that she wanted to do what was right in her own eyes. And oh how I wish I didn't understand her completely!


As we continue our study in the book of Psalms, this theme is going to come up again and again for us; the theme of doing what is wise--relying on the way and will of the Lord--or doing what is foolish and wicked--that is, doing what is right in our own eyes. These are the paths described in Psalm 1. And we might be tempted reading Psalm 1 to think that all there is to avoiding the paths of the wicked is that we simply be good people doing good things. But the truth is, as much as I don't want to relate to the woman who would be called Eve in this story, I am inexplicably still prone to wander, leave the God I love, and even to rebel against him. What's worse, the rules don't help that much. The Lord's people had tons of instructions, books full of laws, and between all these laws are stories about how they failed to live up to them.


This all sounds very disappointing. But here's the good news: We can know wisdom, because we have profound access to the source of all wisdom. The Holy Spirit, the very same Spirit that hovered over the waters before the world was created, and the very same Spirit that lived in and empowered Jesus, lives in us. And even as we are still prone to wander, to do what is right in our own eyes, we have the presence and power of the Lord who convicts us, transforms us, and puts to death what we were and resurrects us anew. When we fight against the law we suffer. When we do what we think is right, whenever it leaves the bounds of God's will and wisdom, we will get ourselves lost and snagged in the brambles. This is why we meditate day and night, not on the list of rules the Lord gave us, but on the wisdom and instruction of the Lord who created life and gifted us with it. As we imagine the world as God designed it, the Spirit uses this vision to guide us towards the Lord's Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven.


PRAYER

Lord, though we are prone to wander, and to rebel, keep us near to you. We long to know your wisdom, to walk in your ways, in step with your Spirit. As often as we are tempted to do what seems right to us, if it is not right with you, let your will be done over ours. Fill us with a hunger for you and all that you would have for us, for our neighbors, and for all of your creation. Restore us to the humans you've created us to be, and lead us far from the temptations of waywardness, instead on the paths of thriving, hope, and love. Amen.














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