Monday, March 02, 2009


I’m not what most people would consider a compassionate person. Our precious daughters learned early in life that when they were sick and throwing up, it was their father who gently dabbed their forehead with a cool cloth and cooed over them while they hung over the porcelain throne. I was all about the mission. Get the bucket by the bed, the 7-up and crackers, change the sheets, etc. Obviously, all of the above is necessary. We simply recognized our giftedness areas early on. So when our family moved to seminary (picture at right), and our third-story apartment was two floors above a ranting, maniacal mother, who threatened each afternoon before naps, “I can’t take it anymore!” – my compassionate response was, “Neither can I, so shut up!” Of course, I didn’t actually say that to the poor, dear woman. (Can you see why I didn’t go into counseling?) The first time she said it, I looked out the window to see if she had a gun or if she might try something desperate. But her children continued their antics, and she kept flipping burgers on the grill, screaming at the top of her lungs. As our months of seminary drug on, the same declaration became this woman’s daily mantra. I realized that she could indeed “take more” – and chose to. But it occurred to me that perhaps her words expressed something deeper. (Those of you with a little compassion are saying, “Duh, Mesu!”) I began chatting with her on occasion and in a short time, she revealed much of the pain carried in the desperate sentence she shouted to the world. You see, that’s what words are – simply vessels that carry messages. As a listener, I must hold the vessel of words up to the Light to see if the messages they carry hold greater meaning than the simple container in which they’re packaged. Oftentimes, God’s messages are so vast that our small 26-letter alphabet has a difficult time carrying His deeper meaning. So it was when the curses were levied…

Gen. 3:14-15 – “So the LORD God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.’”
  • The immediate message compels snakes to slither forever. We might even be able to argue that snakes were cursed to aggression toward humans and humans given dominion over them. However, God’s deeper meaning has nothing to do with a snake’s anatomy or how I conquer one with my shovel. The enmity between the woman’s offspring and Satan’s offspring is a picture of the Cross of Christ and foreshadows the crucifixion (Satan striking Christ’s heel, hanging on the Cross) and the Resurrection (Jesus Christ crushing the power of death, which is Satan’s hope to steal God’s children). Even when humankind failed in the beginning, God had already planned our victorious ending.

Gen. 3:16 – “To the woman he said, ‘I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.’”

  • The immediate message says it’s gonna hurt like the dickens to deliver a baby! (And that’s no small message!) The deeper meaning is of great debate, but here’s what the Lord has laid on my heart. When the woman used her influence to draw her husband into sin, God cursed that portion of the male/female relationship. I believe the “Nag Factor” falls under the curse. I’m sure all husbands will agree, but wives stay with me here. And those of you not married, this affects you as well. Women continually want MORE from men. They want more respect, better compensation, more affection, better understanding – for crying out loud, just take out the trash more! More. But from the beginning of time, men have been in positions of influence over women, saying, “I refuse – or I can’t – or I don’t think it’s necessary – to give more.” The curse for a woman runs deeper than pain at the end of nine months. It’s constant discontentment at the discretion of one who has been placed in a position of authority over her from the beginning of time. The only remedy is finding contentment in and through the Spirit of God – married or unmarried.

Gen. 3:17-19 – “To Adam he said, ‘Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, “You must not eat of it,” Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.’”

  • The immediate message says Adam got in trouble for listening to his wife and not listening to God, so he’s doomed to plucking weeds for the rest of his earthly life – which will end in death because of his sin, by the way. The deeper message says, “Though you’ve chosen death, I still offer you life.” God consistently offers life in all three curses: 1) though the snake would strike his heel, the woman will have offspring; 2) though the woman will have pain and frustration, she will bear children; and 3) though humankind can no longer pluck plump, ripe fruit from trees God provided (Gen. 2:16), they can work the ground for food.

Gen. 3:20 – “Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.”

  • I don’t know about you, but if I was Adam, her name might have been Mud! But Adam’s compassionate naming of his wife tells me he learned the compassion of God’s judgment. It tells me he was able to receive God’s discipline and God’s grace because the true test of receiving grace is giving grace.

Lord, sometimes I become so discouraged by my own or others’ sins that it’s hard to receive or give grace. I become so focused on the downfall, I miss Your upswing. You are a God of deeper meaning. Even Your judgments go deeper than discipline – to finding the joy and redemption of life. Never let me settle for the immediate messages I see in Your Word. Take me deeper…

1 comment:

Nancy said...

I love the retro photo!