“Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground — trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Genesis 2:8-9
“The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” Genesis 2:15-17
Each year our church joins several other churches in the Willamette Valley for a week of prayer and fasting sometime during the month of January. Tomorrow we will end our week of prayer and fasting and I’m eager to hear about other’s experiences. I confess to a love/hate relationship with this week. Without fail each time that I’ve fasted and prayed I’ve experienced answered prayer or some insight into me or the Lord. That’s the part I love along with the fact that, in general, I feel better when I’m fasting. The part I hate is going to bed hungry and the realization of how wimpy I am – fasting is hard!
This year God has clearly shown me that I am a lover of comfort. I’m not proud of that fact, but I have to own it. He also showed me how easy it is for me to allow that one thing I can’t have, the one thing I really want, to overshadow every other good blessing of my life – to cast it all into darkness.
I relate to Adam and Eve. I’ve been schooled to think that their big sin in the garden was pride – wanting to be like God. I do think that pride was part of it, but I think even more it was a sin of ingratitude. Adam and Eve were given everything they needed in the most beautiful garden ever created. They had purposeful employment as caretakers of this beautiful garden. They had each other, a loving gift from the God of all relationship, and best of all they had intimate friendship and partnership with God. God even brought the animals to Adam to see what he would name them! I think that is amazing.
But it wasn’t enough. God gave one directive, the command to NOT eat of the tree in the middle of the garden, and it became their undoing. The command was protective not proscriptive. The innocent Adam and Eve lived in a perfect place with everything they needed. Their best friend was also their most powerful protector. They need not worry about evil, they could trust their God, but that whole ‘if I can’t have it, then I want it’ mentality took over. When the serpent tempted Eve he made it seem like God withheld the best tree in the world with the best fruit. Eve bit and the rest is history.
How sad for them and for all of us. Sin and death entered the world. Banishment and pain came between Adam and Eve and the God they had loved and enjoyed so much. And you know what? I’m certain that I would’ve done just what Eve did. The saddest thing about it to me is that Eve chose to listen to a voice that clearly said the opposite of what the voice she loved had said to Adam. She listened to lies instead of life. She grew blind to the abundant blessings she freely enjoyed and she listened to lies.
Satan was then and is now the great deceiver. This year’s fast has taught me to live in gratitude and to savor all of the blessings God has poured out on me. I choose to listen to the voice of God, to receive His gifts with gratitude and to ignore that old deceiver when He tries to get me to focus on what I don’t have. With God’s help I choose to fast from ingratitude – permanently!
“From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.” John 1:16