Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Where's the Calamine Lotion?

Where’s the Calamine Lotion?
by Judy Vandiver

Earlier this year, Steve and I began a landscaping project for our backyard. This past weekend, we put some of the finishing touches on the project. The garden area is small, but relaxing, and a great place for morning devotions. As I sat outside this morning, enjoying the garden, I felt peaceful and close to God. My mind began to wander (it does that a lot) to Adam and Eve and to the closeness they had with God in their private garden.

I’m sure that in the beginning the garden was more relaxing than anything we can imagine. Banishment from this special haven must have been devastating. Let’s take a look back at what happened.

Satan tempted Eve by telling her she would be like God. Genesis 3:6-7 states:

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. (NIV)

The sin of Eve and her husband came about because they wanted to be like God. There was nothing wrong with that desire. But, they went about it in the wrong way. When they ate the fruit, they suddenly had their eyes opened. The first thing they saw was their nakedness. Two definitions of naked are: devoid of customary or natural covering and devoid of concealment or disguise.

The original couple, in the original garden, guilty of original sin, were devoid of the covering of innocence they had once enjoyed. They immediately hatched a plan to re-conceal themselves.

I imagine Eve inventing a new craft—sewing. She did not have a fancy sewing machine. She had never taken a home-economics class. But, she had to figure out a solution to her problem, and she needed to do it quick.

God saw everything as it happened. He saw Satan tempt Eve. He heard Eve give her reasons why they shouldn’t eat the fruit. He saw Eve as her hand reached forth. He probably even saw the juice of the fruit as it ran down her chin.

God watched as Eve offered the fruit to Adam. He saw Adam join Eve in her sin as he also ate of the fruit. There it was. God had caught them red-handed. He had his evidence. He could confront them now. But do you know what God did? He waited. 

I don’t know how long God waited, but it was long enough for these two earthlings to contemplate their situation (their nakedness), formulate a solution (fig leaf clothing), and physically carry out their plan (sewing the leaves together).

Can’t you hear their conversation? It may have gone something like this:

Eve:        Adam, go put some clothes on. You’re naked!
Adam:    In a minute dear. Oh, Eve—what are clothes?
Eve:        Well, I don’t really know, but I’m sure we can make some.
Adam:    How are we going to do that, dear Eve?
Eve:        Don’t be silly. We’ll sew the clothes, dear Adam, dear Adam.
Adam:    With what shall we sew them, dear Eve, dear Eve?
Eve:        With thread, dear Adam, dear Adam.
Adam:    Thread? What’s thread?

Well anyway, you get the idea. And while this little scenario was played out, God watched and continued to wait.

I wondered what was He waiting for? I believe God’s waiting was all about timing. He could have stopped Eve before she took the fruit. His booming voice could have bellowed from the heavens and said something like, “Thou shalt not eat of the fruit of the Tree of Good and Evil.” But then He had already told them that.

I don’t know about you, but whenever I told my children, “Thou shalt not,” they were even more determined that they “shalt.” Matter of fact, when my mom used to tell me “Thou Shalt Not,” I shalted. I remember one time when I was about 9 or 10. We visited my aunt and uncle in the country. They had a beautiful tree in the yard and it was loaded with yellow, shiny, gorgeous pears. Mother said, “Thou shalt not eat that fruit.”

One of my cousins said she had eaten one of the pears and it had been good. Mother had gone into the house. She couldn’t see us. She would never know. So, we ate. They weren’t the best pears I had ever eaten, but we decided Mother didn’t know what she was talking about. And we ate some more pears. It wasn’t long before those not-quite-ripe-yet pears began to have an effect on us.
Mother didn’t have to scold us or remind us what she had told us. We were already painfully aware that she had been right.

God could have bellowed out “Thou Shalt Not,” at any moment. But He had already told them that. I’m not sure it probably would have done any good at this point to repeat Himself.

God could have confronted Adam and Eve immediately when they were stunned by their nakedness. What was He waiting for?

I believe He waited long enough for several things to happen. First, He gave Adam and Eve time to realize their sin and their nakedness themselves. Note: their nakedness was not their sin, but only the outward evidence of their sin. God let what they had done sink in. It’s one thing to be told you did wrong and it’s another thing all together to “know” you did wrong. God was waiting for them to “know” it.

Next, God waited long enough for them to try to fix the problem themselves. They came up with this brilliant solution with the fig leaves. When I read that, I want to say, “Duh!” Have you ever picked figs? I have. Those fig leaves get scratchy and if any juice from the figs gets on you, you will itch and ask for the calamine lotion.

So God waited while they sewed their little fig leaves together. When they had completed their masterpiece, and just about the time they started scratching, God had waited long enough. God entered the Garden.  

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?” He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” (Genesis 3:8-10) (NIV)

Now Adam and Eve had fixed their little problem. They were no longer naked. They have these great outfits made from scratchy fig leaves. Why, then, do they run and hide when they hear God coming?

I believe they hid for the same reasons we try to hide today. Because no amount of fig leaves could hide their nakedness from God. The nakedness wasn’t on the outside. It was on the inside. God could see the nakedness and emptiness—the barrenness of their hearts.

We can dress ourselves up on the outside, say the right things, wear the right things, and to the world “do” the right things. But our hearts are still bare and naked to God. We still “know” our sins and so does our God.

God doesn’t always rush in to condemn us. Sometimes He lets us realize our dilemma on our own. He lets us try to work out our own solutions, which can often be more disastrous than itchy fig leaves. Then, when God comes, He doesn’t bellow. He comes softly in the cool of the evening, like a gentle breeze and softly asks, “Where are you? Where are you?”

God knew where Adam and Eve were. He knows where we are today. Yet He gently asks, “Where are you?” Adam and Eve had to come before God in their nakedness, in their shoddy attempt at clothing. God spelled out the consequences of their acts. Then He made them new clothes from animal skins. These kinds weren’t as itchy. 

When we come to God, we have to confess our sins to Him and we must still face the consequences of our sins. But God clothes us with a new garment, one from animal skin. This garment was created because God’s most precious lamb spilled his blood for you and me.

Adam and Eve were no longer in the Paradise God created for all mankind, but still God did not forsake them or leave them.

God does not leave us alone today. He still sees us. He still comes and asks, “Where are you?” What fig leaves have you created? What are you hiding behind? Come forward and let God clothe you with the Lamb.

Personal study questions:

What fruit have you eaten that, like the pears on my uncle’s tree, have made you ill?
What nakedness have you tried to hide from God?
What fig leaves have you created? What solutions of your own making have you tried to apply to your life?
Just as Adam and Eve sewed fig leaves together, how have you tried to carry out your plans?
God asked Adam and Eve, “Where are you?” Contemplate this question spiritually. Where are you in God’s plan for your life? Where are you in your spiritual walk?

In the Garden – copyright 2009 by Judy Vandiver

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