Listen here – read by yours truly

Because of scheduling difficulties our plans to celebrate Thanksgiving in Fort Meyers Florida had to be rearranged. It was shortly after this decision that a hurricane named Ian rearranged Fort Meyers. The devastation is heartbreaking! Aerial footage of the neighborhood where we would have stayed shows only a few houses left standing. The beautiful landscaping is now rubble. Boats, bridges, cottages, restaurants, boutiques, tourist shops – gone. Patio furniture, home furnishings and dishes litter the area like a box of overturned legos. Treasured items and stored memories indiscriminately scattered by the gale or sunk in the sea, the typically delightful side of nature shows herself to be indeed ‘red in tooth and claw’. Storms near the ocean are not unexpected or unusual, but this one proved disastrous for this beautiful town.

This catastrophe made me think of that original garden so carefully envisioned and constructed by God for His friends. How imaginative, splendid, customized and crafted for the beloved inhabitants. How delighted the Benefactor was to enjoy friendship with those He created last, the pinnacle of His efforts and the objects of His affection. “Very good!” The joy and pleasure it must have brought Him, not only to present them with such a magnificent treasure, but to stroll with them in the cool of the day savoring all the intimacies a walk with friends brings. I personally believe that the first couple possessed perception and intellect far above what we experience now in our fallen condition, so one can only speculate the soul connection they shared with their Creator-Friend. Imagine walking alone with the creator of the entire universe. Consider conversing and sharing ideas – perhaps plans for renovation, or discussions of ethereal realities reflected by matter and nature. There was openness, transparency, innocence, inquisitiveness, and fellowship with no hidden fear or agenda. Until there wasn’t. God’s intention for His precious companions was questioned, suspected, and rejected. His character was distrusted and the integrity of their relationship was lost, affecting even the physical realm formed by necessity to sustain the material side of these new hybrid creatures. Now all was sliding towards darkness, brokenness, suffering, separation, division, enmity, and ultimately death. Life was the rejected choice. The alternative was cloaked in the promise of transcendent reality, but it was an illusion proposed by a venomously envious spiritual rival. They were tricked, yes, but nevertheless they had torn the fabric of the universe and initiated steady disintegration and ultimate destruction.

How heartbreaking for the One Who had been so thoughtful, so intentional, so careful to provide and protect. The devastation was clear to Him whose perception reached far beyond the immediacy of the newly discovered nakedness of His betrayers. He saw the aftermath of Hurricane Lucifer on every single one of the precious souls who would subsequently bear His image, their spirit side deadened and suppressed by the heredity of unbelief and distrust baked into the DNA of Adam’s offspring. God foresaw the groaning and disintegration of nature and its innocent components created for Adam and Eve’s enjoyment and pronounced ‘good’. The natural world’s fate was tied to Adam’s in a way which our science does not yet understand but is beginning to hint at. God’s aerial view of the wreckage revealed progressive ruin unless there was radical interference. Why intervene? Why not just start over? What could He possibly see in this self inflicted demolition that would prompt His rescue?

I wonder. Did He say “If only I had not given them free will?” Why did He not say “Let’s try again?” Why did He say “I will make this right although it will cost Me everything?” I have no answer except perhaps that this is what is meant when Jesus says “Only God is good.” Goodness could not be better expressed than by the choice God made then and there to clothe the embarrassed traitors and promise them redemption – restoration of all that was lost to an even higher plane. This was not His response to the angels that fell. There was no magic wand. Restoration would take time, sacrifice, suffering and resolve. Yes, we caused God to suffer. We tend to forget that and blame Him for the epic aftermath of our attempted self rule. Reversal had to come from within the transgressing race itself, and humankind had proven incapable. His solution was outrageous, unimaginable, shaking celestial protocol. The angels are still curious! He would enter the race to undo the curse.

So He limited Himself not only to a constricted human form, but to additional restrictions of poverty and disregard. He did not become an attractive human, but a misunderstood despised one. His message, however, was powerful and His miracles validated His claim to be the long awaited Messiah. Surprisingly to most He did not bring the expected political liberation! The Jews had limited the cosmic intentions of God to mere national prominence. (Sound familiar?) Unflinchingly He stayed His excruciating course without leaning on His divinity. The cross tore the lie of God’s ‘intention to withhold’ into bits, tore the temple curtain from top to bottom reopening direct fellowship with our loving Creator – if we will have it. It tore the weapon of death from our enemy’s hands and offered restored connection with the Life-giver to all who will choose it. Our free will intact, our damage undone, an invitation extended. His pain – our gain.

Fearing such exquisite love we, like our ancestors, shrink back into doubt and guilt. He continually invites, anxious to receive even the feeblest faltering response, delighted to reconstruct the soul ravaged by lies and illusion. His love for us, undeserved on our part, is relentless on His. To ignore, minimize, trivialize or resist such a magnanimous overture invites hell. Justify that refusal as we may – and there are many ways – there is no escaping the repercussions. Ask Adam and Eve!