10 Years Later

Cain and Abel“And so ‘Being’ threw dad out of paradise because he didn’t follow the rules perfectly.”

Seth, being only 5 years old, gasped and leaned back in fear wondering how he’ll ever be able to do what’s right in the eyes of ‘Being’.

“’Being’ was so upset, he cursed the ground so that we’d have to work really hard to grow things. Trust me, I know, I spend all day working very hard for our food to grow, and it isn’t easy.”

Seth responds tentatively, “But… but Abel says that ‘Being’ loves us very much! How could ‘Being’ love us, but also make life so hard for us?”

“That is simply the way of ‘Being’. For instance, I try just as hard as Abel to speak with ‘Being’, but I don’t feel anything, and Abel feels everything. He says he can talk to it, but I’m not sure I believe him, I think he’s making it all up.”

Having heard the last sentence Abel understands what’s going on, it’s not the first time. What is he ever going to be able to do to convince Cain that it’s not ‘Being’ that isn’t speaking, but rather Cain who has shut himself off?

He speaks up, “Cain! Stop filling our brothers head with your jealousy!

“Seth, don’t listen to him, ‘Being’ does love us very much. So much so, that It wants us to work so we can have a purpose. That’s why it takes effort to bring food, because if it was too easy, we wouldn’t appreciate the beauty and bounty that ‘Being’ has given to us. This is why we must always remember to thank ‘Being’ for everything we have, because we would have nothing without It.”

Cain rolls his eyes, “Oh please! It’s not ‘Being’ that brings our food, it’s my sweat! I don’t see It out there tilling the soil every year, or making sure the plants get water when it doesn’t rain!”

“Without ‘Being’ there wouldn’t be any rain to begin with! Rain is a blessing, just as growth is a blessing, just as having brothers is a blessing! Life itself is our greatest gift, and we should not spend it trying to scare each other.

“Seth, you know how I take care of the sheep and goats?”

“Yeah” Seth nods.

“Well, I see the miracle of birth every year, and I can tell you that I had nothing to do with that! That’s ‘Being’ creating life right before our eyes! Just like you my little brother, were created by ‘Being’. You are a miracle too!”

Seth’s eyes open wide with excitement, “Wow, really!?”

“No!” Cain interjects,

“If you were a miracle than you would be helping me tend the fields rather than sitting around with mother all day long listening to songs and playing with toys!”

Looking crossly at Cain Abel says, “Again, don’t believe the words of fear spoken by our brother Seth, he’s just jealous that he can’t be sitting next to mother instead of out in the field.”

Cain blurts, “What would you know about it sheep herder! Like you’ve worked a day in your life! All you do is sit there and watch the animals eat grass while you play on your flute, or hum stupid songs! I’m the only one around here that does any real work! ‘Being’ has cursed me I tell you! Gah! I’m done with you, I have real work to do anyway!”

Abel kneels down to look his brother in the eye, “Seth, I want you to be very careful about listening to Cain. I am concerned that fear has eaten away at his heart. According to dad, fear is there to help us do the right thing, but I think that Cain has lived so long with it inside him that he’s losing himself, and has lost his connection to ‘Being’. I love him so much, I hope he’ll reconcile his hurt with ‘Being’ soon.”

Seth, not quite understanding what Abel is saying, and knowing he’s talking more to himself, still wants to know, “What’s Cain afraid of?”

“I don’t know, Ach Qatan. Sometimes I think he’s so afraid of being rejected by ‘Being’ that he’s rejected ‘Being’ first to avoid the possibility.”

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So many people have Cain in their hearts. They become so afraid of not being good enough for God that they reject him simply so they won’t have to deal with the assumed reality. This is not healthy. One of the greatest gifts of knowing God as a God of love is that He will never reject us, no matter what we think of Him.

Yes, sometimes God feels distant, but He’s not. There is a recent song on the radio which talks about how now that the lights are on, you can know that I was never gone. This is what fear does to us, it blinds us to truth, blinds us to love. There is a point when we have embraced fear so strongly, and so completely, that we don’t want to let it go because to do so would admit we have wasted so much time embracing it, but you need to let it go.

Pray to God right now, open your arms to Him, forgive yourself for what you have felt toward Him and know that He forgives you. Your sins have already been forgiven, rise and go in peace. Live the love that was first given to you. God Bless.

And It Was Imperfect

Image“In the beginning there was only ‘being’, like I began to tell you before. There wasn’t really a ‘me’, only a perception of existing both together and yet separate from ‘being’. There were also others there, other existences, as if all that lives here and more were all there. However, I didn’t have a mind. I couldn’t really think of myself, or really think at all. I was simply, aware. Are you following me so far?”

By this time, Cain has begun to fall asleep leaning over on his father’s leg, but Abel is still bright eyed. Abel says, “So, it was kind of like where I was when I was in mom’s body?”

“I suppose you could put it like that. We were in the womb of ‘being’. Now, let me ask you this, do you think you would have wanted to stay forever inside your mother’s belly?”

Abel laughs a little, and then settles to think for a moment and replies, “I don’t think so. At first I imagine I would be happy, but eventually I would want out so I could play with Cain, or give you a hug.”

“Precisely my son, so it was in ‘being’. We could have been happy there for a long time, and we were. I have no idea how long we were there simply existing in paradise. However, eventually ‘Being’ felt that it was important that we experience existence on our own. That is why it created this world, and our bodies, minds, and hearts. We didn’t do anything wrong, we didn’t get kicked out. It was more like being led out slowly, with ‘Being’ holding our hands, teaching us to walk, showing us the world and what it means to feel and love.

“It was ‘Being’ who first revealed your mother to me, and showed me what it means to love her. It simply told me that I should treat and feel about her, the way that it felt about me.

“I said to ‘Being’ (Now by said I don’t mean literally, it was more of a feeling) ‘How else could I possibly treat her? It is all I know’

“And you know what it said to me? It said, ‘This is why I have brought you here, so that you might learn what it is to love. However, to learn to love, you must also learn what it is to hate. To learn right you must learn what it is to do wrong. I have created you with a most marvelous gift, the freedom to think and to choose, to leave and to stay. It is time for you to grow up, but know that I will always be with you, within you, as you are within me.”

Abel looks intently at his father and says, “Yes, I remember, it is inside me where the love goes.”

“Yes, my son, and it will never leave you, no matter what. ‘Being’ loves us so much that there is nothing we could ever do to make it stop loving us. This is called unconditional love. Love under every possible condition, no matter how evil or how good.”

“So… ‘Being’ pushed you out of Paradise, so that you would be capable of loving on your own? And enable to love; you needed to have knowledge of good and evil, so that you could choose love, because love can’t exist without a choice. For instance, I can’t force Cain to love me, because if I did, it wouldn’t really be love?”

A tear begins to shine in Abel’s father’s eye as he says, “Yes, yes, and yes, my son. Isn’t it so beautiful? In all of our anger, all of our wrongs, jealousy, and hatred, there is always love, there is always ‘Being’. He made us perfect like this, perfectly imperfect. He loves us perfectly just the way we are, whether we yell and scream, or sit quietly and wait.”

Abel looks confused for a second before asking, “So what’s the point of doing good then? It ‘Being’ loves us no matter what, why do we need to please him?”

Smiling a little Abel’s father says, “For the same reason that you want to do what makes your mother and I proud of you, and happy. It completes you. You were made to find joy and wholeness in honoring ‘Being’, and when you don’t honor it, you feel distant from it, and lonely.

“Trust me, I know. One time your mother was trying to convince me to eat some fruit that she had tried, but I had been frightened by a serpent earlier and was in no mood to try new things so I yelled at her. Oh son, just the look on her face, I knew that I had not honored ‘Being’ with my behavior and I felt awful. I needed to repent to her and to ‘Being’ for dishonoring them both an withholding my love from them. It is so important that we never forget this simple truth, that ‘Being’ loves us always, that we were put here to honor it, and that when we don’t, we dishonor it, ourselves, and each other in ways we don’t quite understand.”

“I think I understand father, I will endeavor in all my ways to honor you and mother, and Cain, and especially ‘Being’, because that is my purpose isn’t it?”

“Yes, but also your purpose is to sleep! We have much work to do in the morning, and this talk has been quite exhausting, as the snores coming from your brother can attest to! Ha!”

And so the two put the fire out together, and Cain’s father carried him to his bed, and tucked him in. Visiting Abel once before heading to bed himself, Abel’s father whispers, “I love you.”

It was on this night, the very first telling of how this family came to be, that the first two separate images of God were born. The first, a rough and tumble man who might push you out of paradise at the slightest infraction, and the second, a kind and loving father who would stop at nothing to care for his children. God loved both visions that His children had for Him, but He did hope that the loving persona would someday win out over the angry one. Just in case, He began to hatch a great plan…

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One of the hardest things for Christians to accept is that the Bible was written by humans. The Bible is a book representing who God was perceived to be by the ancient Hebrew people. This means that their experiences, their theology, and their lives dictated and shaped who God was, and what He behaved like to them. This does not mean that the Bible is not the place to go to experience who God is, it simply means you should read it through this lens. That the person who wrote the words that you read when you read scripture was flesh and blood just like you, with a family just like you, and worries just like you. Those words are there thoughts on God, and they are brilliant, and frightening, and wonderful, and horrible. However, what they aren’t, because no human or human creation is, is perfect. 

There Was Paradise…

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“Now, to answer your original question, why is there sadness? I want you to reach out and put your hand near the flames.”

Cain seems hesitant for a moment, and then gently reaches his hand toward the fire until it gets uncomfortably warm and then stops.

“Why did you stop your hand?”

Cain pulls his hand back, looks at it closely, and responds, “Because I was afraid that it would burn me.”

“Ah, and would you consider fear to be a happy emotion or a sad emotion?”

“Definitely a sad emotion, I didn’t like it at all!”

“So, does that answer your question?”

Cain stares at his hand for a little while, then slowly looks up, afraid of admitting it, but eventually says, “nuh-uh”.

“What about you Abel? Why is there fear? A sad emotion?”

Abel contemplates for a minute before responding, “I suppose that fear exists to keep us from hurting ourselves, it keeps us from becoming sad when we do something wrong, and so even though fear is a sad emotion, it also keeps sadness away. In that case, sadness exists to help us avoid sadness?”

“Ooo, just ponder the conclusion you just made a moment. Sadness exists, we feel sadness when we see death, feel pain, or hurt each other. We do not want to feel sadness, so we avoid activities or behaviors that encourage sadness in ourselves. It is quite ingenious! That is ‘being’, always five steps ahead!

“Even more, sadness, because it keeps us from doing wrong, is a part of what we’ve come to call, ‘the knowledge of good and evil’. ‘Being’ gave us our response to sadness so we would know when something is wrong. ‘Being’ also gave us happiness so we might know when something is good.”

While his father explained this last part, there was born in Cain’s eye a twinkle of challenge, something about this didn’t sit quite right. When he perceived space enough to speak, he blurted out, “But what about when sadness feels good? Like crying? Or when I feel happy that I got an answer right that Abel didn’t? Are those things good and evil too?”

Smiling wide his father responds, “My little challenger, my ‘opposer’, always the first to point out what doesn’t make sense to you.” Ruffling Cain’s hair, his father says, “You are right my son, sometimes sadness feels good, and besting our friends does also, but my question to you is, ‘Are those really the cause of the feeling, or is it something deeper?

“Think of it this way, did you feel good crying when you fell and scraped your knee yesterday?”

“No! It hurt!”

“So you cried because you were in pain, but did crying help you to feel better?”

Cain thinks hard for a moment, “Yeah, I think so. I cried the hurt away… But I wasn’t sad, I was just hurt… and the crying helped…

“So… crying doesn’t automatically mean sadness?”

“Yes! Very good! So, crying can be good, and crying doesn’t mean sadness. Now let’s ask the same question about your second point. Is it really happiness you feel when you best your brother at something?”

“Yes!” Cain blurts out automatically, but his father looks at him long enough that he begins to feel there might be more to it, and so begins to think about it further. “Well, I was happy that I bested Abel, and that doesn’t feel wrong, but… it feels wrong to hold onto that feeling too long… like I’m being mean to Abel in my head.”

“Beautiful! Just beautiful!” The boy’s father wraps his arms around them.

“Yes, feeling proud of yourself for accomplishing a difficult task, or setting yourself apart isn’t evil. It drives us to better ourselves, gives us motivation, and encourages hope for greater things in the future. ‘Being’ is proud of us in those moments to. Any time that you feel proud of yourself, ‘Being’ is also proud of you. However, holding onto pride too long can harm us. We forget that we aren’t always in the lead, or better than others, or smarter. Recognizing the limits of pride, and reminding ourselves of them is called humility, and it keeps us grounded in ‘Being’.

“Remember, everything that it is possible for us to feel comes from the ‘Being’, and so if you are ever confused about how you feel, or how to recognize good or evil, create that place where you can speak with it.”

Abel, sitting up to look his father in the eye, asks about something that has troubled him before, “Father, why did ‘Being’ push you out? Did you do something wrong? Was it because of the ‘knowledge of good and evil’ you mentioned?”

Understanding how important this answer is, and how deep the answer will affect his son, Abel’s father thinks carefully and says, “No, my son, we didn’t do anything wrong. And there isn’t anything wrong with you either. However, that ‘knowledge’ is part of why we were put here.

Glancing at his younger son, the boy’s father determines it is still early enough for one more story.

“Because you asked, and because I know that this is important to you. I will tell you why we were put here. The story goes something like this…

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Behind the question of sadness is this fear that we have as humans. This fear that somehow what we feel is wrong.

While I can say that what some people do with their feelings is wrong, it does not follow the path of love set by God, the feeling itself is not wrong. Everything in this world, because it was created by God, God understood completely and intended for good. Now, what humans, in their free will, choose to do with what God intended for good is the story of the Bible, and the tragedies that accompany all of our lives.

What we need to accept, is that there is nothing wrong with us. We are loved, perfect in our imperfection, just as God intended us from the beginning. Yes, we make bad choices, yes, we perform wrong actions, but this does not mean God loves us any less, nor is what we did or said entirely unexpected. Lest you forget, God created you. Fashioned you. He gave you the freedom to do what you will, and that means that he knew you might do something wrong. However, unconditional love means that there is no condition under which God will not love you. Sin does not separate you from God, NOTHING can separate you from God except you. God in his love for you will let you walk away from Him. He weeps for those of His children who choose this path, and always waits for the day when they will choose to return.

God does not hold grudges, does not hate, and will always love you. This doesn’t mean that God doesn’t believe in consequences. God is not a door mat, however, God is love. God did not stop the prodigal son from harming himself, but he did welcome him back with open arms. Don’t let what you think about God, or what you think about yourself, distance you from His love. He is waiting. Go, and be with Him.