Hazel and I have been ending our nights on the couch reading stories. Stories from her Storybook Bible, stories that she doesn’t quite understand yet still listens to. There’s obviously a spirit in her that craves these stories, that knows them. That looks at the pictures and stirs and wobbles.
We have been camped out in the Nativity Story for awhile now. It’s her favorite. But tonight, we started in the beginning. The very beginning. The beginning where there was nothing, and no one. Where dark was made light and breath made into a beat.
Halfway through our story though, I stopped. I’ve been learning to do that more often, you know. To stop when I feel the pause. To…selah.
“You see, God knew if they ate the fruit, they would think they didn’t need him. And they would try to make themselves happy without him. But God knew there was no such thing as happiness without him, and life without him wouldn’t be life at all. As soon as the snake saw his chance, he slithered silently up to Eve. “Does God really love you?”
Wait, wait. My eyes darted up. I’ve heard this before. I’ve felt that slither. Is that what that was? Is that really the question I was contemplating in those valleys? It felt like confusion, and anger, and exasperation. But, those words. That question. Was I really asking that? Did I really believe…
“Does God really love me?”
“If he does, why won’t he let you eat the nice, juicy, delicious fruit? Poor you, perhaps God doesn’t want you to be happy”
I shift in my seat a little.
“The snake’s words hissed into her ears and sunk down deep into her heart, like poison. ‘Does God love me?’ Eve wondered. Suddenly she didn’t know anymore.”
I can actually close my eyes and remember the moment my “suddenly” came, although still, I have a hard time admitting that’s the question I was asking.
The sting of loss, the tragedy forgotten, the life that moved on. Suddenly I didn’t know anymore. And I drank it all the way down, that poison.
“Eve picked the fruit and ate some. And Adam ate some, too. And a terrible lie came into the world. It would never leave. It would live on in every human heart, whispering to every one of God’s children: “God doesn’t love me.”
I imagine myself pouring a cup of coffee and sitting down across her.
“So, you heard that too, then? You questioned it?”
The woman who literally walked with the Living God in the Garden he created with a word. The woman who had never tasted shame, who had no scope of wickedness.
She ate the fruit. She swallowed the lie. She birthed the question. And she would birth it over and over again until every generation had been kissed with this death.
In the pause we lock eyes, Eve and I, and we know. We know what she passed down to me, and we know what I have received. We know we are the same.
She leans across the table and whispers, “It’s not over.”
“God loved his children too much to let the story end there. Even though he knew he would suffer, God had a plan – a magnificent dream! One day, he would get his children back. One day, he would make the world their perfect home again. And one day, he would wipe away every tear from their eyes. You see, no matter what, in spite of everything, God would love his children – with a Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love. Before they left the garden God whispered a promise to Adam and Eve: ‘It will not always be this way. I will come to rescue you! And when I do, I’m going to do battle against the snake. I’ll get rid of the sin and the dark and the sadness you let in here. I’m coming back for you!’ And he would. One day, God himself would come.”
Hazel asks why I’m crying. I tell her my story within this Story. I tell her I too, like Eve, had wondered if God loved me, and that there might come a day when she wonders if God loves her. I tell her to always, always remember the Promise. “It will not always be this way. I will come to rescue you!”
So the cup from which the poison flowed may still bear the print of our lips, but the blood which pumps through our veins is being transfused. We bear the weight yet we are free. Eve is our lineage but not our inheritance.
There’s a resounding answer to this question Eve and I and you have asked. Hear it for yourself. Hear the promise.