The snake convinces the woman that she's in control of things. But, she's not, of course. What she thinks she has under control quickly spins out of her control.
What the serpent does, what the woman does, and what the man does, all threaten to undo what God's Word has done. Or, at least that's what they think when things quickly spin out of their control. The woman thought she was doing something good for herself, her husband, and God. But, in so doing, she almost annihilated all life on earth.
With the snake's gentle nudge she almost uncreated the world.
She ate the fruit then gave some to her husband, and he ate the fruit. Their eyes were opened. They knew they were naked. Then they sewed leaves together to make aprons because they were naked. For the first time, they were ashamed of their nakedness.
This happened because the fruit God had forbidden them to eat, they ate. They swallowed the lie about God's Word and how God's Word says the world will go. Instead of being something good, something that satisfied them, the lie gnawed at their guts, rotting them from the inside, sickening them unto death. And so it goes for us, their children, still today.
All of us, at some point, get mixed up. We convince ourselves we're in charge. We've got things under control. Then things spin out of control. Before we know it, we're sitting in a room with strangers talking about our addiction, our troubled marriage, our parole hearing, all the choices we've made. What we thought were good choices resulted in self-annihilation.
At one time or another, we've thought the same things as Adam and Eve. We’ve thought, "The whole world is in front of me. There's no way this can go wrong." We imagine we're right where we need to be, helping the right person to do the right thing. Maybe we're that person. Maybe it's family or a close friend. Maybe it's a total stranger that struck a chord in our hearts.
We understand their struggle, or at least sympathize with it. We give them a bed, a meal, or a ride. But, we know they need more than a good night's sleep, a full belly, or a ride to their destination. We know what they know: things have gotten out of control. They're not going to be able to save themselves. We can't save them either, but we're going to try anyway.
We're going to try because we're just as addicted to false truth as any junkie. We can roll over in bed or we can walk a thousand miles. It doesn't matter how far we have to go. We know we can make a difference. We can do something good. We know the way the struggle should go, and we're just the person to save some beautiful soul from defeat. We have to do it. We won't be satisfied with life until we do. Even though we're Christians, people of faith, people who lean on God's Word, we still think we can save them.
Am I saying we shouldn’t help people? No. Am I saying we should ignore peoples' struggles because we can't save them? No, of course not. What I am saying is this: even though all the responsibility is on us to serve and sacrifice our life (if necessary) for others, it's not about us.
We are the instrument through which God acts. God's Word does it all. If there's anyone who's struggling, who's unsatisfied or defeated, we can't fix them, help or heal them. Only God's Word can accomplish that impossible feat. He does this when and where He chooses.
Only God's Word of Gospel can permanently help and heal the addicted. Only Jesus' absolute absolution can help and heal a troubled marriage. Only the Word of God that raises the dead can pull someone up out of self-annihilation. And should He choose to use us to accomplish any or all of these things, then "let him who boasts, boast in the Lord" (2 Cor. 10:17).
It doesn’t matter if we’re dealing with happy and excited nine-year-old or an eighty-three-year-old struggling with regret and nostalgia, there's no escape from thinking we've got things under control. We're going to figure this out. Something good can still happen. If we just make the right choice, that choice can get us to where we want to be.
But, that's just the serpent giving us a gentle nudge, hoping we'll be the one to finally undo all God's work.
But, don't worry, we can't undo anything God has done. What God's Word says is how the world goes. And, no matter what we do, that word goes right on in that way. Thanks be to Christ that the way the world goes is the way of forgiveness, life, and eternal salvation. Fixing someone who’s struggling, helping someone escape addiction, or healing someone’s heartbreak--all of that is taken out of our hands. They are in the hands of God, who calls such people, "My children.”
Likewise, in our struggles, choices, and self-annihilation, we're still God's children. His Word said it at our baptism. And, again and again, in the good news of Jesus Christ, his Word declares that we remain God’s children, today and always.