Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Paradise Lost

But with the snap of the forbidden fruit, everything changed. A cloud hovered over the sun shrouding the world in darkness. A frigid wind shot through the garden and entered my heart. I shivered. I was cold, naked, and ashamed. Grabbing some fig leaves, I frantically tried to sew together some clothes for my husband and me. I needed covering.

Shadows to my right, a scuffle, and the deafening cry of a bleating lamb. Then, footsteps. My heart was pounding. I found a tree and dove behind it. Cowering there, I heard the footsteps grow ever closer. Oh God, save me, I breathed.

The footsteps stopped. A familiar voice called out, "Where are you?"

Dare I answer? What if He found out what I had done?

It was quiet for a moment, and then my husband spoke, "I...I heard you and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid."

"Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?"

Adam grabbed my arm, pulled me out from my hiding place, and shoved me forward. "This woman, she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it."

I stared hard at the ground but could feel those eyes of sparkling jewels shift to me. I was certain I had met my end.

"What is this you have done?"

I could not look up. What would anger look like on such a face? Would a scowl cross that holy countenance? If the world was made with a word, what kind of destruction could a shout bring? And who could blame Him? It's what I deserved. He gave generously, and I took from him the one thing that was not mine to have. I broke the only commandment he spoke.

"You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."

I was heavy with guilt and had a sudden urge to beat my fist against my forehead. A lump grew and lingered in my throat. How could I have been so foolish?!

Then I remembered the serpent and his slippery words. "Did God really say?...You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

My anger transferred to the slimy snake. He had made it sound so convincing. Greatness... God was holding me back...God was keeping something from me. But now I see that serpent for what he really is, the father of lies.

My face contorted as I fought to beat down the lump that swelled in my throat. My eyes burned until tears could no longer be contained. Best to look up now and meet my ruin rather than prolong it.

"The serpent deceived me, and I ate."

I looked up and what I saw sent a new pain into my chest. But this pain did not destroy me. No, it was healing me. My Maker's cheeks were just as smitten with tears as my own, his hands were stained red, and adorning his shoulder was the skin of a lamb.

The Lord turned to the serpent who sat with a satisfied smile and spoke, "Cursed are you. You will crawl on your belly and eat dust. You have set yourself up as a war maker and you will continue to make war against the woman and her children. You will nip, bite, and scratch at her heels." The Lord glanced in my direction, and I saw a twinkle of hope spark in his eyes." But He will crush your head."

Then God turned to face my husband and me. He told us the new order of things, that life could now only come on the heels of great pain. "The ground," God said, "will poke, cut, tear, scratch, and gnaw, but by the sweat of Adam's brow and through much toil, life will spring up yet again." And to me he said, "As Adam will labor to bring forth life from the earth, you will likewise labor to bring forth life from your womb." With these words, God slung the sheep skin off his shoulder and laid it before us. "Put this on. It will cover you."

When we were clothed, God led us out of the garden. As we left, I turned back for one last view of my home and saw cherubim brandishing swords and barring the way to the tree of life.

There has not been a day gone by when I haven't longed to go back. I wake up from dreams I can't remember with a distinct feeling of homesickness in my heart. I ache for the day when He will come and crush the head of the serpent of lies, make clear the way to the tree of life, and carry me home.


  1. Original composition from Breann Stephens, I presume? Excellent work. On a related note, I will soon be reading John Milton's epic poem "Paradise Lost." I'm eager to dig into it. I've been falling in love with Milton more and more every day.

    (By the way, I'm attempting to catch up on blogs. I've been behind for months. That's why I'm posting this comment two months late.)

  2. I am so happy you read this, Emily! You just made my night. :) I haven't read "Paradise Lost" yet, but a friend of mine tells me that it's one that must be read out loud. You'll have to tell me about it, and then I'll go read it myself someday.