Today's passage: Genesis 3
I do not have teenagers yet, and still have a few years before I get to fret and worry over those challenging years. I think about the hearts of parents whose teens have rebelled and strayed. I think of the sleepless nights of the parents of young people who have chosen a different path from the one they were guided in. The young adults who have strayed from the fold, choosing one that will no doubt lead them to destruction or even if rescued in time, still a lifetime of pain and regret. It seems that every family has at least one child who rejects what he or she has been taught. Some rebellion is seemingly slight, maybe skipping church from time to time, or going to the occasional drinking party. The parents are unhappy with these decisions but are grateful that their children are still within their influence to possibly lead them in a better way. There are young people who fall into an even greater rebellion, letting vices of alcohol and drugs lead them far away from spiritual influence. Perhaps they fall into a wrong crowd--a gang, a cult, a drug den. They seem beyond reach. They seem beyond hope. They seem beyond rescue.
Looking back, remembering the early years when this prodigal took his first step, when she took her first bite of baby food, when he first said "I love you" and gave his Mama a kiss of his own accord, I doubt mother and father flash forwarded to the future to see him buying a dime bag, to visualize her with the gaunt cheek bones of a meth addict, to picture him facing the judge after driving while intoxicated. I don't want to fathom the heartache and despair that these parents experience. And even if they knew this is what their children would choose, would they ever have wished they had not been born? Would there ever be anything my children could do that would have made me reconsider their existence? Would there be any sin or act that they would commit, that I would think to myself, "I wish I had never given birth to this child"?. I can't imagine thinking or feeling that. I can't imagine any parent wishing or thinking that. Would I wish they had made different choices? Of course. Would I pray that they would see the Truth, the Way and the Life? Yes. Would I do everything in my power to help and guide and lead them on the right path? Undoubtedly. And sometimes the only power I would have is to pray.
I'm reading about Adam and Eve. God knew exactly what was going to happen. He didn't blame Himself for the choice they were about to make, a choice that would change their relationship forever. A choice that would have lasting consequences. A choice that would change their whole way of life. God was the perfect parent, and still they chose to do what was wrong. God knew what they would choose. And knowing it, He still created us. He knew that they would not be the only ones to make wrong choices. He knew there would be many, many more who would make choices. Choices that excluded Him. Like any parent, He has done all He can to bridge the gap, to make a way, to provide rescue. And like rebellious children, we still wander on our own. How full is God's heart?
After Adam and Eve sinned, and were judged, God provides the skins to cover them. It is a picture of present and future redemption, the sin covering, but what a picture of love as well. I don't see God just dropping these skins and harshly saying "Put these on". I picture God gently and lovingly wrapping His children in His provision, not withdrawing His love from them, from us. He didn't rue this day, wondering why He had created such rebellious creatures. He could have scrapped them and started over. It wouldn't have been very difficult for Him to do. He knew there would be even more children who would choose the same way. But He never says, "I wish you had never been born." I would say that I can't understand that, but when I think of my own children, I can't imagine thinking that of them either, no matter how much pain and grief they may cause me in the future. So maybe I can understand, because there is always hope that the prodigal son or daughter will return. There is always the possibility that he or she will choose right instead of wrong. There is always the prayer that our love will triumph over the evil that has ensnared them. My love for my children isn't nearly as powerful as God's. His love has reached into the deepest, darkest places. His love has rescued the most unlikely.
I shake my head at the impossibility of such love. Then I remember that He also has seen me take my first step, not only towards my parents but toward Him. He saw me dribble my first mouthful, not only of baby cereal, but of His Word into my heart. He heard me say "I love you" to my parents and to Him for the first time unprompted. He has seen me from the very start, and like any loving Father, He does whatever He can to help me. Would we have ever been able to see how much God loves us if Adam and Eve had obeyed, even if that is what they should have done? We would see how He loved perfect creatures. We could never see that unconditional love is loving that which is imperfect. We would never know just how far our God would go to return us to Him. And any parent with a wayward child would be willing to take their pain and consequences if it meant that they would be restored.
No, I would never wish for my children to have never existed. I would wish for them to follow God. I would wish for them to grasp His love. I would pray for them to abandon their foolish choices or ways. I would make the path of return plain and visible. God must feel the same way about us.