Every evening my wife and I undergo an intricate and sometimes belabored process of getting our two daughters (two years old and six years old) to bed. This process begins with bath time, then involves dinner, then homework for my older daughter, then wind-down time, then more wind-down time, then bed, with a bed time story. For the past several years I have been telling my older daughter stories from the Bible, right before bed.
These bedtime Bible stories have ranged from the trek of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem and the birth of the baby Jesus, to Daniel in the lions den. I have tried to stay away from the more intricately theological Bible texts (like Revelations) for example, because they raise too many questions in a six year old's mind, and they don't make for a very good material for "sweet dreams". However, this past week, I decided to veer away from the normal sanitized stories that the Bible has so many of, and tell the grand-daddy of them all - Adam and Eve and the Fall from Grace.
"And God said to Adam and Eve, you can eat any fruit in the entire Garden, but not the fruit from this one particular tree. But a snake came along and convinced Adam to try some of the fruit. At first Adam said 'No', but then he decided to go against God's will and give it a try. And so, he picked the fruit from the tree…."
"What kind of fruit was it Daddy?"
"I'm not sure, I think it was an apple, or maybe a pomegranate….and so Adam put the apple in his mouth, and took a big bite."
And here was the question I was not prepared for, but which I have been pondering and mulling over ever since.
"Was the fruit delicious?"
That one stumped me. I had to think about that for a long time before I answered. Was the fruit from the tree of Good and Evil that Adam and Eve first ate delicious? Was the fruit sweet and juicy, or was it pithy and pomey? And then I offered my answer to my now more awake than ever, six year old daughter
"No, I don't think the fruit was delicious. I think it was quite…
I think they hoped the fruit would be delicious. I think that it looked absolutely delectable. I think that the snake told them that the fruit would be the best they had ever eaten. But then, I think that after that first bite, they both knew in their hearts that they had made a huge mistake. I think they both looked each other in the eye, and with recognition and a deep sense of personal disappointment, they knew that they had traded Paradise itself, the Garden of Gardens, the most wonderful place that God had ever created for…
"Oh," said my daughter, with an equal sense of disappointment, "I thought it would have been delicious."
Sin is almost always a disappointment.
In the news recently has been the heart-breaking story of a young man who lives on the upper East Side of New York. His father was a struggling hedge-fund manager. The young man had been raised for years in the painful isolation of elite boarding schools and colleges. He hated his father for the distance that existed between the two. For years this young man fomented resentment towards his father for various reasons. The final blow was the indignity of having his weekly allowance cut from $600 to $400. He wanted to kill his father. Every day he thought about it, how if his father were dead, all of his problems would be over. One day, the young man could take his anger no more. In an act of desperate rage, he pulled out a hand-gun and shot his dad. Hoping that the killing would assuage his pain, he instantly knew that what he had done was only bandaid upon a growing cancer of hatred within himself. It was a taste of…
I remember a counseling appointment many years ago that I had with a young man who had cheated on his wife, and who was trying to put things back together again. I remember the pained conversation he had with me when he sat on the couch and, with tears in his eyes said, "The very instant that I began to have the affair, I knew it was a mistake. But there was no backing down, I had to go forward. It was not fun, it was actually awful."
King David, a middle aged potentate of Israel, who lived about the year 1,000 BC, talked longingly and regularly about the fruit that God has for our lives, verses the fruit of the world. Ironically, of course, King David would also taste his own Ordinary Fruit and almost lose his entire kingdom over it. When imagining the deliciousness of God's fruit, though, King David once said; "Taste and see for the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him," (Psalm 34:8).
Having plumbed the depths of theology with my six year old on the nature of Good and Evil, right before bed, perhaps I should move to lesser works of children's fiction like, "Curious George". Oh wait a minute, I think that book involves a monkey taking a banana from a grocery store. Perhaps Curious George's banana too, was mushy, and brown and soft. Perhaps it was just so…
All For Now,