fall of Eden, The Fall of Eden, Bucket List Reimagined #29, 100 Droplet Gifts, Chile, social crisis, pandemic, temptations, tempted to fervor, tempted to frustration, tempted to fear, graffiti, C. S. Lewis

The Fall of Eden

A year and a half ago, Chile pranced on the cusp of the First World. In complacent security, the country hovered near the apex of prosperity, about to scale the summit of Mt. Ambition. Just ahead, the mirage shimmered. Then, instead of the “happy copy of Eden” our national anthem lauds, we watched the Fall of Eden in horror.

“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” –Proverbs 16:18

Between the sporadic quarantines and the ongoing social uprising, it certainly feels like the fall of Eden into disintegration here. The increase in violent crimes and the indigenous insurgence in the south no longer creep but now hurtle toward a situation even darker and more dire.

Beyond the news stories, perhaps I’ve experienced my own personal fall of Eden this year, too. I’ve lived on pins and needles, amid graffiti and garbage and growing lines. I’ve become used to face masks and alcohol gel and shortages of everything from flour to fresh air to friendships. And I’ve grown accustomed to making no plans, expecting no paradise-on-earth. No peace-on-earth either.

If it sounds like I’ve fallen straight into a “pit of destruction” (Ps. 40:2; or “desperation,” as it’s translated in Spanish), let’s just confess I’ve tottered on the edge from time to time.

“If you think of this world as a place intended simply for our happiness, you find it intolerable: think of it as a place of training and correction, and it’s not so bad.” –C. S. Lewis

So true. If we’re ever tempted to imagine this life as more than a pilgrimage to our real country, we’ll find ourselves deeply disappointed. Lewis, in his essay “Learning in Wartime” (The Weight of Glory), identifies three temptations in a time of crisis. He spoke to students in the vortex of World War II, yet his thoughts remain timely:

Tempted to Fervor

Lewis terms it “excitement.” I call it more of a “fever,” a bubbling emotional fervor. Abnormal times stir up abnormal excitement. Our natural human curiosity and zest for life can lead us to a zeal for the garish and grim.

The fizz in our nerves sparks an artificial high. Our agitation at world events can easily mutate into an addiction to disaster and a morbid fascination with the macabre. Let’s not forget that fever signals sickness and disease as well as enthusiasm.

My appetite for excitement seems insatiable sometimes. Why can’t I consume enough of newsfeed poison? Why do we always head back for our fix of phone and Facebook and flock like moths to the hot button of the hour—the political debate, the accident, the scandal? No wonder we’re in such a flap about everything.

At a ladies’ Christmas get-together last year, the conversation inevitably revolved around the current social unrest. Finally, one brave woman spoke up: “Please let’s not talk about the chaos and trouble anymore.” She was not expressing blind denial, only a heartfelt desire to focus not on the evil but on edifying one another.

C. S. Lewis suggested that smart people should try to become “immune from the great cataract of nonsense that pours from the press and the microphone of (our) age.” Seriously, you might’ve thought he was sitting at our tea party. Is there anything new under the sun?

Today’s enemies of pandemic and protests are merely the same old adversary dressed in flashier new clothes. Let’s resist that Fall of Eden into runaway emotional reaction and pursuit of the latest-greatest novelty.

The presence of God gives high meaning to both the ordinary and extraordinary of our lives.

Tempted to Frustration

The temptation to throw tantrums in exasperation and defeat has its roots, perhaps, in our desire to arrange everything to perfect satisfaction. We want the future to be better!

How we writhe when we stumble and tumble into circumstances where we just can’t do much of anything. When we’re stopped cold—even frozen—in our tracks, our work, dreams, and plans all on indefinite hold.

But the truth is, the sooner we accept that we are not in control and never have been, the sooner we find peace. Once again, our current crisis hasn’t launched any strange new world, only exacerbated our frustration with things as they’ve always existed, if we admit it.

We humans have always clung to a frayed rope of sanity over the edge of the pit that the Fall of Eden dumped us into. We dwell in the valley of the shadow of calamity and catastrophe. Has your life ever felt normal?

Droplet Gift #29: I will put all my hope in the Lord’s return, not in a return to the normality we knew.

God’s plan for the universe is unfolding according to His design, vexing—or veiled—to us as it may seem. His timing is perfect. Ours will never arrive. We may as well ignore the distractions and the dismal omens and settle down to DO whatever our part is, small or great.

“Stars may be seen from the bottom of a deep well, when they cannot be discerned from the top of a mountain. So are many things learned in adversity.” –Charles Spurgeon

This is life, and it is what it is. We can kick and scream (I do, figuratively at least) or we can take the time and opportunities offered to us as a gift from God and use them. In fact, this past year I’ve found unexpected rest in the simple rituals of daily devotionals and homemade pizza and LOTS of reading.

Of course, I struggle with the uneasy feeling that I won’t have time or resources or zip to finish everything I want to accomplish. But does anyone in her right mind ever truly feel she’s finished?

That uncertain future I must leave in God’s hands and rejoice in today. While I believe in having a vision, I know that my best-quality work comes from making this moment count.

And contentment grows from holding the future in loose hands and enjoying the pizza even while I drool for prime rib. “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (I Cor. 10:31).

Tempted to Fear

Since the original Fall of Eden, every one of us has tottered on the brink of the abyss. It didn’t take the year 2020 to bring us there. We’ve feared death and discomfort and suffering for millennia.

Yet all the modern risk assessment, the illusions of safety we cling to, cannot keep the gnawing anxieties at bay forever. The assurance of a smooth slide through life has dissipated like morning mist.

It was only ever a matter of time before the hounds of mortality caught up and bit us. Before our limitations swelled beyond our ability to compensate. All those programs and projects, meant to free and fill us, may mitigate our pain and tension for a while. But they are doomed to fail at the end. Instead of looking forward to the future, many now dread what it may bring.

“Courage is fear that has said its prayers.” –Unknown

But I’m convinced my only hope is found in acknowledging and facing those fears. Then I will fear no evil, for God is with me (Ps. 23:4). His compassion refreshes every morning (Lam. 3:22-23), and His faithfulness reaches all generations (Ps. 100:5).

He is able to keep “what I have entrusted to Him” (2 Tim. 1:12). He is able to keep me from falling (Jude 24). Instead of fearing the Fall of Eden, or the crash of any earthly utopia, we can fall back on the One who will never let us be destroyed or obliterated. Even when we stumble, “underneath are the everlasting arms” (Dt. 33:27).

Will a restoration to normality come? I don’t know. Perhaps. But in the meantime…

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” –Corrie ten Boom

Lord, don’t take me home until… l’m looking up from the pit and waiting to fly away.

6 Comments

  1. What a timely reminder, Mrs. Diane. And as difficult as things become at times, I hold that we are blessed to live now. I look over my seventy years and marvel at all God has done in our world, even though man takes credit for it. In another 8-10 years you might feel like I do—we have an amazing opportunity to share with the emerging generation the things that count, that transcend, that make a difference. In fact, that is what you are doing right now on your wonderful blog. Please keep sharing your droplets. Hugs!

    1. Yes, I agree, we have so many wonderful opportunities that those in previous generations never even imagined. In spite of the obstacles, we are flooded with daily blessings. May we take advantage of each and every one! Thanks for your encouraging words and prayers.

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