I find it somewhat comforting to know that Adam and Eve succumbed to temptation while they were living in a pristine garden, naked, joyful, and free with access to lush, pure vegetation and direct contact with God. I mean, I’ve got a lot of good excuses compared to them, right? Picture the birds flitting, the livestock roaming, the rivers rolling, and the pleasant conversations between Adam, Eve, and God. No text messages, employment issues, no relationship disputes, or financial concerns, no health problems — just Adam, Eve, and God. Nothing troublesome existed to cause angst until the snake slithered onto the scene just to ruin the fun (one always does) — and pointed out to Adam and Eve that they were being tyrannized because God didn’t want them to be as powerful as He. Perhaps Adam and Eve wanted God’s power, or maybe they simply felt betrayed by God and couldn’t stand to think that they were possibly being deceived by Him. They were afraid to trust God because it could mean (if they in fact were being deceived) that their egos would be bruised. It was an attachment to the self and a refusal to risk being found fools.
By contrast, you’ve got Abraham who marched quite confidently up to the top of the mountain, tied up his only son, stacked some wood, and was all set to offer him up as a sacrifice because God asked him to. He had no fears of being foolish, and look what he was about to do! While we can't imagine a literal burnt human offering, I do think it’s sometimes easier to sacrifice the people we love than it is to surrender our own pride, so strong is the cement that bonds the brick walls of our hearts. We would rather let go of people, abandon our relationships, than hurt our own pride. It takes a great deal of courage and faith in ourselves and in God to stand vulnerably in the light, naked and exposed to possible harm to our egos.
We are faced with these options daily — to cling to our pride or relinquish our attachment to it. Adam and Eve show us that we have to become aware of the meandering voice within that tries to manipulate us with its lies. We learn from them the deep, lasting, and wide-ranging pain that befalls us when we choose to cling to our egos and hide in shame behind our own fear. Abraham teaches us the positive, albeit arduous work of surrender. It’s uphill, uncomfortable, and it takes commitment, determination, courage and a heck of a lot of faith, but the fruits of it are “as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore.”
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