The Beginning, Part 3
Genesis 2:15-17 (NKJV)
John 1:5 (NKJV)
Psalm 92:15 (NKJV)
The year was 1968. I was fourteen years old. I was excited that I landed a babysitting job for the summer because I wanted to have my own money. I remember that summer well. The reason I remember it so well is because it’s probably the most difficult job I’ve ever had. I was a babysitter for two children, ages 4 and 5. I’ve always been okay with kids but this was awful. Both parents were professional psychologists. That should be a good thing, but in this case it wasn’t so great because they told me I was never allowed to tell the children no. The word ‘no’ was not acceptable verbiage for them.
I asked what I was supposed to do when they didn’t do what they were supposed to do. They said I had to find a way to get them to realize what a good decision looks like. I didn’t really even know totally what that looked like, let alone how to do it successfully. I tend to think that kids are really smart and they know when they have the upper hand. These two definitely knew they were in charge.
At first, I went home crying every night.
I did learn a lot about how to discipline children. I did babysit all summer. Gradually, ever so gradually, I learned how to get my point across without saying the word ‘no’. I remembered that my dad didn’t actually say no to me. He would just LOOK at me in a certain way and I knew I needed to stop dead in my tracks and redirect my steps.
By the end of the summer, all I had to do was look at them and they would stop. Then I would either find something else for them to do or I’d change how they were doing what they were doing. It was redirect before the term was invented. It was my means of survival. I learned a lot from that job that laid the groundwork for my own parenting skills.
But I didn’t always discipline my own children in the same way. I did use the word no along with ‘the look’. I did enforce a command. I noticed early on that each one of my children responded differently to discipline. With my daughter, all I had to do was give her a softer version of ‘the look’ and she would stop, say sorry, and change what she was doing.
With my oldest son, the look didn’t carry much weight. And when I gave him a time out in his room, he was happy as a clam. It wasn’t punishment. He wasn’t afraid the the wooden spoon. But, I learned that making him sit in a chair in the same room as all of us made him very uncomfortable. (I know today that was because he is an introvert and he doesn’t mind being by himself).
My middle son didn’t mind sitting in a chair. He would just tell jokes. He didn’t mind going to his room. He would plan how to do something funny to his brothers. Everything, and I mean everything was a joke. What he did mind was having to face the thought of ‘the wooden spoon’. He hated it so much that I didn’t have to use it on him. I just had to get it out and hold it up and give him ‘the look’. Of course, I had trouble not laughing because of his look back to me, but he still got the point.
My youngest son was the real puzzle. He didn’t care if I glared at him. He just glared back. He didn’t mind sitting in a chair in the room with us. He didn’t care if I got out the wooden spoon.
I wondered what would work.
One day, I was so upset that I sent him to his room just because I needed a time out from him. I told him he had to stay in there. My other three children and I were in the kitchen laughing and having fun and he stood in the door way to his bedroom yelling, “you guys, what are you laughing about? What’s so funny? Did you forget me?” Booyah...from then on he got sent to his room by himself when he misbehaved.
He hated being separated from us. As it turned out, he is an extreme extrovert. He learned that if he didn’t want to be separated from the rest of us, he needed to follow the rules.
In the garden, God gave Adam a job to do. God knew that man would be more satisfied with structure and with work that satisfied him. Man needed a purpose in life.
In Genesis 2:15, we read, “Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.”
Adam learned that growing his own food, preparing the land, watering the crops, and seeing the plants grow was very satisfying. It gave him purpose.
I imagine that while everything was going great with God and Adam in Eden and Adam was tilling and planting in the garden it was a shock that God pulled him aside to give him a special rule. As far as we know up until that moment, Adam had been given a total green light in this paradise to do whatever he wanted.
In Genesis 2:16-17, we find, “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
That day, God gave Adam the right to choose. God didn’t have to do that, but he did. He gave man free will.
God knew that if he didn’t give man the right to choose, man would only be a puppet. Man would not learn to think for himself. Man would never develop into a fully thinking human. Man would never grow up,
God didn’t want a puppet who didn’t develop and grow. God wanted man to learn, to grow, and to love fully. God wanted interaction with man. He wanted to love man and He wanted man to return His love. God wanted depth and breadth.
God gave Adam the right to make a choice between good and evil.
Notice, that In Genesis 2 God had not created woman. She wasn’t even in the picture yet. The directive to not eat from the tree of good and evil was given to Adam prior to Eve coming on the scene.
Adam was told not to eat the fruit on the tree.
Also notice that God clearly told Adam what the consequences of his disobedience would be, “in the day you eat of it you shall surely die.”
So, here’s the deal. I had a choice with the two children when I was fourteen. I could have walked away and quit my job. With my kids, I could have decided to discipline them all the same way but that just didn’t seem to make sense. We all make choices every day.
We choose to keep going or to stop. We choose to react and move quickly, or we choose to slow down and wait for God to show us the way. We choose how to make decisions. We choose to take charge ourselves or we turn to God and ask God to direct us.
The easy choice is to decide for ourselves what is best.
The difficult choice is to pray and wait for God to direct us. It’s hard. Surrendering to God is never easy because it means we have to wait and listen. Doing that is counter cultural. It doesn’t make sense. People will think we’re crazy, indecisive, incapable. I’ve been told I just need to make a decision. Now, since I’m older (and wiser because of it), I tell people, “I did make a decision. I decided to pray he wait for God to direct me.”
As a result, I’ve seen for myself that, God is Light and in Him there is no darkness (John 1:5). Psalm 92:15 tells us to declare God upright for, “He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.” There is NO evil in God. Everything He has for us is good.
It’s not the quick easy choice, but turning to the light is always for our ultimate good.
Today’s Spiritual Practice is: see the Light
Recognizing the light of God comes from sitting in the presence of God. Spend time sitting in silence with God. (Twenty minutes is best, but I’ve found that some folks need to work up to that, so even sitting with God for 5 minutes will bless you.)
In God, Deborah