Adam and Eve lived in a Garden full of YES, with only one “no.”
“God, can I eat of that tree?” Yes. “How about that one over there.” God smiled. “Yes.” Can I take a nap under that tree?” Yes. How about …” Yes.
A Garden full of YES, with only one “no.”
“But that tree in the center of the Garden…” It was more of a statement than a question. God clearly, firmly, lovingly, said “No.”
A garden full of YES, with only one “no.” And Satan leveraged that one “no” to pry open the heart of Eve to entertain a single doubt. Could that one “no” be keeping them from something “good”?
“Eve, your eyes will be opened … to know good…”
“Adam, look. This fruit is good. It tastes good. How could we have ever thought that this was bad for us????”
The first bite of sin almost always taste good in the same way the first taste of freedom almost always tastes good to the puppy who wriggles his way under the fence. But outside the fence there is no warm blanket set out for him to curl up in. There is no bowl of fresh, clean water or dish of yummy food. There is cold, and thirst, and hunger, and loneliness. And danger. We have seen him, the puppy staggering into the road, dazedly walking into the path of oncoming cars.
How could we ever have thought this was bad for us?
Adam and Eve turned their backs on a Garden full of goodness. Satan convinced them that they had to find out for themselves what lay on the other side of that one “no.”
Shame. Blame. Denial. Hatred. Sorrow. Death. Hell.
How could we have ever thought this was good for us?
God could have responded by becoming cross with them. Instead, God responded with the Cross.
Coats of skins.
Innocence made to bear shame.
The Guiltless made to suffer blame. Mine. Yours. The whole world.
Denial. (“We have no king but Caesar!)
Hatred. (“Crucify Him! Crucify HIM!”)
Sorrow. (My God, My God! Why hast Thou forsaken me?)
What we find on the other side of “no” is the Cross.
Through the shame and the blame, the hollow laughter and gut-wrenching sobs, the MORE that always turns out to be so much LESS than we expected, is a path that leads us to just one place. Calvary. The Cross. And through the Cross, the way back to God. To grace. To goodness. To peace. To joy. To triumph.
No wonder Paul said, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
More times than I care to remember in my walk with God, I have found myself on the other side of “no.” I have experienced my share of the sorrow and shame that comes from being blinded to all the “Yes” of God by one momentarily, all-consuming, pleasure-promising “no.”
“I know I shouldn’t get angry like this, but it feels so good to let it all out.”
“I know I shouldn’t _______________ …”
Wounds. Shame. Loss. Loneliness. Slavery.
How could I have ever thought this was good for me?
God, I don’t know what to do. I don’t know where to turn.
Always, the answer is the same.
The Cross. The other side of “no” only leads to one way back to God. To His grace. His goodness. His joy.
The Cross. Where the sinless Son of God died for my sins. Where the guiltless Son of God bore my shame. Where the Lamb of God poured out His blood to take away my sins and bring me back to God.
It’s not a dream. It’s not what I deserve. It’s just what God has done to rescue us from our sins and ourselves.
So, today, I begin my morning gazing at Calvary. I remember all the shame my Savior suffered there, every tortured moment He endured to rescue me from the other side of “no.” I look beyond the Cross to the empty tomb. It’s life. It’s victory. It’s joy. I look up into the welcoming face of my risen Savior and ask Him for the grace to live this day in the enjoyment of His “yes.”
And He says, “Yes!”
Because you do not have to wait until you are on the other side of “no” to experience the grace, goodness, freedom, and joy of Jesus Christ found at the Cross.