"Stop staring!" That’s what my wife often tells me when we are out in public and I’m fascinated by some interesting person. I know in my heart she is right, not necessarily from a personal sin standpoint but rather from a social and cultural awareness one! My usual first response though is to think to myself, "I'm not really staring am I? ... and even if I was it's not like everyone can see me right?" She assures me then that if she can see it, then others can too and that it's embarrassing her. This is when I start to rein it in, to trust the one God has given me to tell me how I really look in public. Like when I try to wear socks and dress shoes with shorts out to run a morning errand, she is a wise and trusted judge when it comes to these things and many others.
I'm a people watcher.
Indiscriminate of age, gender, nationality, or even physical attractiveness in the eyes of the world - each person is interesting to me and has a story that bares some studying and thought. In many ways this personality trait, or “quirk” if you will, has been a blessing and a strength. It has made empathy easier and has allowed me to learn about people in order to love them and serve them. It has also been a heavy burden at times. To understand people is to know their plight and pain, their emptiness and depravity apart from God's "Hound of Heaven - like," persistent grace. Most sobering of all is that to know others is to know myself, as Genesis tells me, a son of Adam.
This is Genesis 3:22-24:
The Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the Garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.
I'm a dead man walking.
As I get older and as my family has grown over the past half-decade, some of my most interesting people watching is literally right in front of me, often at odd hours of the night, when I'm rarely conscious enough to appreciate it as I wish I could. My children are little image bearers that God has given me both the great pleasure and sometimes overwhelming responsibility of watching over and helping to grow. And grow they do, unapologetic of my will to somehow have them skip out on the ramifications of a heart wrenching, knee-jerk response to the Creator of the universe.
I watch my children and I listen. More and more now I hear the haunting words of my sons…“she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Likewise, I hear the sadly deceived words of my beloved daughter. “The serpent deceived me, and I ate" daddy.
To my beautiful, spirited 3 year old daughter Elsie, I hear God’s warning in Genesis 3:16 ring loud and echo in my brain:
I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children.
Your desire shall be contrary to your husband,
but he shall rule over you.
And to my brave, lion hearted boys, Ernie and Otto, and one more soon to arrive, seemingly perfectly innocent Abner,
…cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.”
The curse of sin has become more of a reality than ever as I look at my children. My heart hurts for them because they are just like their daddy. Innocence will fade and sin will sneak in and try to destroy, as it has and does for every son and daughter. And this time I can't stop staring at them. I won't; because it it's so vividly real and yet so is the serpent crusher. I stare and I stare and I pray "Crush our sin, Lord Jesus, Crush our sin."
Pray with me.
Creator of the perfect garden and all good things, your patience with your creation is remarkable. Your love is amazing and steadfast for those who refuse to eat of the fruit of sin, and shamelessly run out of hiding into your arms when they do. Father, your forgiveness is soul transforming. Your grace is potent - and no sin, guilt, or evil can thwart it. Lord, your power is mighty - and it was made manifest when you delivered your Son over to evil, unworthy children, to strike the final decisive blow on our behalf in a bloody, exhausting brawl. We were overmatched and hopeless but you are who you are and your love reigns supreme. Forgive us, Father, and draw us in as we silently confess our sin to the one who listens and soon crushes Satan underneath our feet (Rom. 15:20). Amen.