This morning as the kids and I were watching a video about the Bible a thought occurred to me. The simple video from The Bible Project was explaining the book of Genesis. They did a great job with the video making it informational, entertaining and kept the kids’ interest. However, something jumped out at me while watching that video that I’ve never seen before.
We all know the book of Genesis starts with creation, then God makes Adam and Eve followed by that fateful day in the garden when they “fall” and sin is now introduced into our world changing it forever. After that, they get into that whole blame thing where Adam blames Eve and Eve blames the serpent and things just get worse from there with their children growing up with one who murders the other.
But what jumped out at me today in one of those AHA moments was this simple thought that Adam and Eve were very much like most adolescents. If you think about it, Adam and Eve were given rules by God, some simple rules which were for their own protection. God didn’t make these rules difficult. He gave them everything they needed to survive and then he said, “do not eat of that one tree”. That’s it, one simple rule and it boils down to this…Adam and Eve had a choice to make, would they obey God, trusting that He knew best and follow His rules, or would they make the choice to disobey God and do what they wanted which resulted in opening their eyes to good and evil.
That whole concept of “opening their eyes to good and evil” used to always bug me. It was so esoteric to me, something that seemed to difficult for me to understand. But today I saw it differently their choice was to make their own set of rules, their own parameters, boundaries, ethics, for them to create their own paradigm by which they would now choose to live their lives.
It was at that moment I realized that every child since that time has had the same choice to make. You see, as parents, we set up rules for our children. Most of us don’t make these rules arbitrarily but we make them either to teach our children how to behave so that in the future they will not have trouble relating to others or we make rules for their own safety. We do this because we are older and hopefully wiser than our children and we want them to grow up and either avoid learning lessons the hard way as we did, or because we know what they will need when they become adults. Whatever the reason is for our rules, we have some experience that they don’t have that allows us to “know best”.
As our children grow, they usually follow our rules up until a point, that point is usually adolescence when those children think they know more than we do, when they consider themselves equal in their minds to us and they think that they now have the right to make their own decisions. It is at this point that they have the same choice to make that Adam and Eve had to make. Will they choose to follow the rules that their parents gave them that were designed to make their lives easier in the long run, or would they choose to reject their parents’ rules and put themselves in the place of decision making often rejecting rules that were made to protect them.
My aha moment was that most children, I can say 5 out of 6 of mine have already hit this phase, come to a place where they have decided that mom doesn’t know best and that they can set up their own rules and choose to follow whatever they decide is moral, ethical, right in their own eyes.
I can’t tell you how many sermons I’ve heard on Adam and Eve but for some reason this realization that every child ever born faces the same choice Adam and Eve made and I’d say most of the time, they wind up making the wrong choice, rejecting their parents rules and creating their own set of rules only to realize as they mature that if they had listened to their parents they could have avoided some of the difficulties they faced. I say most of the time, because I do know some great kids who followed their parent’s advice and grew into maturity without facing any substantial difficulties.
I wish I had some sage advice here to tell you as parents that if you would just A B C or X Y Z then your children would choose wisely and mature into adults without making the wrong choice, but I don’t have that wisdom. I do believe as parents, that we need to teach our children when they are young, to instill in them God’s word so that when they get to that point in life they see it for what it is and realize what will happen to them if they make the wrong choice but even that is no guarantee. Each child has to make this choice for themselves and no matter how much we want to help them make it, we cannot.
I think this choice is also the first step in making a choice to accept Jesus or reject him. I say this because I’ve seen so many children make the opposite choice to create their own set of rules and they usually reject their parent’s religion in making that choice, seeing religion as too restrictive, as removing all the fun in life by imposing some arbitrary set of rules on them. They are now adults, they see freedom as their right to do as they want, not their responsibility to do as they ought. Many of them will wind up in their own prodigal son story running up debts, being promiscuous, getting pregnant or getting someone else pregnant, taking drugs, drinking excessively, most of the youth who use FREEDOM as the banner they live their life under do so to throw off all constraints. Some of these children are lucky and they only suffer a broken heart, bruise emotions, having to work more hours or two jobs to pay off debt but they all will have to suffer some outcome of their choices that they could have avoided if they have trusted that their parents might know more about how the world works then they do and embrace the laws given to them and live accordingly. I also say this is the first step in accepting Jesus because you first have to accept as Hebrews 11:6 tell us “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” They must first BELIEVE that God exists. If there is no God, then our actions do not really matter to anyone but ourselves. If, however, God does exist, then before we can accept Jesus as our savior, we have to first accept God and all that encompasses.
Getting back to my aha moment. Sometimes, we as parents see our children making choices that we know are not wise whether it’s children still at home who think they know best and want to argue with us over every little thing, or they have grown up and moved out and they make choices that we believe are not the correct choices. When I encounter these times with my children, I always question where I went wrong? Was I such a bad parent that I didn’t teach ___ to my children, that they would choose ___? I’ve heard pastors say before that God only had 2 children, Adam and Eve and they didn’t obey Him. That is supposed to put into perspective the idea that if God couldn’t even get His children to follow that one rule He gave them, then how can we expect to do any better. But that has somehow never really comforted me. In fact, to me that always sounded more like an excuse. “Well, how can you expect me to be a great parent, God couldn’t even do it.” But I think the point is and what I realized today is…that somehow God designed this thing called life so that each and everyone who lives it is faced with the same choice Adam and Eve had to make and that is…where are you going to put your faith and trust and who’s rules are you going to follow? Are you going to trust God and your parents who want what’s best for your life and usually have more wisdom than you do because they have more experience in life, or are you going to declare yourself to be the leader, to create your own rules of life to follow.
In that aha moment, I realized that all I can do is teach, train, lead, instill, share, etc. all that I can and then pray that they each made the right choice and know that it is their choice to make. No matter how well I did my job, I can neither predict nor control the outcome of their choice. We all know that one good Christian family that seemed to do everything right yet they may have that one child that has chosen the wrong path. The only thing we can do at that point is trust God and believe that the seeds of faith we sowed in them for years will take root and grow and one day they will realize that their choice has led them down the wrong path and they will repent and return to the narrow way and then rejoice with them when it happens.