Dearest Friends of CRN.info & Analysis:
Sometime today, if all goes according to schedule, I will receive my last severance check from the church I served for nearly ten years of my life. That’s what I got for nearly ten-years of service to one church: six weeks of severance and no going away party. I didn’t even get to go back and say good-bye. Just a ’sign this paper, clean out your office, and leave your door unlocked and keys on the desk’ was all I got. Life goes on.
So now I’m in a rather interesting phase of life. Even though I preached the Gospel with as much conviction and vigor as anyone, and I am as orthodox and conservative as the preachers I listen to (Carson, Wells, Keller; almost too conservative for CRN.info!) it wasn’t enough. The Lord had other plans for me and my family. So I have been hired to work at a local video store as an assistant store manager, I have gone back to graduate school to work on my M.Ed in Moderate/Intensive Special Education, and I am staying the community where the church I served is located which means I still hear the rumors, still see the people, and still have to drive by periodically and see the place that was my home for nearly 10 years.
Today I will receive the last paycheck I will ever receive from a church. It’s a weird feeling: Euphoric on one hand since I have always had issues with ‘paid’ ministry; heartbreaking on the other because I no longer have a pulpit to preach from and because, despite my flaws that were evidently too much for some, I really did love my people. Like I said, it’s weird. Churches are strange creatures indeed. This is a difficult period of life because all I have known since 1991 is church work: Preaching, teaching, funerals, weddings, etc. Now I am learning about Diversity in the Classroom, the Rights of Special Needs students, and how to teach phonics. Strange indeed.
Anyhow, I have decided that one of the important things I have to do, as part of this so-called reclamation project, is rededicate myself to the Word of God. I have thought long and hard about this because there is a large part of me that really wants to blog about the last ten years of my life and the church that so unceremoniously disrupted my life and that of my family. Instead, I am rededicating myself to Scripture. Thus I am starting at the beginning, Genesis, and taking a long, slow, pilgrimage through the Bible–one chapter at a time–and blogging my way through it.
This little post is to let you know what has been going on since the middle of July and why I may have been not a little tense. I have sadly taken out some of it out on some of you and I am sorry I did. I haven’t slept well for the last 8 months and my stomach is constantly upset–can’t shake the nerves, the tears, or the hurt. Good friends and a new church home have helped immensely. I’m trying to learn, trying to grow, trying to make sense of God’s will in all of this and it is difficult. There are no answers that seem satisfactory as I was never given a reason why I was asked to leave.
Anyhow, as a shameless personal plug, if you would like to follow me on my journey through the Scripture, I invite you to visit my blog: Pilgrim at Lake View Avenue. There you can follow as I chronicle my way through the Bible. I am not making any judgments. I am not consulting the 1500 theological books sitting in bookcases in my house–the ones that are no longer serving my former congregation. I am reading through the Bible, slowly, and listening to God’s voice as if for the first time. I am reading the Bible as if I have never read it before–getting a fresh perspective, fresh water, fresh bread. I would be honored and greatly appreciative if you would join me on the journey–even if only periodically you pick up your Back-pack, lace up your boots, and travel with me.
Below is where my journey led me today–Genesis 2. Yesterday’s post is for Genesis 1. As always, I appreciate the friendships I have here at CRN.info–especially the other writers who have been so gracious as to pray for me and my family and counsel me behind the scenes. Thanks again.
It is hard to start a project so massive. I think maybe I’ve taken on too much. Day to day. My course load at CSU is rather intense; 10 hours of graduate work is nothing to scoff at. Still I’m going on with my project to stay grounded in Scripture during this period of transition. If I don’t stay grounded, it is likely I will fall apart. So, Genesis 2.
I am reading this as if it were the first time I have ever read the Bible. How would the first time reader or, better, listener, have heard this chapter? What would have gone through their minds? Fresh eyes will hopefully lend fresh insight and fresh understanding. I come at this chapter, Genesis 2, then with mounds of questions:
Why is there a ‘second’ account of creation? Wasn’t the first enough? Did we need more detail?
Why does the Pishon river get more attention than its more famous brother, the Euphrates? Or even the Tigris?
Why did God rest on the seventh day? Was God really tired?
Does this chapter ‘fit’ with the previous chapter? Can they be reconciled?
Why did God create man to work? Why not create a self-sustaining world that never required any maintenance?
Why are we given so much information about this garden that God ‘planted’?
Why are we told about the gold in Havilah? The bdellium and onyx stones? Will knowledge of these ancient things give us greater insight into the mysteries of God? Will knowledge that there was good gold in Havilah, a place I cannot go now, give me greater wisdom unto salvation?
Why did God create the possibility for man to do the wrong thing by creating a tree ‘of the knowledge of good and evil’?
Did Adam and Eve understand what God meant when he said, ‘On the day you eat of it you shall surely die’? Did they know what death meant?
When man was in the garden, with God Almighty, why did God decided it was ‘not good’ for man to be alone? Did God really expect Adam to find a suitable companion from among the oxen, beavers, and rattlesnakes?
What sort of drug did God use to cause Adam to fall into a deep sleep? Or is this a subtle way of saying that without sleep the creation of the woman would have caused man a great deal of pain?
Why did God entrust Adam to name all the animals? Did Adam ever have any regrets about the platypus? Did he have to think twice about the armadillo? And where did okapi come from?
Why did God shape the woman out of flesh but the man out of dust?
I wonder what the first night of sex was like? I wonder how they discovered it? I wonder who was on top? Did they do it for hours like teenagers who cannot get enough of the joyous discovery? Or was it like 10 minutes and done? Were either of them disappointed? Was it awkward or were they pros?
I wonder what it was like to not be ashamed? I wonder why we are told they weren’t ashamed? Is it to shame us who are ashamed?
I wonder what Adam and Eve looked like? Were they the quintessential buff models of physical perfection? Or were they rough, hairy, and reeking of body odor and bad breath?
Why are told more than once that ‘God put the man in the garden he had formed’?
What kind of work did Adam do in the garden without tools like shovels, hoes, spades, edgers, post-hole diggers, backhoes, front-loaders, and Chevy pick-up trucks? How did he get along without mulch and manure? What about a John Deere? How did he manage without that?!?
If chapter 1 teaches me a great deal about God, chapter 2 teaches me a great deal about man. Man was formed, shaped, created for work, given instructions, a consumer, married, unhappy as a loner, creative, fragile, and in love. And even in the midst of all this, all this newness and wonderment, man somehow survived. I mean, if I have this many questions, and more, imagine Adam’s questions. One day he wasn’t; then he was. Did he have to learn? Or was he like Neo: Plug him in and upload the knowledge?
I wonder what Adam’s first words were? What was the first breath like? Did he play Yahtzee?
I wonder what it is like to be in the presence of Almighty God, in a really cool garden, and yet still be rather lonely–lonely enough that God Almighty recognizes it and decides that despite all the ‘good’ stuff he had created, man’s loneliness is ‘not good.’
I wonder why God was not offended that man was lonely enough to need a companion other than God?