Then the Lord said to [Cain], “Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him.16 Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden. – Genesis 4:15-16
Did you grow up around here? Jock Ficken (PLI Co-Executive Leader) recently offered this question as a means to invite conversation with people. By asking this question, you can begin a conversation that will lead to hearing someone’s story. That may lead to telling them your story…and ultimately to God’s story. God’s story connects us to an eternity of blessing, hope, life, and salvation.
And salvation is the thing we need most. For not only do we have a story, we all grew up “east of Eden.” And there is a problem with this that is too often lost on us. We’ve made our lives as comfortable as possible. We’ve enjoyed incredible blessings this side of eternity. We have luxuries. We enjoy beauty. We’ve become very adept at making our lives seem quite comfortable.
We embrace the glimpses of glory and think of these things as the ultimate which are in reality only a pale reflection of the eternal delights of God. This is the rub. C.S. Lewis says it well:
We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
We’ve numbed ourselves to the greater blessings of God, and have lost sight of the splendid glory of paradise. East of Eden is a place of sin and sickness, death and disease, conflict and disappointment. We’ve covered over all that with a thin veil of glitz, excitement, distraction, and addictions that will never ultimately satisfy us.
I’m thinking, as I write this, of beautiful sunsets, gorgeous fields of flowers, delightful moments with friends and family, new experiences of travel and adventure, opportunities to see the amazing monuments of man. These are gifts of God. They are not to be disparaged or taken for granted. But they must never blind us to what we have lost and that which we hope for in the Paradise of God.
Jesus said, “My Father’s house has many rooms. If that were not true, would I have told you that I’m going to prepare a place for you? If I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again. Then I will bring you into my presence so that you will be where I am” (John 14:2-3).
Enjoy the glimpses of glory – those dim reflections of the Paradise of God that he allows you these days. And remember you have grown up east of Eden, not in it. One Day we’ll go there and experience the fullness of the Garden of God’s delight. I look forward to that Day. I hope you do too!