My little community just experienced a tragedy; the community I live in as a whole, but especially the community I worship in. A young man lost his life. He is a cop, a young adult, a friend…a son. His parents are in my Sunday School class which is giving me an up close reunion with grief and grieving. Out of sheer exhaustion and preparation for the final preparations, they were not in class Sunday morning. Which was good. It was food for our class and for them. They deserve a moment of rest that was all their own. And our class deserved to dive into the scripture and look for answers that they wouldn’t have needed to hear at this time. Our teacher did an amazing job at attacking those questions and answers. I was late, so I’m not fully sure where he started…but I know where he ended.
To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”
And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ 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.” (Gen. 3:16-19, ESV)
I’m not here to tell you about what my teacher said. Because here is where God took me on a walk. I used to always worry about getting sidetracked at church because it seemed disrespectful. But what if the pastor and the teachers…what if their job is to get us started? And the sidetracks we set out on are where we each are actually supposed to go! “Not all who wander are lost.”* So, here is where I went with this scripture.
God’s curse on man is that the ground is cursed. As a woman, I haven’t always seen this as a very fair pair of curses. “Woman: you will have searing pain, unbearable pain, blinding pain that will result in the birth of a child. Sometimes a stillborn. Man: you’re going to have to farm.” When you think about it that shallowly, its very discouraging. But I was hearing/reading this scripture this week through the lens of death, and I finally realized the brevity of these words.
…cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life…
A farmer in Idaho deals with the drought plaguing his state that has cost his family three-quarters of their yearly income. He has eaten of this dirt in pain.
An orchard owner in Virginia faces a late frost that will destroy all of his fruits and profits for the year. He has eaten of this dirt in pain.
A seed falls and sprouts and grows into an oak tree that is hit head on by a teenage girl who has lost control of her car in the rain. She has eaten of this dirt in pain.
A family buries their youngest son. In the most true, literal sense of this phrase: they have eaten of this dirt in pain.
At this point, we catch back up with my Sunday School teacher. He is talking about the fact that the fall, these curses, and sin are our inheritance from Adam. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always thought of an inheritance is getting something good…something treasured from someone in my past. This is not a good, treasured inheritance. The pain of children and the pain of the dirt is not a happy inheritance. Which is when I thought of another father from scripture. Father Abraham had many sons. And Father Abraham’s inheritance for his children…is blessings. He would have descendants as numerous as the stars! He would be blessed! He would be a blessing! Now that is an inheritance.
The fact is…we inherited both these things and much more. But what I have realized since Sunday morning is this: I refuse Adam’s inheritance. When I have eaten of this dirt in pain, when you have eaten of this dirt in pain…refuse Adam’s inheritance. Refuse to acknowledge it and focus instead on our other inheritance: Abraham would be blessed with descendants; one of his descendants, David, would be blessed with a member of His family on an everlasting throne; and that member of his family would leave, as an inheritance, the promise of everlasting life for all those who believed in Him and called out to the one who sent Him.
So, no matter what pain you are eating of right now, remember your inheritance. Turn to the scripture and remind yourself of the promises, pain, and perfection. Ask the hard questions. God is a big boy…and He can handle the scrutiny. And when this cursed dirt we walk has you down, make the choice to refuse that first inheritance.
Choose blessings over pain.
Choose life over death.
Choose an inheritance of stars…over and inheritance of dirt.