Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Take Two

Within the pages of the Bible two distinctly different stories are told of the creation of mankind. One says man and woman were created together as a single act. The other record says they were created separately — the man first, the animals next, and finally, at the end of the sixth day of creation, the woman.

It would be explainable to have two creation stories in the pages of any other book compiled over hundreds of years. But, the Bible? It would also be an understandable editorial oversight if the two stories were discreetly tucked in divergent places. But, they are not. The first chapter of Genesis holds the first telling. And the second is just a page away in the next chapter.

So, what’s going on? Why two tales of one event? The first telling—Genesis one—is an overview of creation week culminating in the creation of man and a well-deserved Sabbath rest. The second is like putting a magnifying glass over day six. It’s the expanded and explained telling of the personal creation of mankind. We discover, as the focus narrows on humanity, where the God of the universe places His attention and interest when He directs His gaze to this little blue-green orb. He created Earth for us. And He is unapologetically interested in us. It is in this human-focused magnification of day six that we first encounter God’s personal name—Yahweh. Genesis one is a creation overview. Genesis two is personal—names are given.

Adam, created at the beginning of day six is given the job of naming all the animals. Just before the task begins, God explains, “It is not good for man to be alone.” — something every wife would agree with — “I will make a companion who will help him” (Genesis 2:18, NLT). Then, after making that statement, God creates the animals. All day Adam is looking for a creature like himself. All day he is naming animal after animal. And all day he is becoming less and less convinced that any one of these beasts—beautiful as they are—will be a suitable equal for himself.

Finally, at the end of the day, God puts Adam to sleep and creates a woman. The need for a general anaesthetic is made obvious when God yanks out a chunk of Adams side and uses it to assist in the creation of earth’s first wife. God is making a helper to stand beside Adam—not above or below. She is to be by his side—his equal. The symbolism is clear.

When Adam wakes up, the second time, he sees the most glorious creation his eyes have ever beheld. His jaw drops and he exclaims, “At last!” He recognises the woman as the fulfilment of God’s statement at the beginning of the day—here is the promised and desired companion. And she is stunning!

In the same way as he has met every other life this day, Adam adds a name to the created being brought before him—this one will be called ‘woman’. In this marriage moment, Adam does something every wife secretly believes her husband capable of — although many have yet to hear it. He intones a poem in her honour: “This one is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh! She will be called ‘woman,’ because she was taken from ‘man’” (v 23).

The next verse provides the reason for this magnification of day six—and explains why it is recorded adjacent to the creation narrative. “This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one” (v 24). God created us—male and female—to be completed in community. It is not good for us to be alone. We need each other. And in the marriage union there is something truly beautiful—oneness of spirit, mind and body.

Just as God created the Earth with us in mind, so He created us with unity in mind. And this explains the zoom lens of Genesis chapter two. God concludes His creation narrative and begins the rest of the human story with this in-depth treatment of the topic of humanity at it’s best—in a relationship where “neither of them felt any shame” (v25).

The Real You

I remember, in fifth grade, when I broke up with my first girlfriend. As primary school students, the relationship had been more hand holding and hanging out than hugs and kisses. We were special friends. But, for some reason, it was over. I don’t remember the reasons. I only remember the reaction—her reaction to the way I treated her after our breakup.
Our class was walking to the music room. The girl who, just days before, I believed to be the most beautiful girl in the world, was walking a short distance in front of a group of us boys. One of my friends said loudly, “Hey I heard you broke up with Shelley.”
He had said it loud enough for her to hear. Trying to be tough, I wanted to act like Shelley was just a plain-jane nobody—and that I wasn’t hurting about the breakup. So, I responded loudly, “Yeah, I never really liked her anyway!”
The guys all laughed. One of them patted me on the back. When Shelley turned the corner to go into the building, I saw her eyes. More precisely, I saw the tears streaming from her eyes, down her cheeks. My words had cut her deeply.
I felt horrible. When I got home from school, I fell on my bed and cried. Why had I said that? Why had I been so mean? Shelley had been my best friend. I missed all the laughs, walks and talks we had together. And now, I had made her cry.
Before I left that bed, I made a decision. It was a promise to myself that stopped me from dating for the next five years. I promised, “I am not going to date another girl until I trust myself to treat her with respect when we breakup.” It seems very negative—expecting to breakup with someone before you even start dating them. But, I didn’t want to ever hurt someone else the way I hurt Shelley.
It wasn’t until year 10 that I trusted myself enough to have another girlfriend. She was lovely. We dated for a while. Then we broke up. I hope I treated her with respect. I dated a few more people before I got married. And in each relationship, it has always been my goal to treat my partner and friend with respect in all situations.
It has been said that the real you is who you are when nobody is looking. I think differently. I think, the real you is revealed when you choose to be better than you were last time. If you make this commitment, it will change your life. Learn from your mistakes. Choose to act differently next time. And challenge yourself to follow through. No one can make you say, do or become anything. Your actions are truly yours alone. And they reveal who you are becoming. Choose wisely and grow. Grow into the real you!

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8, 9)
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

God’s Plan

When I was a child, I loved riding my BMX bike. I even raced for a while. (That’s another story!)

I was known for being a bit crazy on my bike. I attempted to jump creek-beds, hay bails and anything else in front of which I could build a ramp.

One day, when I was about to go for a ride, my mum stopped me.

“You be careful, Davy,” she said.

“I will, Mum,” I answered without thought.

“I’m serious, Davy. I don’t want you riding near the road.”

“OK. I won’t.”

She wasn’t convinced. “I have seen you boys going down the steep sides of the cutaway. And I don’t want you doing that.”

The main road, just a short ride from our house, had been cut through a hill and both sides worked as massive half-pipe ramps. It was our favourite place to ride. Kids had carved jumps into the drainage ditches. It was a BMX playground. It was also a long straight stretch in which cars liked to speed.

“Look at me, Davy,” Mum took my 8-year old chin in her hand, “I don’t want you anywhere near that road. You could get killed.”

I raised my eyebrows in surprise, “I can’t die, Mum!”

My mum was amazed I could look into her eyes while saying this. Clearly, I believed I was telling the truth.

“What do you mean you can’t die?” she asked.

“You always tell me God has great plans for my life,” I answered seriously, “and I haven’t done anything for Him yet!”

Mum couldn’t help it—she smiled. “Well, God does have great plans for your life,” she said with a twinkle in her eyes. “But you could still get hurt if a car hit you! Please don’t ride near or on the road. Please?”

I was beaten. Love has a powerful way of drawing obedience. “OK, Mum.”

“Thank you.”

And now, years later, I say, “No Mum, thank you!”

My Mum taught me both that God has great things in store for me and to be safe while waiting for Him to reveal His plan—sometimes it takes awhile!

“For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” —Jeremiah 29:11

Dave Edgren ~ Story: Teller, Author, Trainer ~

BOOK DAVE NOW! Dave Edgren is passionate about creating a values-based storytelling culture. In his engaging and often hilarious way,...