I was driving down the road in my Jeep, deep in thought. A newscaster was doing his job in the background, but I wasn’t paying much attention to him. I wasn’t, at least, until he uttered the phrase, “Human remains were found in Paradise.” That string of words jarred me away from whatever my other reflections happened to be at that moment.
Being who I am, my mind began to ask a seriesof questions. “Have they discovered the site of the Garden of Eden? Have theydiscovered bodies at that holy spot? Who could it possibly be—certainly notAdam and Eve?”
Those questions were brief and fleeting—only lasting a few seconds. Then I realized the anchorman was referring to lives that had been wasted in the recent wildfires of California. Paradise is the modern-day city, not the Garden of Eden. What had instantly flashed across my mind as an astounding discovery quickly gave way to the saddening reality that lives had been (and continue to be) lost in that tragic, natural disaster.
In this preacher’s mind, first thoughts were of Scripture. Adam and Eve had been banned from that original paradise, and
The sobering fact is that it’s lost—at least for now. There’s nothing we can do to bring it back, find it, or restore it. We can only rely on the Lord to usher us back to that euphorious state one day.
As for tragedies like the California wildfire, we live with them day in and day out as a result of paradise lost. Sin came into the world, and everything got messed up. Curses were distributed like candy at Halloween, and nothing’s ever been the same since. We can only imagine what it must have been like before that occurred.
This, of course, begs the question that myriadsof people have asked over the years. How could a loving God do that to us?Folks have attempted to answer that question in hundreds of different ways.None of those answers are very satisfying, but we keep trying nonetheless.
He Owes Us Nothing
The truth of the matter is, the Lord doesn’t owe us anything. We’re the ones who screwed up (and continue to do so). We’re lucky He doesn’t just snuff us all out and save Himself the troubles we seem to heap on Him.
On the contrary, He comes in the form of a man, tells us about the cure for our human condition (sinfulness), and dies a horrible death to become our way out. His Resurrection put the seal on his salvific work and is the hallmark that gives us hope of one day returning to Eden under His care and watchful eye.
While He doesn’t owe us anything, He’s given us everything. Thanks be to God!
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]