The Author and Finisher of Our Faith
by Michael McPherson
In the beginning, God. And when he spoke worlds were created. Heavens and the earth. The sun and the moon, planets and stars. All living things. Everything that creeps, flies, walks and grows. All manner of plants and things that swim. He spoke and it came into being. As the light is pure and clean, radiant and bright, a ball of fire that purifies through heat and in which no impurity can stand, so it is with the Lord. Pure and clean, radiant and bright as the sun, before whom no one can stand. The beginning and the end, alpha and omega. The first and the last of what I shall see.
Beautiful to behold, splendor unimaginable, captivating, and breathtaking I am told. I gaze upon his beauty and marvel at his presence. A robe of light, a train thousands of feet in length, a crown of light, and eyes like fire. Colors and rainbows, jewels and delight, I gaze and marvel, no words to describe what I see, no words to describe his might. My God, my God, how wonderful art thou, how beautiful and great, I am compelled to bow.
Pure as light, unmixed, darkness has no place and cannot exist, fear is not here, only God, Jehovah to some, Elohim to others, Father and brother, mother and judge, creator we call. Fire pours forth from his throne in the days ahead, yet from the same throne flows waters of life, that quench every desire and strengthen all hope. Fire and water stream from his throne, while thousands upon thousands minister to his needs. Who is like him, none can say, one that is both consuming fire and life giving water.
God Almighty is his name, perfect in every way, beauty I cannot describe and in whose presence I faint. Awe struck and overwhelmed, I cannot stand except he commands me so, the King, Father to all, the one who stops time, walks on water, divides the seas and heals the sick. A voice like rushing waters, a blinding light that resurrects the dead and turns water into wine.
All souls are mine he has proclaimed. Who am I but a grain of sand. I was created, I am not my own. I awake, my eyes are opened and now I see I have been created, a pot, an urn, a vessel, a mold of clay in the hands of my God, Jehovah is his name.
He created my soul in his image. A soul that thinks, feels, weeps, laughs. I am free to decide, imagine and create, to rationalize. I am not an animal, but made in the image of God Almighty, a microcosm of the infinite, and he called me good. But the soul was not alive and without body. So he gathered dust in his hands, surrounded my soul with flesh and bone and breathed in my nostrils. My soul became alive, I took my first breath and my chest heaved and then again and again, I was alive, body and soul.
His breath was in me, his Spirit gave me life, I was a seed in him – he in me and me in him.
I was born naked and not ashamed. Born without fear and guilt, innocent and pure in heart, I walked with God, spoke to God. He gave me authority over all he had created on earth. I gave the living things names and was a steward over the land. And then he gave me woman, flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone. I had the capacity to love and be intimate and to share. He said it was not good for me to be alone and so it was done. And God saw that it was good.
There was no separation between me and my Lord. We walked together in the mist of the morning. We talked about the work he had done, he delighted in me as a father in a son. And I delighted in him. There was nothing I lacked, nothing to fear, but beauty abounded here and there. My wisdom grew and my mind developed, his light was on me, and it was good. I was in him and he was in me.
The Lord gave me dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth. There was gold and precious stones and rivers that roared and birds that sung. The world was mine to behold he said, eat of its fruits and all that I have planted. Only one thing I command thee, my Lord told me, do not eat of that fruit, that which hangs from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil for the day you do, you shall surely die.
A covenant he made with me and Eve, He said “ye shall dwell in paradise and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God. But know this, the soul that sins shall surely die.” I knew not of this death he spoke of, I was alive and naïve, I knew not wrong only right, and beauty I knew, his beauty constantly in my sight.
Like my Father I knew wisdom was a thing to be desired, I could love and feel joy, I had a mind that could name thousands of things and perceive beauty. I was pure in his eyes, for he said I was good.
The serpent, the Devil himself disguised in the form of a beast, the accuser of God’s people, came to Eve. He said that which is pleasant to sight, the fruit your Father told thee not to eat, how could such a thing of beauty be bad for thee? On the contrary, the fruit on the tree will make you wise and you will be like your Father, for wisdom is a thing to be desired. You shall surely not die he said. So when Eve saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to me, and I ate.
Woe, woe, I have transgressed the covenant the Lord made with me.
Woe, woe, something has happened. A change has come over me. For the first time I could no longer see only beauty. I hear a voice in my head. I am conscious of my body, of myself. I sense I am apart from God, my nakedness now haunts me. I look down at my genitals and I feel ashamed. A voice tells me I must cover, I feel emotions I have never felt before; shame, embarrassment. I must run and hide from God, he must not see me this way, the fear is overwhelming, the humiliation constant. What has happened to me?
The tree of knowledge of good and evil – Hebrew: the tree of acquaintance with both beauty and misery. The tree of acquaintance with both God and the Devil.
I have been deceived. Eve has been deceived. What we thought would make us wise instead has acquainted us with misery and affliction. Woe is me. The fruit I ate has changed me, I know have a spirit that did not exist, a spirit that controls my mind and body. An inner voice, a conscience not of God, but of my own desire and urges. Where before I was only conscious of God and what he has wrought I am now in a state of self-consciousness. What the Lord called good, my inner voice calls wrong. I I feel no longer worthy to be in his presence
God has given me over to the spirit of my own mind.
I feel urges and desires never felt before. Envy, deceit, jealousy, anger, a desire to hurt. My God what has happened to me? I lie and slander; I am unclean.
Things have gotten worse. There is now a second voice I hear in my mind. It sounds just like the voice of the serpent. He urges me to fight, to kill. He encourages my desire to fornicate, to seek the desires of my heart. Now even when my mind is still, my body shivers in delight of things I should not touch, my eyes grope for my neighbor’s wife, gold and silver beckon my hands to grab and thrust in the sack to take and hoard.
My God, my God what has happened to me? I no longer talk to the Lord, we no longer walk together. I no longer hear his sweet voice and loving embrace. I have been cast out of Eden. Eve and I must toil the rest of our days until we die. Why, oh why have I done this to me?
The memory of God grows distant, my mind is dim. I am the captain of my fate. I must fulfill me, seek my happiness and destiny. The spirit of my mind guides me. Yet there is another voice, yes the voice of the serpent. I must fight it for I know this is not right. Kill, destroy he tells me. Give into what is pleasant in my eyes and excites my flesh. God is gone he says. My mind grows distant. I try to remember the Lord.
Men now come and they say they know God and we must follow them. Yes, God, I remember. If this is the path back to Eden then we must go. My sons fall by the way side, they kill and lie and cheat. Boast and shout they do, in the midst of rain and pig snouts. Even the meek, quiet and shy, inside have the desire to kill and hide.
But here is one, yes my boy Abel he has said God spoke to him, and that by the blood of a lamb must we reconcile. Abel then kills a lamb and holds it up to God and he says that the Lord spoke to him again. “Your sins are forgiven, my son.” What words are these, that I have never heard. My other, Cain, sees and hears but from him goes out fury and hate – and he kills my Abel. Cain what have you done? A voice in his head urged him, prodded him, the desire was already there but now it was inflamed and the voice grew louder and louder: “kill Abel, kill Abel.”
The memory of God grows faint, my mind is dim. I am the captain of my fate and my desires are to be filled. My destiny awaits. Oh wait, there is a man over there. I know God he says, come follow me. So I chase and follow. I remember so faint and dim. Worship this, worship there, sacrifice that, all to a man and to satisfy my mind – worship I am to do – imprinted on my heart.
But my worship and sacrifice were not to God, but to edifices, idols and spirits of the devil. I did not know, I was deceived, I cry.
I was innocent as a sheep and a new born babe. When I transgressed my Lord He gave me a spirit I did not know, He gave me a spirit born out of dust, born from my flesh, subject to my desires. I know misery and affliction, evil shall be my days until I return to the dust from which I came.
My soul is imprinted with a desire to worship, but I worship not him. My soul is imprinted with his law, for I know when I transgress. My new spirit betroths me to my flesh and to death, for I envy, gossip, hate, lust and covet. I have become acquainted with misery and affliction. I have known beauty and good, and now I will know evil until the day I die.
My very spirit makes me unclean and so I will hide, in shame, as a leper from him, who is clean. “Unclean, unclean,” my mind yells so I hide and cover myself from God. I have become a sinner. Woe is me, woe is me.