The Bark Collar
And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden . . . The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 2:8-9
Our family dog loves us intensely but he’s territorial and barks fiercely at strangers. When we have company over, we must lock him away, but he still barks incessantly. So, we bought one of those bark collars. Before I put hit on him though, I had to know what the shock felt like. You could say I was being conscientious, unwilling to do something to him that I hadn’t experienced. That wasn’t it though. I just needed to know. I once volunteered for being tasered – it was horrible. I used to want to know what being pepper sprayed was like – until I experienced it. I just have this innate curiosity to experience everything. And what did I learn by being shocked? I learned that I didn’t want to be shocked anymore.
This may be amusing when it comes to bark collars, but this is a life problem. Not all experiences are healthy. Some are downright destructive. Still, I want to experience it. If you tell me that I can have a healthy, happy life, living inside God’s boundaries, I inherently want to know what’s outside the boundaries. I just need to try all my options – even when I know it’s not right or healthy.
I’m not alone here. This is our problem as humans. You may not identify with the bark collar experience, but we’ve all got this propensity for following ourselves. In today’s passage, we read how God created choice and free will. In the garden, man originally lived in paradise with no illness, conflict, pain, or sorrow. Man was to live with God forever in utopia. God however, in his wisdom, planted two trees. One – the tree of life – granted eternal life to whomever ate it. The other tree though – the tree of the knowledge of good and evil – was off limits. It was a tree specifically designed by God to give man a choice – Obey God or follow yourself.
This was the original choice laid out before Adam and Eve and it’s the choice presented to us. We may not have access to the literal fruit of immortality, but daily, we have a choice. We can follow God, experiencing authentic life. Or we can exercise our free will, doing whatever we want. Yes, we may experience all life has to offer, but we’ll find that our way hurts. Thankfully, God is full of love and mercy. When we discover that our way is misery, he always welcomes us back with open arms so that we may know the life, joy, and peace found only in him.