He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life. Genesis 3:24
In my addiction, I had a pretty good idea of how disruptive it was going to be for me to find recovery. Telling my employer, confessing to my wife, going to treatment, and attending recovery meetings were all things I desperately wanted to avoid. So, I was simply never going to get there on my own. I needed a push. It had to be made very clear to me that I couldn’t continue to be married and practice medicine while using drugs. To get that message to sink in, my family and my career had to be taken away from me. It was only in that profound loss that I became willing to do whatever it took to find recovery. Without consequences, I’d still be hopelessly addicted to opioids. I can now look back and be thankful for consequences, but at the time, I thought my life was over. As it turned out, that was just beginning.
This is how God made the world to work. God creates and man rebels. God orchestrates consequences and then he recreates out of the ashes. Today’s passage though, is all about the fall and the consequences of the original sin. Today’s passage establishes a pattern, teaching us about the nature of God and how his world works.
In the story, Adam and Eve had just eaten of the forbidden fruit when God confronted them. What is this that you have done? Then, God outlined the terrible consequences of their disobedience. Physical illness and interpersonal conflict were born that day. All creation fell as thorns sprang up from the ground. Man became mortal as his existence became defined by toil and struggle. Finally, God revealed the worst consequence. Man was to be exiled from the garden. Where Adam and Eve had previously enjoyed an intimate relationship with their creator, they had now spoiled that relationship. God didn’t abandon them, but rather they turned from him, forever exiling themselves from their previous garden experience.
This was the worst consequence of following my own path. In my addiction, my faith was the first casualty. In following me, I turned my back on God. Sadly, that loss didn’t make me embrace radical change to find recovery. So, God allowed much more tangible consequences, for which I’m now thankful. Still, I don’t want to ever go through that again. Consequences hurt.
This is the lesson of the garden – That our sin always has consequences, the worst of which is that it turns us from our relationship with God.