Questions-Day 2 (2/14/13)
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Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. The serpent said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
Raising children is definitely an art, not a science and it requires that the parent consider the uniqueness of each child. Our daughter Meagan was so smart and it was a challenge for me to admit I was wrong and she was right when giving certain instructions to her. Meagan would hear the instruction and follow it literally, but she certainly could exercise her discretion on the "gray areas". On more than one occasion, we just had to laugh and over time we learned to adapt our communication to be very specific.
The church parsonage for Nocona UMC is immediately beside the church. What a treat it was for our children to be able to run 100 feet across the church yard and "go home" after church while Dad greeted everyone on the front steps after worship. Meagan was 4 years old while we were in Nocona and on a beautiful Sunday after church in May she couldn't wait to run home. The parsonage had a beautiful screened in porch on the side of the house that shared the church yard. Just the afternoon before our son Micah had a birthday party. The porch was filled with unused bottles of liquid used to "blow bubbles."
Meagan had on a beautiful new dress and as Shawn and I both knew she wanted to "blow bubbles" on the porch, we sternly stressed, "do not get any bubbles or the bubble stuff on your dress." Shawn walked with the kids to the parsonage and I continued to greet people. One of the members walked back up the steps and said, "we just love having a family in the parsonage again, but your daughter must be having some kind of fun on that porch." I chuckled politely, but inside I was thinking "what did we leave on the porch", "what did I say to Meagan", and "did I say it to her clearly enough"?
As I walked across the grassy yard I could hear Meagan giggling and saw her little frame gliding across the porch. Approaching the porch I noticed that Meagan had stripped off her new dress and put it on top of the table on the porch, along with all of her clothing. Meagan had dropped some of the liquid bubbles on the smooth concrete floor and noticed that it became very slick. She then proceeded to empty every remaining bottle onto the concrete. There she was, wearing only what God gave her, on the porch. Placing her feet on the brick footer at one side of the porch she was sending her naked little frame across the porch, giggling all the way.
I opened the door to the porch, trying not to burst out in laughter -- you know that time when something is so funny you want to laugh, but you know you can't because you are the parental figure -- and said in an inquiring way, "Meagan. What are you doing?" Her only reply was, "My dress is not dirty!" and she pointed to the table.
She followed our directions as her parents! Her dress was clean.
Unlike our 4 year old's acute attention to the words, the serpent raises doubt in God's words. One translation reads, "Did God really say . . ."
We can quickly get lost in conversations that inquire about the serpent and the serpent's identity, but for the sake of our thoughts here I'd like to narrow our focus. In a very simple, uncomplicated understanding, the serpent represents what is contrary to God's desire for His creation.
Where in your life have you strayed from Scripture, not listened to the details and the nuances of God's desire expressed in Scripture? Where have you wandered away because you like the freedom to do what you want? Now is a good time to ask the same question of the serpent, but with the intent of leading you back to God, not away from God - - "What did God really say?"
©Dr. Burt Palmer, Sr. Pastor Polk Street UMC
All Scripture references are from the New International Version.