WE CAN'T, BUT HE CAN


By Akin Ojumu

Choices! Choices!! Life is full of choices.

Duh! That’s an oxymoron…a no brainer. Everyone probably makes a thousand of them every single hour. What’s not so always obvious though is the motive behind those pesky little decisions people make on a daily basis. The motive usually hides behind the shuttered windows of the recesses of the soul.

What informs our choices? Why do we do what we do? What powers the engine of our choices? What drives the decisions we make?

The subject is one that I’ve brooded over, on and off, over the years. Yet it remains a difficult one for me to write about. Even now I struggle to find the right choice of word to express my flailing thoughts. It is like being asked to give a vivid description of the physical appearance of nothingness. Oh yeah! You go ahead and give that your best shot.

What's life without a choice? We live and breathe this stuff. There is no hiding place from choice; it follows us everywhere we go. We cannot avoid it, there is no refusing it. To not make a choice, is a choice in and of itself. Just as our body is made up of clusters of over a hundred trillion cells, our present state in life is an embodiment of the collective choices we’ve made up to that point in our lives. We are, in essence, a consequence of our choices.

From the very beginning we have been condemned to a life devoted to making choices. Since the day we bawled our way into this world, we became the CEO of a Fortune 500 Company called, Choice PLC; the maker of choice. Even the course of our present existence was set in motion by a single choice. The one made on our behalf by Mrs. Eve Adam, the day she took and ate the forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. It was a turning point in humanity. From that day on, humankind and choice became locked in an eternal embrace of life and death. In order to unlock the mystery behind what gives voice to our choice, the Garden of Eden will be the logical place to start.

Backpacked and all, off to Eden we go.

It was a typical day in Eden’s Garden. The sprawling estate was in a pristine state. A perfectly gorgeous summer morning; the clear blue skies showered sparkles of light on the luscious green trees that swayed gently to the rhythm of the slow-moving wind, traveling from the west. The air was filled with pure joy and music, all creation singing praises to their LORD and Maker. The sweet-smelling savor of their praises suffused the atmosphere, ascending up to the throne of Glory. O what a joy! What exhilaration!!!

Such was the day before evil took center stage. Who could have imagined that a great evil was about to befall the earth on this fateful day?

Now the serpent was a wily little bastard. He was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. So, the chief of mischief, hell bent on messing up humanity to prove a point to God of our unworthiness of God’s loving attention, came to Eve to get her to choose self over God. The following dialogue ensues on that momentous day as described in Genesis 3:1-5.

Serpent: “Yo Eve, how have you been?

Eve: “Hi. I’m sorry, do I know you?”

Serpent: “Hey girl, don’t you remember me? I’m Lucif, the shining one.”

Eve: “Hi Lucif. I’m so sorry. I don't remember you. So, how have you been and what brings to this part of the realm?”

Serpent: “That’s alright. I’m cool. Just going to and fro enjoying the scenery.”

Eve: “That’s nice. My husband is not home right now. Can I get you something to drink or eat while you wait for him?”

Serpent: “I won’t be staying long. Hmm...uhm...I won't mind a fruit from one of them trees from your garden. But I heard God told you not eat from any of the trees of the garden?’”

Eve: “Not at all. We can eat from the trees in the garden. It’s only about the tree in the middle of the garden - the tree of the knowledge of good and evil - that God said, ‘Don’t eat from it; don’t even touch it or you’ll die.’”

Serpent: “Really? Did God say that?”

She replied,

Eve: “Yes. He did.”

The serpent busted out laughing. He laughed so hard, his sides hurt, and tears rolled down his eyes. Eve was confused and surprised wondering what she must have said that was so funny.

Eve: “What? What’s so funny? Why are you laughing? Did I say something wrong?”

Barely able to contain himself, the Serpent replied,

Serpent: “I’m sorry. Did God play the ‘Eat it and Die’ card on you too? I'm not surprised.”

He continued,

Serpent: “Of course, you won’t die. God knows that the moment you eat from that tree, your eyes will open. You’ll be just like God, knowing everything, ranging all the way from good to evil.”

Eve: “For real? Are you sure? You are not pulling my legs now are you”

Serpent: “Trust me, I know. I’m not pulling your legs at all. I eat the fruits every single day. See, here I am still kicking.”

Eve was astounded. And then she took another look at the tree. Suddenly, she saw that the tree was actually good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat. And when her husband got home, she gave him some as well; and he ate. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons.

Evil descended upon the world from that moment, an eerie silhouette against the radiance of that beautiful morning. As the serpent slithered its way into the scene, the creeping thing released a mushroom cloud of toxic vapor into the atmosphere, corrupting the lives all around. In the twinkling of an eye, the singing, the dancing, and the rejoicing all came to an abrupt end.

The peace of that day was shattered with a terrifying shriek; a wail of agony that continues to reverberate from generation to generation. The glorious beauty was replaced by a hideous ugliness, and the pure joy that flows from innocent hearts devoid of doubt, supplanted by the sure pain that grows in empty souls corrupted with forbidden knowledge. The curtain of evil fell on a life of perpetual fellowship with God. 

Hitherto man, a native-born citizen of the Shekinah, was clothed with God’s glory. Now fallen from grace, and hidden from His Holy presence, he was nothing more than a naked fugitive alien, adorned in fig leaves, cowering in the dark at the sound of God’s thunderous voice.

How could this have ever happened? They had it going pretty good; a daily schmoozing with the Almighty, ownership of a lush estate with lots and lots of exotic beings and things, and dominion over all of God’s creation. They were crowned with prosperity in its purest form yet; in spirit, soul and body. Their life was lived in fullness; in complete contentment and without a care in the world. What more could a man ask for?

Yet in one single instance they lost it all.

"Why? Why? Why? Why did they do it?"

The reason they did it is the same reason we do everything we do in life. It is same thing that informs our daily choices. And it is to preserve self.

“Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.” Luke 17:33 (cf: Matthew 16:25, Mark 8:35, Luke 9:24).

They wanted to be like God. In their minds they imagined what it’ll be like being equal with God. The mouthwatering taste of the power, authority, and majesty of being god was too tempting a bait to not swallow. The intoxicating and corrosive fumes of knowledge, which is not of or from God, clouded their judgment. They were consumed by the leering and seducing flare-up of lust. Driven by the inordinate desire to have it all on their own without God, they lost it all. In one fell swoop they became captives of Lucifer’s bait-and switch.

The consuming passion to preserve self is encoded our DNA. It is evident in mankind’s entire life endeavor. You find it even in the functioning of the human anatomy and physiology. The body mounts a defense against all foreign invaders, by deploying an army of cells equipped with weapons of mass destruction, to crush the perceived enemy, all in an attempt to maintain the body’s state of equilibrium – its homeostasis – itself. This is a normal physiologic response.

We take extra-ordinary steps to try and save our lives. Some of these things, and in some people, are quite obvious, being done in plain sight. Others are quite subtle, with the appearance of nobility and heroism. Yet, when you pull back the curtain, you’d find that within the choices we make, is the cockatrice of self-service. This beast spits venom upon everything we touch. It poisons relationships, ruins careers, wrecks havocs in churches, brings down nations, and destroys lives.

The sooner we accept the fact that our life is not our own – that it does not belong to us – the sooner we’ll stop “kicking against the pricks”. Fussing in front of the mirror will not add one inch to our height or an extra cubit to our stature. Panic attacks over our financial situation won’t add a dime to our bank account, pulling out our hair will not get our mortgage, car note, and other bills paid on time – it’ll only get us premature baldness – for hair is not yet a currency of exchange anywhere. Worrying over the issues in our lives will get us nothing but a sack in the loony bin. Agonizing over our numerous unmet needs will only succeed in wrecking havoc to our peace of mind.

What we need, what is good for us, and the solution to all of our problems, is to lose ourselves in the reality, ability, and provisions of the Almighty God. It is important to remember that when we can’t, God surely can. We must never forget that when and where our strength fails, God's strength takes over. We ought to trust Him enough to hand everything over to Him and go to sleep. For then, and alone then, is our life preserved. For in His arms alone are we safe.

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