The God of Eden and My Second Salvation
I love walking with the non-religious God of Eden. He is the One who found me and spoke to my heart so many years ago. He found me, rescued me and continues to deliver me, to this very day, ….from my vain and religious imaginations.
This is the story of my second great deliverance; when He rescued me from religion. I understand, now; He just wants to walk together and be with me. This walk is to be up the narrow garden path of loving others and not down the highway to self importance and accomplishing great things. He desires fellowship; not religious observances. A contrite heart; not sacrifices. He is the God of Eden.
When He found me the first time, He delivered me from the power of sin. The second time He found me, I was in a much greater danger. When He found me that second time He rescued me …from me. This is that story.
My First Salvation
All was dark when I saw Him the first time; for my heathen eyes had adjusted to living in the half light of my excuses. Looking upon Him caused my eyes to burn, never having seen such loving and truthful brilliance. I had heard of Him rescuing the prisoners of sin, but somehow I never imagined He would come for me. I thought I knew all about Him because of all the opinions I had heard from others. I have since learned that’s the very reason I could never see Him.
When He appeared that first time, I asked Him what He required of me; He grew strangely quiet and said nothing. The impression suddenly came that I didn’t know what I was asking. It would take many years before I could understand that silence, and the sadness that crossed His face that day. I would need to go through much more life to grasp why my questions had troubled Him so. Yet the reasons were simple enough.
Even while being delivered from the grossest of my sins, I didn't trust Him and still thought I could do something good. The source of my confidence remained somewhat unchanged; it was still in me. For the poisonous fruit of that other tree in the center of the Garden was still coursing through my veins.
That first time our eyes met He simply said; “follow Me”… and so I did.
As I began to follow, I continued to ask where we were going and what we would be doing; … each time I felt that same corrective silence. Somehow I knew the answer to all my questions would be found only in just remaining near Him. It was in that blessed silence I heard Him first speak so deeply to my heart saying …I am where We are going and I am what We are doing.
We… I remember… He said We; …. I have learned to love that word.
Over the years walking together I grew to love Him. The more we walked together the more I knew His love had produced that response in me. While at His side, I grew to fear nothing but our fellowship being interrupted. There was nothing in heaven or earth better to do than to listen to the sound of His footsteps and follow Him. Even when I couldn’t see Him I could hear those footsteps. I felt I had grown wings and could fly.
I loved following Him and became thrilled at not knowing where we were going or even what we would do when we arrived. My terrible companions of loneliness, boredom, passivity and indifference that had followed me all of my life were gone. Life had become a wonderful and exciting adventure.
It was enough just to be with Him. The more we walked, the more I knew His thoughts and feelings. They were at the same time terrifying and wonderful; for they were always absolutely true. And I grew to hunger and thirst for all of them.
To feel His great heart was to understand what the world had lost so long ago in that lovely garden; and the reason all men act the way they do now, … without it.
I also understood, just a little, why at present, we are so unprepared for the complete presence of His pure love in our own hearts. Why we must undergo constant baptisms of fire to keep that terrifying and wonderful burning love from destroying us. The purging power of His jealously can sometimes become terrifying and can be very hard to understand. I was in Him and His love was in me, yet even so; …it burned.
My Second Salvation
As we walked along together enjoying this awesome unbroken fellowship, others would come and begin to follow. At first they would imitate my footsteps as I tried to imitate His. For they could not see Him but saw my happiness and greatly desired to have it. This only lasted for a short time; because very soon, they began to hear His footsteps and see Him for themselves.
The others and I began to walk in perfect harmony with each other. We were free from the bondage of that horrid self awareness that came from that other tree. We were aware only of the sound of His footsteps and each other. Our shared Life had become abundant.
They too felt the wonder of His presence. Because we walked with Him we knew each other better than we knew our own fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers or even our own selves. Somehow, the more we grew to love and follow Him, the more we loved each other and began to see what each other could become. Love gave us insight into one another.
Things continued in this lovely way for many years. Then it happened.
One day we became distracted with the way some of us were walking and decided they needed correction. The others and I began discussing how we might improve their walk. Our desire was earnest, our expectations of helping them were great.
Yet the more we considered and discussed what we should do, the slower we walked. We couldn’t see that we were falling out of step ourselves from the innocence of listening for His steps and the discipline of simple trust. Soon we were no longer listening for His footsteps or following Him at all, but making short stops to plan how to better follow and serve Him. It became harder and harder to hear His footsteps and catch up.
Once again, as in the terrible days after The fall ….Religion was born.
Not simple following with fellowship, nor the spontaneous adoration and praise that arose as we walked together, but strange ideas of sacrifice and what we imagined He might want from us. We began tripping over each other and discussing whose fault it might be.
Some of us remembered where we had been and tried to figure out where we were going next. Others wrote a detailed book about our journey hoping to help stragglers avoid what we had deemed as our mistakes. Some ran ahead, never to be seen of again. Some completely stopped and built great inspirational monuments to the path we were on.
It was then we began to notice all our differences. The specter of self awareness appeared once again and began to manifest his evil fruit as we began comparing ourselves with ourselves. It wasn’t long before we were trying to see which one knew the most. We started discussion groups about the need of taking different paths suitable to our differing perspectives.
That’s when we noticed; … He was gone.
Soon a stranger appeared that looked a lot like Him who we once followed. He began telling us we should follow him; and that we had better keep up. He spoke of great things to be done and of finding out once and for all whose interpretation of the book was correct.
Suddenly we could no longer see each other. The darkness that had called itself light became great. So in terror we ran. But the faster we ran, the darker it grew, till we had completely exhausted the last of our joy. Soon we collapsed being completely blind and wretched. Then in that great lonely darkness we wept bitterly. We had not only lost our joy, but our very souls …. again.
As we wept in the stillness of that sadness ….we heard His footsteps. He had returned!
The first thing he did was to drive the stranger away by the light coming from his face. That light hurt our eyes as well. Then He turned and once again asked us to follow Him. No one asked where we were going. No one asked what we would be doing. We just wanted to hear His footsteps and follow Him.
As our eyes slowly adjusted to the light we put away our sacrifices, worship services, study guides, tithes, ministries, church meetings and pride that had unknowingly become such heavy burdens. Then He removed the chains from around our necks that we had forged from our religious pride and began once again slowly, to follow Him. In returning and rest we followed Him. The sound of those footsteps became our strength and confidence … once again.
Soon we could see each other, but only as we looked steadfastly at Him. From that day till this, should anyone start to slow down and discuss how we might walk this walk better, everyone stops and gets very still. Then through the silence and tears, laughter and light break out… and we all say together….Listen for the footsteps!