… hold me, Lord! Keep me close to Your heart!
Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD.” And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? (will there not be a lifting up [of your face]?) And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”
Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” And the LORD said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.” Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment (my sin) is greater than I can bear. Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” Then the LORD said to him, “Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the LORD put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him. Genesis 4:1-15 (ESV)
Papi, Your love amazes me. You are the pursuer, the lover of my soul, just as You are for all of humanity. You desire truth and righteousness in me – and You are always ready to provide what You desire to be in me! I love how You use questions to bring Your wayward, sinful children to the truth. With Your great love, You pursue us into our hiding places. Questions… not demands, or aggressiveness, or condemnation, or badgering, or beatings… questions are how You call us out. And You wait for us to answer, then You wait for us to go through our line of denials and diversions and blaming. You remind us that You know what we’ve done, know far more completely than we know, and still You love us and demonstrate that love to us through Your provision for our needs and Your delight in us as You take the initiative to establish a redeemed relationship with each of us. Even in our whining and complaining, You demonstrate Your love and Your protection and Your care.
I need You. I need to hear Your voice. I need to face Your questions. I need the gentle touch of Your pursuing love, to feel to the depths of my being Your call to honesty and ownership of my own sin and the hiding and blaming that it stirs up. I need to “do well” so that my face will be lifted – to gaze back into Your eyes and see the love and care You offer and thus to receive YOU and to receive back from You, the image of Yourself You planted in me!
I bring You my brokenness – both known and not yet known – and I receive Your redeeming grace into every detail of the story of my life. I thank You for bringing me to this place of being able to lift my face to You and see my life through Your eyes, to weep over the injustices and the harm and the abuse – the results of the sins of others and my sin on top of that. I choose to stick with the process. Even though the prospect of it terrifies me, I also have every confidence that You will complete the good work You have begun in me. I don’t know what that will look like, I don’t know how much of that good work will be revealed here on earth, and don’t know how much of the pain will be healed and life restored and poured out in abundance on others, but I do know that Your Word is truth and I walk in faith, trusting You alone.
Reflect on the nature of humanity in general and what seems dominant in your life right now. What forgiveness or healing do you need in your life? In what ways are you like Cain? Notice how God treats Cain, the life-taker.
I see the nature of humanity as complex – both glorious and hideous, fully redeemed and blackened with sin, capable of tender love and hateful apathy, surrender and resistance, coming with repentance for and hiding with blame against.
A dominant theme in my life right now is reluctant surrender to seeing the harm done in my life and the resulting harm done by me. I am beginning to be able to name the harm without casting blame and condemnation, but rather to allow the pain and the hurt to call me to intercession and mercy.
I need the courage to face the truth and to let the truth change the negative patterns in my life. I need to truly face the pain so that I can truly forgive – completely – so that I can walk in the freedom to love abundantly and give generously and trust knowingly – that comes from genuine, complete forgiveness.
I want to be accepted on my terms. I want my efforts to be recognized and rewarded. I want vengeance and retribution. I want others to conform to my image of them. I want them to make me feel good about myself. I want God to accept my offer, whether it is worthy or not, but I don’t want Him to bring me face to face with my sin and my rebellion. I want release from the consequences of that sin and rebellion. In other words, I want my own way.
AND, I am thankful for His grace and His mercy and healing love. I choose to receive Him and to receive His forgiveness and His provision in the consequences of the evil in my life. Because of His forgiveness, I can choose His way instead of my way.
What blessed freedom that is!