On the rare occasion that Joan watches thrillers, she holds up her hand over her eyes and peeks through her fingers when the action gets tense.
Her husband, John, sat beside her on the sofa one evening ready to enjoy one of his action-filled dramas. Joan screamed, reacting to the scene on the screen that was pitching with overturned cars, gunfire, blood, and flames.
“Honey, it’s not scary!” John pulled her closer to him. “Don’t you think you’re being silly? This is only the preview!”
It is no secret John likes action films. It is also common knowledge among their friends that Joan likes chic flicks and comedies. Fortunately, the couple’s preferences in media do not present a difference of opinion in their marriage any more serious than one liking cream in his coffee and the other liking it black.
Joan sighed, got up, and apologized, “Sorry, John, I’m a ‘happily ever after’ kind of gal. I leave you to your movie.”
Sometimes late at night when Joan has the remote control to herself to watch movies of her choice, she finds herself hitting the fast-forward button. Zip! The painful parts of the story disappear and the film speeds to the end where everyone is smiling and kissing.
What if screenwriters and novelists didn’t include conflict? Joan wished it were so. Writers will tell you it’s an essential part of fiction story-building. If there weren’t a problem, the reader or viewer would be too bored to turn the page. In real life, problems help us to grow. Second chances also give us a new lease on life. But how often do we want to fast forward to the happy ending? Can a story move to a happy ending without conflicts and challenges?
What about Adam and Eve? When God created the idyllic Garden of Eden, he provided an underground watering system, great, loose soil full of nutrients, and lush fruit-bearing plants and trees. The couple didn’t have to mix up Miracle Grow, amend the soil, compost, dig out rocks, foxtails, goat heads, or worry about drought. A gardener’s dream! Lots of yield and not much work! It was all the fruits, nuts, veggies, and variety that a person could need. At that time of grace and favor, no animals were carnivores, nor did the first couple kill any for meat within the garden.
God planned on the couple to keep on living and to raise a family. He had given them a bigger brain than all the critters, plus the opportunity to reason and choose. They and we are created in His image, after all.
If I were watching a movie of Adam of Eve messing up, like Joan, I would be tempted to fast forward through all the pain and hardship they brought on themselves and look for a happy ending. In their lifetimes, Adam and Eve might not have found it.
But soon after the conflict, God stepped in with a solution. First, he demoted the serpent, pledging that the clever creature would crawl on its belly the rest of its existence.
But God really did plan a happy ending for man and womankind, and He introduced it in the Garden of Eden.
While talking with the serpent, God promised, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head and you will strike his heel.” Genesis 3:15 [NIV].
It was the promise of a second chance for all generations. God told the serpent Satan that would be defeated. Satan would try, but Christ would crush the creature’s head, resulting in a fatal injury. The final blow came when Jesus defeated Satan and death by being raised from the dead.
“God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8. [NIV]. The ultimate gift of love.
At the birth of Christ, an angel cried with happiness, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11 [NIV]. Three decades later, Christ, the Savior recognized the time had come to finish God’s promise.
Conflict: bad choices. Resolution: another chance. It all came with Christ. Though the creation and Noah’s ark weren’t set in a time frame we understand, scholars established a reference point after that to the time Christ came. It was more than several thousand years. But the Savior was worth the wait.
If we fast forward from the conflict in the Garden of Eden to now, we’re missing out on the good stuff. So put down the remote take it slow. Savor the gift from the Lord of All. A gift for all to open: a second chance of a new beginning and a clean slate through forgiveness.
[Jo Russell is a Christian teacher, speaker, author of many articles, contributor to several anthologies, and Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women, available from her website, www.button-to-god.com. For more chuckles and to hear a speech, enjoy excerpts of her book and tips, check her entire website options and weekly blog.]