To my Grandchildren, Chapter II





Do you remember from the first chapter why God created the first man and woman?You are right, God created them to enjoy being with him, to look at Him the way He looked at them. We talked about how everything was perfect, God, man and woman joined together as best friends. What happened that changed the perfect garden that God, the man, and the woman lived in? You are right, the man and the woman decided to look into a creature’s eyes, a serpent who hated God. After that time, when they stopped looking into God’s eyes bad stuff started to happen. They had ugly thoughts about each other, they spoke ugly words to each other. God still loved them very much, he never stopped gazing at them. God knew ugly things would happen because they stopped gazing into His eyes. The first terrible thing, probably the most terrible thing, happened after the man and the woman had their first two sons. What do you imagine is the most terrible thing that can happen? Let me tell you about it.

The man and the woman started a family, their oldest son was named Cain and he liked to play with the dirt; planting seeds and growing vegetables. He was really good at it, God had created him to enjoy taking care of the earth’s dirt. The second son was named Abel and the Sacred Scripture tells us he was a keeper of sheep, do you know what that means? He enjoyed taking care of sheep, we call that shepherding so we could say Abel was a shepherd. God had created Abel to enjoy taking care of animals. From as long as they could remember the sons regularly prepared an offering with their parents to give to God. What do you suppose their offerings looked like? We can’t be sure but we can guess. Sometimes they would give God an offering of the grains grown from the ground and sometimes they would offer God a young animal they had shepherded. It was their way of saying thank you to God for creating them and loving them in spite of their decision to look into the serpent’s eyes and think he loved them. We still do what they did today, our offerings of thanksgiving look a little different than they did then, but it still means the same thing.

As the boys grew older, God began asking Cain and Abel to bring offerings of their own to Him to show Him how much they loved Him. The Sacred Scripture tells us Cain would bring the fruit of the ground he enjoying taking care of and Abel brought the first born of the flocks of animals that he enjoyed taking care of. Somewhere along the way Cain’s attitude changed about giving a offering of thanks to the LORD. We are given clues in Sacred Scripture about how that might have happened. I know you like to play the game Clue when we are together so I know you like clues, too. Professor Mustard will find a clue that could help him solve a mystery. It works the same way in Sacred Scripture, but Sacred Scripture is not a game, it is the Truth. It seems to me that if God wants to give me hints when I read His Sacred Scripture, I better pay attention because it is going to lead me to something important I need to know.

It happened one day that when Cain and Abel offered their gifts to God as a thank you, the LORD had regard for Abel’s offering. Do you know what that means? It’s a word you heard in the first chapter. The other word you can use for regard is gaze! Remember how much God loves to gaze at us, he also likes to gaze at what we enjoy giving to Him. Abel’s offering of a new lamb must have been beautiful to look at. You know what? The Sacred Scripture tells us that God did not regard Cain’s gift to Him. I wonder why? Do you think there was something wrong with the fruit of the ground that Cain brought to give God? Remember about clues. Here’s a clue about why God didn’t gaze on Cain’s offering very long. “Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.” Hmm? That’s a curious clue. Cain probably was jealous of Abel and when he realized God gazed at Abel’s offering longer than He did at Cain’s, he got angry. Not only did Cain feel angry, his face; his countenance fell. That means his look changed. I bet you know what this means because I know sometimes you get jealous of your sister or brother, you may even think that your parents love them more than they love you. I remember feeling that way!

You know what I think? God knows everything, even our thoughts, even when we don’t say our thoughts. God looks into our eyes and knows what we are feeling because He created feelings, too! So this clue about Cain’s feelings tells us something God knows that we don’t know because we aren’t God. Here’s what God did when Cain’s anger and jealousy showed on his face. He asked him some questions. The questions gives us another clue about how the story may end. God asked Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is couching at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it.” God looked into Cain’s eyes and saw what He already knew. We use a big word to describe what only God can know, it is omniscience. Omni means “all” and science means, “knowledge”–God alone has all knowledge, or we can put it this way, God is all-knowing. He knows EVERYTHING about EVERYONE at ANYTIME, ANYWHERE. That makes my brain sweat to even think about, doesn’t it do that to you? God is so spectacular that He keeps track of everything and everyone! Would you like to be omniscient? What are some of the things you would like to know?

There are so many words that describe God, but the most important is LOVE. When God saw that Cain was angry and jealous and that Cain assumed that God had rejected his offering, he still loved Cain. Cain was still learning how to love God. We do that sometimes, don’t we? Remember that God is omniscient so He knows what we are thinking and why we are thinking it. And He still loves us! This is a good thing to remember when we read the rest of the story about Cain because he makes the worse choice ever. Can you guess what the worse choice is?

A little while later, Cain tricked his brother. He told Able, “let’s go out to the field.” Cain didn’t want to go to the field just to play soccer. What happens next is the terrible choice–Cain killed Abel! He killed him because he was jealous of him so he thought the solution to his feelings of jealousy was to get rid of Abel. Does that make sense to you? God had a curious way of handling Cain’s terrible choice, instead of yelling and screaming at him, he asked Cain two questions! “Where is you brother?” and “What have you done?” Remember that God knows everything? So, why do you think he asked Cain that question? This question gives us another clue, and it’s about the way God loves us.

God loves you more than your parents and He loves you more than I love you. That’s almost impossible to believe that anyone could love you more than your parents of me. God wants you to choose to love Him just like he wanted Cain to love Him and so would remind Cain about the most important choices he would need to make in order to have the happy life God had planned for Him. And even though Cain ignored God and got mad at God, God still loved Him. Even though Cain did the worst thing ever, God still wanted to Cain to gaze into His eyes and tell him the truth about what he had done.

Do you remember a time you did something wrong and Dad has you a question about what you had been doing? Then you figured out he already knew what you were doing, but he wanted you to admit you did it. The word we use for that is “confess”. The Sacred Scripture is full of stories like Cain’s where God shows His love in the same way as He did with Cain and as Dad shows his love to you. God knows that if you will confess what you did was wrong, then He can help you fix your gaze back on Him. If you don’t confess what you’ve done wrong, then it will be very hard for you to gaze into His eyes. Another thing it will do is it will make it easier for you to keep ignoring God and to keep choosing to do things will eventually cause you to forget how much God loves you.

This leads us to conversation God had with a man named Abram. Abram was scared of a lot of things, but God taught him how to trust Him and quit being scared. We’ll read about that in the next chapter.

To my Grandchildren, Chapter I: The Apple of His Eye

“Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings” -Psalm 17:8

My dear grandchildren,

I love you, you know that! But Someone loved you before me or your mom and dad loved you. I want you to know this more than anything else I want you to know. That Someone has the name, God. Never forget that name! Never forget that God loved you before you were even born, He loved you before the world was even created! Isn’t that amazing?

There’s only three letters to describe the God who created the oceans, mountains, skies, and the ground we play together on, He made it all! You know how much I like elephants and birds? I know how much you like your dogs and cats. Well, God was so fascinated by the idea of elephants, birds, dogs, cats, even bugs that when He imagined them, they became what you and I can see. He imagined flowers and trees, mountains and lakes; everything we see when we are taking walks. Do you remember when I told you that Great Grandma’s favorite flower was Black-Eyed Susans? God created them for her to enjoy looking at. And there are the fig trees that I climbed when I was a child like you. God created those trees knowing that someday I would spend a lot of time in those trees by our home in South Africa. He declared everything and every place he made: “good.”

God loved himself so much that He imagined humans that would love Him, too. He simply spoke a word, and a man and a woman were created just like Him. They looked like He would look if He put flesh on. When He looked at them he declared them “very good.” And He created them to look at Him and know that He is very good.

He loved looking at them so much that they were the apple of His eye; now that’s a funny way to put it? Do you know where that phrase came from? The Sacred Scripture tells us God will keep us as the “apple of his eye” and protect us in the shadow of His wings. It literally means, I will keep you as the “little man of my eye.” What do you suppose God is trying to tell you about yourself when He refers to you as the apple of his eye? “Keep me as the apple of your eye” means he has the tiny reflection of you in the iris of His eyes. I wonder what color of eyes God has? Maybe they’re brown, green and blue all at once. No matter how dark a room is He sees into your eyes and you can see into his eyes! Doesn’t that amaze you? God is telling you that his eyes are fixed on you, that your “little person” is reflected in His eyes! It’s hard to imagine that God, who I cannot see, always sees me. Not only that, he is beholding me, that means he stares at us. Why? He created us very good! Don’t you like to spend time staring at things that you’ve created?

I’m getting ahead of myself in what I want to tell you about about being the apple of God’s eye.

First things, first. Here is where we must begin. When God created the first man and woman He enjoyed being with them, He never took his eyes off of them because they were so beautiful to Him. And they never took their eyes off of Him because they loved what they saw reflected in His eyes. Everything was perfect. But one day something happened, the man and woman took their eyes off of God, they stopped staring at Him because something else caught their eye. God saw them look away and He longed for them to keep their eyes on Him so that He could see Himself reflected in their eyes. He knew what was happening, He knew it before it even happened because he knows everything. He had given them the freedom to look at anything they wanted to if they chose to. But He never took His eyes off of them. He waited, and He waited, and He waited for them to look back into His eyes.

It’s such a strange thing to realize, but the man and woman had decided to stare into an ugly Serpent’s eye, and what they saw there seemed more beautiful than what they saw when they looked into God’s eyes. They really wanted what they saw. God had not wanted them to stare into the Serpent’s eye? He loved them so much that he wanted them to look into His eyes forever because He knew that the they would see themselves just like He created them–perfect, beautiful, and very good. He knew that if the man and woman kept gazing at Him, they would be able to see Him looking back at them with His beautiful eyes filled with perfect love for them. He also knew that if the man and woman gazed at Him, life would be perfect.

What do you perfect looked like? Here are some hints, you like to receive it, you like to give it, you like to unwrap it, and you are always surprised by it. You are right; your eye would see all gift, like Christmas every moment! But you couldn’t grab them out of his arms. These gifts would be so valuable that only God could hold them out to you for you to receive them. These gifts would hang on a tree that only God could grow and they would be so delicious to eat! They would feel as beautiful as they looked and they would taste like nothing you can imagine. The gifts were fruit and they had names: faith, hope, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness. He knew that if the man and woman kept looking into His eyes, they would be happy.

After a while, the Sacred Scripture tells us, that the man and the woman heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, but instead of joining Him for a walk, the man and women hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Why would they hide from their Creator? What had changed when they stopped looking into God’s eyes and started staring at the serpent’s eye?

Everything changed when the man and woman took their eyes off of God, they began to forget God. Something else had changed, the man and the woman started to forget what they looked like. When they bent over the stream in the beautiful garden to get a drink, they didn’t recognize who was looking back at them. When they looked into the eyes of each other, they couldn’t remember who they were. Isn’t that a strange turn of events? When they heard the voice of God, they had forgotten what His voice sounded like, too. They hid from Him because they had forgotten that they were in God’s garden! “Where are you?”, God called. They came out of their hiding place and they felt a feeling they never had felt before–fear. Do you know that when you feel afraid that God didn’t give you fear? When the man and woman stared into the serpent’s he gave them fear. I know that God would never give a gift like fear because it’s not a gift at all.

When the man and woman looked into God’s eyes, right there in the apple of His eye they could almost see what they used to look like before they took their gaze off of Him, before they began forgetting Him. God knows everything and he sees everything, so why did He ask, “Where are you?” He could see them plain as day. You know why I suppose He asked them where they were at? They were lost and they were afraid and they didn’t trust God anymore. He knew that when they first took their eyes off of Him they would always doubt His love for them because they couldn’t see the gift in His eyes anymore. But God didn’t give up or walk away or get so angry with them that He would never look at them again. He had a plan, and in spite of what the man and woman had chosen to do, He would keep His eyes on them because He never stopped loving them.

God’s plan was to bring everyone after that first man and woman back to the garden where everything was perfect. He knew it would take awhile, but that didn’t matter, what mattered is that He would keep looking into the eyes of the people He created and wait for them to begin looking back into His eyes. The plan included asking questions, even though he knows everything. The plan included revealing the rest of His 3-lettered name they first learned.

He has never, ever, stopped gazing into everyone’s eyes. That’s a lot of people! Do you know why He keeps looking into our eyes, because He can see the beauty that He created in us. He loves us so much that He will keep asking questions like “Where are you?” because He is always waiting for us to stop hiding from Him, He’s waiting for us to choose to only look into His eyes.

There are others like the first man and woman that the Sacred Scripture tells us about who wouldn’t look into God’s eyes for the same reason–what the serpent gave to the first man and woman he gave to all the people who were born after them: too much fear, too much anger, too much pride! Then came others who didn’t even know that God was looking into their eyes, they had too much fear, anger and pride, too. Let me tell you about the next question God asked another man. His name was Cain. He was the son of the first man and woman.

*See post, To My Grandchildren: “What Have You Done?”