“If you come to a fork in the road… take it.” – Yogi Berra, Baseball Hall of Fame player and simple philosopher whose quotes are in a category all by themselves.
To be sure, simple choices seem to be a conundrum in life. We make such choices everyday. Usually our choices define who we are. Other times, in the case of wrong choices, it is best to admit them, amend or correct them as much as possible, and then proceed ahead. You can learn from choices that turn out to be wrong or shortsighted.
But you cannot dwell on mistakes much. Regret is called the cancer of life. I believe that this is true.
If you make good or sound choices, then as a corollary your character is strengthened.
I sure like what the frontiersman Davy Crockett remarked. He said: “Be sure you are in the right, then go ahead.” It appears that our heroes from early Americana had few, if any, doubts. The American nation was formed from such folks who did not have much qualms about making decisions— for that matter, right decisions. If you read about such men and women in early American history, they had few doubts and seldom second-guessed themselves. They sought decisions based on what was right, formed deep convictions about them, and then carried them out with great resolve.
In the Bible in its opening chapters, we read about some choices made there. Apparently, the end result of these choices were not well thought out.
There were two choices maybe three, given to Adam.
One, was to not eat the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. It was forbidden to do so by the Lord God. It is implied by the text that this Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was located near the perimeters of the Garden of Eden. A corresponding tree, called the Tree of Life, was centrally located in the very middle of Eden. This Tree of Life, and the many other trees that bore fruit, Adam was free to eat thereof.
These two main trees were situated as to be in controversy with each other. One was located in the very middle of Eden, and permitted for Adam to eat. The other was located near the perimeter of the Garden, and not permitted to eat. There was no penalty for imbibing the Tree of Life. However, there was a serious penalty for indulging in eating the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and that was death.
Adam apparently didn’t think much about these two choices. He was a very innocent man and had little guile or curiosity as to why one Tree was permitted to eat and the other, not. Adam was also sort of busy. He had dominion over the animals and the Bible says that he gave names to all the animals and respective creation that he came in contact with. He was told to maintain the Garden and “dress and keep” it. This implies that Adam would prune the trees and foliage, similar to a vine dresser. In addition, the Bible implies that Adam would seek or commune with God in the “cool of the day,” or evening. This might have taken an hour or two of Adam;s day. He also had a wife named Eve.
Hence, Adam was caught up in the wonder creation of the animal kingdom, caring for the Garden, communing with a very Angel of God’s face, and pretty much infatuated with his mate, Eve.
The Bible account in Genesis outlines two apparent choices:
One, the Tree of Life. The other, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Many Christian folk believe that Adam was perfect and lived in a paradise.
However, the Bible never states this.
It only says that on the Sixth Day, which was the creation of man, that “God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31).
Very good is not perfect.
You see, Adam was created out of the dust or clay. His name means “red earth.” God formed him, and then breathed the “breath of life” into him. Adam became a living being (Gen. 2:7).
By the virtue that Adam was created out of earthly elements, he had other similarities with the earth. In explaining the penalty of death, the Lord God had implied to Adam, that life would cease, that he would no longer be a living being, and be reduced once again to earth. In other words, the exact opposite would occur that happened to Adam when he was created. The breath of life would even return unto the Lord God. Hence, Adam was created a mortal.
This is not a perfect condition. It was only very good. But “very good” did not last long.
The other drawback to Adam was that he had only a human nature. He did not have a spiritual nature. To have a spiritual nature, and life eternal, he would have to make a choice.
He would have to eat of the Tree of Life.
This implies that Adam would no longer be mortal. He would no longer need the “breath of life.” His body which was formed after the Image of God, would be changed to the Likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-27).
Yep, there is a lot of difference between being made to look as God, and being made to act like God. Adam looked like God, but he was not “like” God. He had to eat of the Tree of Life first.
We have the same dichotomy.
We look like God. We don’t act like God. We are made in His Image… but not after His Likeness.
The story proceeds that eventually, Adam ate of the wrong fruit. He ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam was then banished from the Garden and the possibility of eating the Tree of Life. Adam could not easily commune with God as sin was in the way. This knowledge of good and evil destroyed the innocence of Adam. It cost him his life. Immediately the aging process, or the process of death, began in his body.
I repeat that last sentence again. Adam started the aging process. Before this infraction, Adam was not aging. He had a human body, he breathed in and out, but he was not aging at this point. Why?
The speed of light in the early days of Creation was much, much faster than it is today. When Adam sinned, the speed of light slowed down. This same phenomenon happens on spacecraft. The clocks on spacecraft slows down compared to earth clocks. The astronauts show slower signs of physiological aging. This is consistent with Einstein’s first postulate on Relativity.
But I digress.
The very bad thing about the knowledge of Good and Evil is that Adam had only human nature. Human nature cannot handle this knowledge. This knowledge becomes sin, which is based on selfishness, the paramount trait of human nature.
From then on, man had to be redeemed from this human nature, inherent selfishness, unbridled imaginations from the knowledge of good and evil, inherent lusts and desires which before were innocent but not subject to being corrupted and perverted. A promise from God was given to the “seed of the Woman.” This seed could be redeemed by seeking and communing with God in which a covenant relationship would restore, spiritually, fellowship with God once again. Out of this relationship, man could learn of the Tree of Life, a plan of redemption for humankind.
Yes, Adam had two choices, maybe three.
He chose one. The one that he chose cost him the opportunity of choosing the other one, and affected another choice.
The choices that Adam had was, in review:
~ Eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil
~ Eating of the Tree of Life
~ And, continuing to live in the Garden of Eden.
In choosing the first option, Adam lost the second and third options.
Now, I have taken this account of Adam, the Trees, the Garden, and his choices and outlined it with suitable detail.
However, there was another power given to Adam that the Bible did not specify. It remains to this day.
Adam was a free will creature.
The first thing that God gave Adam, after giving him the breath of life and a body formed out of the earth in the image of God, was this power of free will choice. Adam certainly exercised his free will and made choices. Adam made decisions and chose, out of his own free will, to remain with his wife. To do so however, he had to share with her the fruit of the forbidden Tree. The Bible says that Adam loved his wife. She was not only literally an extension of Adam, but an emotional extension of Adam. He did not like the idea of being alone. Whether it was out of fear, loneliness, pain, love, preferring Eve before the Lord God, or a combination of all these factors… Adam made a free will choice.
Today, we have the same power. We are free will agents. We have the power to make choices. They can be good or bad. Our choices can be influenced by many factors. Sometimes, it looks like no choice at all… or what is called a “Hobson’s choice.”
But a decision has to be made.
And that is a choice.
We have the free will to seek after God. Or, we have the free will to live for ourselves.
Free will. No one talks about a great deal. But it is a gift from God.
We choose to love God or to find fault with God.
More than a few people blame God for the condition of the world: its poverty, sickness, pain, hurt, suffering, and death. These folks don’t spend a lot of time thanking God for what is good about life, but evil. They like to condemn God and make Him look like a monster of sorts.
But God is only allowing free will. He is not forcing anyone to make selfish choices. If some folks are concerned about suffering in the world, then it is incumbent upon them to do something about it and rectify it as much as possible with their efforts.
But as nearly always the case, it is not out of compassion for those suffering that such folks condemn God, but by assessing such blame to God and trying to escape any guilt arising from themselves, they think that they have no obligation to help such sufferers.
Yep, selfish choices. Blaming another, and then contributing to the added suffering by “doing your own thing.”
Whoops, they just made a choice. “Doing your own thing” is selfish, but “doing God’s thing,” well, it is not convenient. Doing God’s Will would require a negation of self. It would require many different choices that these folks do not want to squander their free will choices on. People like to think life is a latent genie in the lamp… and that they will discover it… but that is only a fairy tale.
After all, life is short. Folks want to practice as much free will in making their lives suitable for their own comfort. It matters little about the comfort of those around us. We see this particular quality in those who have much of the world’s goods and live in a state of relative luxury.
However, life does not continue. We are under the penalty of death. Especially, when making wrong choices. There is a day of reckoning for such free will that benefits no one but themselves.
Yes. Free Will is a gift. We can use it to become more like the Likeness of God, a fixed result that will continue beyond our moral coil… or we can remain just an image, an image of our Creator, which appears momentarily, and then is lost in time.
Choices. Image or Likeness. Selfishness or denial of self. Right or Wrong. Good or Evil. Righteousness or Wickedness. Life or Death. Living for God or living for self.
In reality, our choices are pretty simple.
What will yours be?
Thanks for reading.
Copyrighted. Joseph Spickard, 2014. All rights reserved. Any reproduction of this intellectual property without prior permission from the author is prohibited.