Eve opened her eyes at the sound of someone approaching. She raised her head to see an old man wobbling towards her, cane in hand. She smiled as Adam came to her and held out his hand to lift her from the ground. This was the same hand she had held for generations. This was the only other person on earth that understood that other life. They had walked together as they broke every new barrier there was to break. Everything they had done in their entire life had been a new discovery. Even now, they were still testing new limits. Just how long did they have? How long could a man last? They were familiar with death. They had seen it time and time again, but it was always from disease or childbirth or an accident. No one had ever just hit their age limit and died. No one knew if there even was a limit. If nothing interfered, would they continue to live until the end of the world? For surely there was an end. Surely the Father would provide a path back to Eden. She felt it as surely as she felt anything. He would not abandon them. He would remain faithful where they had been faithless – although they deserved far, far less.
Leaning into her lifelong partner’s side she walked back to her tent. How she adored this man. They had been through so much, and yet here he still was, leading the way. She smiled as she remembered their first days together…
He was so young then. Ageless, really, for the passing of time had no meaning in that place, not like in did here. Strength poured from him in those days. He was so confident and purposeful, having been created as the crowning glory of creation, to rule over everything else. Eve had loved him from the first. It was true that she had known no different, but what did that matter? One of her granddaughters had asked her once if she felt cheated because she had never had any choice but Adam. Cheated? Because she “had” to spend her life with the one the Father had intended just for her? Never! And why did one need options when one had what was perfectly right? She and Adam had literally been made for each other, and their love was meant to be a reflection of the Father’s love for them. Why look anywhere else?
Not that it had always been easy. Nine centuries together had brought its share of hardship. Birth, death, hunger, thirst, greed, selfishness, and most of all, fear, had invaded their lives and wreaked havoc over the years. The fear had been the worst. The introduction of fear into their lives had been the worst part of the Fall. She remembered the first time she had sensed fear – that knawing sensation in her stomach, unlike anything she had ever known. It was that fear and sham e that nearly drove her and Adam apart in those first few weeks out of Eden.
That first day on the outside was the worst she had ever experienced. It was like having a limb ripped off her body. One moment she had been in the very midst of perfection. The next moment she was in the middle of seeming nothingness. There were plants, but they were mere shadows of the lush vegetation she had known. Animals roamed, but they didn’t seem to have the same vibrant life she was used to seeing – and instead of trusting her and Adam, they ran from them or bared their teeth and attached in defense. The ground was hard, not workable like the ground of Eden. Within her new animal skins, Eve had shivered and shivered – for the first time she felt the sensation she came to know as “cold.” As time wore on, she would experience both extreme cold and extreme heat. Nothing at all like the perfect climate of Eden.
Her new animal skins. Eve shuddered at the memory of the first blood she’d ever seen shed. They needed something to shield themselves from the new extremes of this horrible place; as well, there was also a need, as God explained, for blood to be shed as a result of their rebellion. That was the way it worked – sin required the shedding of blood. Eve would never forget the stench of that first dead animal…and the horror of realizing that creation could perish. Eden had not known death.
For the first few days, Adam and Eve had been too stunned, too numb in their grief to really communicate with each other. They were also too desperate for survival. Instead of the plants readily giving full and mouth-watering provision, the food was dull-tasting and hard. Eve refused to eat it at first until finally she got so hungry it wasn’t possible to go without any longer. Although the eventually learned how to prepare food so it was more enjoyable, Eve never really enjoyed eating again. Nothing could wipe away the memory of what food was supposed to taste like.
Even though they had heard the curse, they were not prepared for how difficult it would be to survive. They discovered that not everything was edible. Some things were rotted – like everything else in this accursed place, the plants died – and some caused great sickness. The first time they became sick was an awful experience. The discovery that their physical bodies could suffer so much was shocking. They had to learn how to work the hard soil, how to coax food out of the vegetation of the earth. They learned how to kill animals for meat and clothing. They learned how to erect dwellings to protect against the heat and the cold…and the wind. Oh, the wind! It was nothing like the gentle, cleansing breeze of Eden. No, this was a harsh, destructive wind that blew away their provisions and knocked over their homes.
Yes, life had suddenly become radically, horrifically different. And their relationship had suffered for it. After the initial shock of their new surroundings came the anger. They had never experienced anger before, and the sheer force of the emotion nearly ripped them apart. Adam was the first to lay blame, accusing Eve of listening to that damn serpent. Why did she have to be like God anyway? They knew better. She knew better. How could she have exposed them to such ugliness? Why oh why had she sought more than she had been given? Eve retorted that he had been standing right there – why hadn’t he spoken up? Why hadn’t he tried to stop her? One word from him would have stopped her hand. But no, he had just stood there, silently giving his permission…and then he had sealed his approval by partaking himself. How dare he accuse her!
And so on and on it went. Anger turned into another new experience – bitterness. They went weeks without speaking to one another. Eve would cry herself to sleep every night – lamenting the life she had traded for nothing, yes, but also pouring out the brokenness of her heart over the loss of the man she was created for. Those were lonely, endless nights. It was unbearable, facing the darkness of this new world alone. Even cried out to the God she knew must be there, somewhere –surely He hadn’t left them altogether? She couldn’t bear the thought of having lost both her lovers forever.
Bitterness gave way to apathy, apathy to complacency, until finally, one day, Adam approached Eve. He asked her to put down her work and sit down with him. Then, in short, stilted words, he began to explain all that he had been feeling – the anger, the bitterness, and the loneliness. He, too, had spent too many nights in anguish. But God had reached out to him and shaken him out of his bitterness to see that she had been hurting just as much and that there was hope – if he, Adam, would lay down his pride and anger and take the lead. Then in a choked up voice that soon turned into a flood of words and tears, he said he was sorry. He was sorry for not being there, sorry for not speaking up, sorry for not defending her from the evil that had wooed her away. His confession brought a flood of tears and apologies from her as well, and suddenly they were in each other’s arms. For the first time since The Fall, they cried together over their fate, and as they forgave one another, they had a strange sensation come over them. They knew, at that moment, that the Father was still with them. He spoke to them – not in the same way He had before, but still He spoke – and they knew that though they had given up the privilege of seeing and touching God, He had not given up on them, and He never would. The healing had begun. Together, they built an altar and made a sacrifice to God, and then hand in hand with each other, armed with the knowledge of God’s love and forgiveness in their hearts, they began their new lives in a new world. No, they would not get to go back to Eden, at least not in this life. But God had not created them and brought them this far to abandon them now.
As Eve walked on the arm of the one who had walked her through so much, she thought of their lives over the years. Together, they’d forged a new life in a desolate world. They had learned to tame animals that had once come to their beck and call, figured out what plants could be eaten and which could not, learned about clothing, shelter, all they needed for survival – while all the time being led and taught by their Father. They longed for that personal place they had once had at His side, but something told them that this separation would not be forever. They had often lain awake at night, discussing this sense they had, that they were living towards something, that there was this hope in the depths of their corrupted hearts, that this dark place was not their final destination. They had learned a little about God’s character in the near-millennia of their lives – although the more they learned, the more they realized they could never hope to fully, as the serpent had tempted them, “be like God.” The Father was far beyond their limited understanding. Yet over time they had come to recognize His grace in their lives. He could have let them wander the earth after their sin. He could have killed them outright. It was no more than they deserved. Instead, in His grace, He had killed for them, made them clothes, and shown them how to survive. In time, they even began to see the grace in their banishment, for He had kept them from eating of the Tree of Life and live forever in their sin. Such a God of grace would surely not forsake them forever. They knew, somewhere deep down, that this was not all there was. There was more for them and their descendants. God has created them for His own pleasure, and even now, they knew He was making plans to set things right again. They may not see it in their lifetime, but they would see it in eternity. God would make a way back to Eden.