Tuesday, October 23, 2012

God's Love for Cain, Cain's Love for Self

I've never really paid much attention to the story of Cain & Abel in the Bible.  However, last week God used this story in my life in such a beautiful way.   In BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) last week - we studied Cain & Abel in Genesis 4 and this statement was made during a lecture part of our class.

"Eve might have been thinking that Cain was the one that would put everything back in it's right order.  The promised seed God spoke about when he cursed Adam & Eve" (Genesis 3:15 I will put enmity between you & the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel)

This statement stuck out at me and I couldn't move on past that sentence as I reviewed my notes later.

Cain, like each of us, was solely responsible for his attitude, sin & the choice to allow God's love to help him "master it" (4:7).... or not.   However, I understand for the first time, the part that Eve might have played in his situation.

Cain was the first baby EVER on earth!!  Can you imagine how perfect & beautiful & cute & wonderful he seemed to Eve?  He was a glimmer of hope & beauty in a cursed existence.   On top of that, Eve was expecting & strongly desiring for him to be the offspring to strike the heel of the serpent's.   This is a perfect scenario for Eve to fall into the sin many mother's fall prey to - and that is - worshipping their children.

When a mother's praise lands on their child & not the Lord, trouble is inevitable.

Cain appears to be an unhappy person.  He appears bitter, self-focused, prideful, un-submissive and un-thankful.  Perhaps he had a root of bitterness or deep resentment.  Perhaps he thought as highly as himself as his mother thought of him... and he lived his life in utter self-pity & grievance because things continued to *not* go according to the expectations & plans his mother (and he) wanted.

A child who has adults thinking too highly of them and putting them on pedestals they were not meant to be on, will become self-focused and self-centered.  This is certainly true in Cain's case.  His legacy is of one who refused to turn his eyes off himself and on to the Lord.

Perhaps Eve really had no part in Cain's pride & self-idolatry.... but I know that the Lord used this story to show me how this same root of bitterness had been a constant thread in my childhood.  I can relate to Cain as the child who adults put on a pedestal.... and I can relate to Eve as the mother who is in risk of putting her children on pedestals.

There is no mistaking the pride I have carried in me as long as I can remember.  As I sat and thought on Cain & Eve - many memories rushed quickly through my mind of how this pride has expressed itself over the years.   I can see how the devil used what could have been pure, good love, affection, admiration from adults (and even the Lord) in my life and instead lured me into using that love to prop myself up higher & higher in a self-made, adult & culture-encouraged pedestal.

At the root of all our bitterness & resentment & anger .... is an insecurity.  An area where we have not let God's love in.  An area we have no surrendered to the Lord.  I see now that Cain & I could have much in common in this area too.  When you & others think so highly of yourself..... we begin to believe that our value lies in us & this "potential" everybody talks to us about.  I imagine that Cain was feeling that he had not lived up to the potential he was supposed to.  He was a failure.  God would not even accept his offering - how could he use him to turn things around for his family.

I too fear failure.  I fear insignificance.  I fear not living up to people's potential of me.  I fear disappointing others.   So much of the anger I have had in my life comes from this root of insecurity.  That fear only creeps up when I turn my eyes away from the Lord & what He says about me.

For Cain & I both - the Lord is calling us to give up our expectations we put on ourselves.  This cycle of pride could be immediately stopped if we would turn our eyes on Him!  If we could only surrender trying to find value in our work, our significance, our impact in other's lives!!  The truth is we are of value because we are HIS.  My joy, my value, my satisfaction must be found in Christ alone!  Not how the Potter uses me.  Not the plans that He has for my life.  But because He made me & He loves me.  The value in the clay... is to surrender to the Potter's hands.  How He uses me is HIS work.

I confess my pride.  I am sorrowful for how it's affected my siblings past & present.  My blood siblings & my siblings in Christ.

Because of my pride, it hurts when others are more gifted, when others are used more, when you accept other's offerings.  Because of my pride, I begin to believe God loves me more than _____.  Because of my pride, when I am not a favorite, it hurts.  My big ego wants me to be a "the" and not just an "a".

My pride makes me feel good about myself when I perform or appear as good as *I* want... and then feel terrible about myself when I don't.  Pride & self pity are symptoms of the same root.

I desperately seek significance & my soul is shouting somebody notice me!  But that is not wrong!  This is how amazing God is!! HE made me that way.  HE designed me to have that ache in my deepest being and has offered me the satisfaction for that ache - and that is HIS SON.  Looking at HIS face -  I am radiant (Psalm 34:5).    My search is over & my pride can be forever set aside.  I can be content with obscurity!  I can rest.  HE is the reason I am here and valuable.  

I thank you Lord that you do not play favorites! I thank you that you loved BOTH Abel and Cain.  Cain did not accept your love.  He was so busy trying to be who he wanted to be, striving to live up to the expectations he had for his life....trying to feel better about himself or make up for his frustration with himself - or-  being so full of himself, proud of himself...back & forth back & forth... the constant being SELF.

If only he had shifted his focus up, Cain would have seen you, ready to give him the one thing he desired in his life - LOVE...and with that... value and significance.