I had no idea how emotional it would be to clean out our attic and garage. This has been a huge project involving lots of late nights and weekends spent going through dusty boxes… has anybody else out there ever been floored by the sheer amount of material belongings that can accumulate over several years?
I’ve cried while looking through baby clothes, cried while looking at wedding memorabilia, cried over little toddler toys…but I never expected to totally lose it over a box of old cassette tapes.
As his library grows, my dad has been passing down books and resources to me. I am ecstatic over this, as there is nothing that thrills me as much as going through a box of books and discovering the treasures therein… (take me to a used book store and leave me there for several hours. I’ll feel like it’s Christmas and my birthday. Add a pumpkin spice latte to that and just leave me for the whole day. ) Anyway, I’m especially happy with my dad’s books because they have his notes in them… I can see which books have been resources for his ministry and there is so much knowledge just waiting there for me.
So, I was going through a recently delivered box and I found a stack of old tapes. Not just any tapes. The cassette tapes that were the soundtrack to my childhood. Sandi Patti, The Talleys, Amy Grant, The McClendons (a NC couple who still to this day evangelize through song), the Nelons… these were the melodies that filled our house on Sunday mornings while we tied hair ribbons, pulled on lace-trimmed ‘church’ socks and slid on shiny Sunday shoes… these were the lyrics I knew by heart and the whole family would sing in the car… these tapes hold the essence of my childhood.
I got a bit teary-eyed as I looked at the pictures of the familiar musicians… and when I put on the Sandi Patti tape (a recording of a live show she once did), I was shocked that I knew every single word, including the little memories she shared. I was even more shocked to find myself bawling my eyes out.
I was just overwhelmed with this nostalgic feeling… I suddenly felt homesick for that time of my life… I missed being that little girl who had no problems too big for her daddy to solve, whose only responsibilities were being nice to the little siblings and cleaning her room, who was free to read away the afternoon on her grandmother’s front porch swing and to dream about the anything-is-possible future… in short, I was simply longing for the era of innocence in my life.
Because we all come to the point in our lives when we understand the sorrow in the world… we all come to that time when we choose between right and wrong… we all grow-up and become our own person (for better or worse).
And hearing those songs made me miss the before-time. The time when there were no secrets between my parents and me… the days (before those infamous teen years) when there was an easy communion… no mistakes, words, or events to build walls between us.
Don’t get me wrong. I have a great relationship with my parents. I depend on them to be my sounding board, my biggest supporters, my wisdom-panel. But, as with all relationships, there are difficult moments. And I can never get back that total dependence that I used to have on them… it just doesn’t work that way.
In fact, once we do start forming our relationships with other people… there isn’t a perfect one out there. And, listening to Sandi Patti sing “Jesus Loves Me”, I longed for perfect communion… for peaceful innocence.
It was with all of this emotion that I began to reread Genesis and was overcome with compassion for Adam and Eve. Imagine — they had that perfect communion with God. They had innocence and no fear… no shame. One day they were walking with God in a wonderful love-relationship, soaking in the beauty of the garden… and then a bite of forbidden fruit changed everything. They disobeyed God and instead of waiting for His next visit, they were hiding in the bushes when evening fell. (Genesis 3: 8-10)
My heart breaks at the thought because I’ve felt that way, too… and I know the devastation that separation brings. We all face that moment when we have the knowledge of good and evil… and because all men have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), we all know what it’s like to take that taste of rebellion. It builds a wall between us and God. It casts a shadow over our lives. We can’t freely run to Him when He calls our name or we need Him… instead, we cower in some corner and fear His presence. And if you’ve ever gone from joyfully greeting Him to cringing in shame, you understand this painful loss.
Innocence did not have a long reign on Earth… it doesn’t have a long reign in our lives… and yet, we are all homesick for that time. We all long for an untainted walk with God… because He made us for that kind of relationship with Him. There’s an ache within us that can only be filled by Him…
But just like I can’t go backwards and become a child again, we can’t somehow go back in time to stop Eve from taking that first bite.
However, here’s a different spin on the whole grown-up relationship thing. Some could say that my relationship with my parents means more now than it did when I was a little kid… because it has been tested. As I grew older, it became a choice to communicate with them, to keep them involved in my life. I love them for who they are to me, for all they’ve done for me, because I genuinely like them. We could say the same for our relationship with God. Through Jesus, He made a way for us to rebuild that communion with Him… He saw our failures and loved us anyway, and it became a choice for us to love Him in return. The sin is covered by the blood of Christ, and we can again boldly come into His presence, free of shame and free to worship in spirit and in truth.
Our story has an amazingly happy ending. Now, as humans… we still struggle with the separation from our Creator… we still feel that yearning for total communion with Him. Guess what? One day that longing will be fulfilled. “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then, face to face; now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” (1 Cor. 13:12). Imagine it! One day, on that eternal morning in a new paradise, everything that was lost to us will be fully restored! We will see Him face to face! We will know Him as He knows us! The perfect communion will once again be ours… and that ancient ache to know Him more will be satisfied.
So when we feel that homesick feeling, when we are overwhelmed with the wish for innocence, when we mourn for that lost paradise… just think of it as a reminder of the great homecoming day, when we will walk in perfect harmony with our Father. We can look for that day with hope… we can long for it with gladness… living in His love and the promise of our future, we can say, “even so, come Lord Jesus!”