After his men’s meeting on Saturday, Andy shared with me some of the things he’s been learning. One story in particular really stood out to me. Most of us are familiar with the story of Cain and Abel. We know that Cain murdered his brother out of jealousy, and some of us even remember that God punished him. I never really thought about the story after that point, but in Genesis 4:10, the story continues…
But the Lord said, “What have you done? Listen–your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground! You are hereby banished from the ground you have defiled with your brother’s blood. No longer will it yield abundant crops for you, no matter how hard you work! From now on you will be a homeless fugitive on the earth, constantly wandering from place to place.”
Cain replied to the Lord, “My punishment is too great for me to bear! You have banished me from my land and from your presence; you have made me a wandering fugitive. All who see me will try to kill me!”
The Lord replied, ” They will not kill you, for I will give seven times your punishment to anyone who does.” Then the Lord put a mark on Cain to warn anyone who might try to kill him. So Cain left the Lord’s presence and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.
Then Cain’s wife became pregnant and gave birth to a son, and they named him Enoch. When Cain founded a city, he named it Enoch after his own son.
This is where it all became new to me. Andy shared with me the contrast between Cain and Adam. Adam failed to be a man, so his judgement was against his ability to be a man. Cain defiled community by killing his brother, so his punishment was to be a homeless fugitive who would never be able to live in community. He also pointed out how God showed him mercy and grace by not letting anyone kill him. God knew Cain would feel the ache of lack of community, but He promised to hold him and keep him safe.
Then it gets really interesting…Cain defies God and builds a city!! God cursed him to be a wanderer and a fugitive, yet he went off and built a city in an effort to regain community. He depended on his own resources rather than God’s mercies.
Later, in Jude 1:11 Cain is mentioned again.
Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.
People choose to depend on their own resources to make life work and to deal with their fears and anxieties. This is the way of Cain.
How often am I guilty of this?!?! I was so convicted when Andy shared this with me. It’s totally the pattern of my life. I open myself to God and He exposes the sinful areas of my heart. I very clearly hear His voice and understand the way He wants me to respond, yet as soon as I walk away I am lured back to my own devices. Instead of spending more time being still in His presence or digging into His Word (which both seem uncomfortable or undesirable at the time) I resort to the things that help me cope with life. The things that have that enticing, numbing effect. The things that put a bandaid on my fears and anxieties, yet keep me far from the heart of God. For me it’s often TV, shopping, reading, or eating. None of these things are wicked in nature, but neither is building a city…unless, of course, it’s the thing God DOES NOT WANT YOU TO DO! Then it is wicked; it is a sin. I have been deceiving myself by thinking that I’m “doing pretty good” by abstaining from typical sins like gossip, envy or lust. In reality I’m sinning with every show, credit card swipe, page turned or bite I take. I am avoiding the very things that will heal my aching heart. I’m numb for a time, but all the while the abcess in my heart grows deeper and more painful.
Do you ever fall into the way of Cain?
This was a really good post Rebecca. I think that rather than coming to a solid conclusion that these things that you do are intrinsically sinful can be as prickly as it was naive to think that they couldn’t be wrong. I feel like the better approach is to evaluate moment by moment if you are violating a divine directive, rather than passing legislation in your mind that is inflexible in either direction.
It certainly creates a good litmus test the way you have framed it! Good job – again.
ouch!…Oh my gosh…..SO true