"Some natural tears they dropt, but wiped them soon;
The world was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide:
They hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow,
Through Eden took their solitary way."
Pause for a moment and think of that day that Adam and Eve were evicted from the beautiful garden called Eden...
It was an incredible place. Flowers bloomed endlessly. A veritable buffet of fresh, luscious fruit was everywhere. A cool tropical mist hung lazily in the air. A rainbow of color was splashed all around. Here the animals lived in perfection, never vengefully tearing one another apart, but peacefully existing together in a habitat of peace. Death did not exist, only life was here, perpetual and pure. It was paradise, it is no wonder that when God examined it His description was concise, but fitting, "It was good."
But even the most fertile imagination could not visualize this place as it actually was. Even the tongue replete with adjectives of wonder and mystery could not describe the beauty of Eden. Perfection is something we have never known. Completely unadulterated beauty is something our eyes have never seen. We dwell in a marred world, so a home without blemish is a foreign concept. We've never known anything but the fallen, the imperfect, the less than good. But still our minds can wonder as we imaginatively wander through a world better than our own.
The first time I read Milton's immortal lines, "The world was all before them", I inwardly shuddered. For although Adam and Eve had a big globe on which they could live, the crushing thing was, what they were leaving behind. The world with all of its vast opportunities was ahead of them but Eden was behind them. Though they were embarking on an incredible journey, they were leaving serenity, peace and fellowship, for an angel with a fiery sword to guard. Their sin opened their eyes but closed the gates of Eden. That one nibble from a good looking piece of fruit plunged the entire race of humanity into the abysmal blackness of separation from God, all because of a "little" sin.
So what's the lesson here?
While there are many directions we could go with this story, I want to emphasize the effects our decisions can have. When Adam and Eve were kicked out of Eden, though their all their life was before them, they had actually begun to experience the reality of death. God had said in Genesis 2:17, "of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." What God was saying here was not that the second their teeth sunk into the fruit they would drop dead; but that the instant they flouted His rule they would begin to die. Spiritual death would be immediate and physical death would begin to slowly, but relentlessly take its toll on mankind. Our souls would be lifeless and our bodies would steadily deteriorate.
When this couple left Eden they left all they had ever known to gain thorns, thistles and pain. Decisions have consequences. Sometimes we think a road before us will open up a world of opportunities, and sometimes they do. But what we must consider, is this gain we percieve at the cost of something far better? Are we gaining the world but losing Eden? Maybe an opportunity opens for career betterment, but pause and look at the situation circumspectly. Look at it with your eyes wide open in every direction. The fruit looked good to Eve but it cost her so much, more than she could have ever imagined. Your decisions just as Adam's, will affect others, your family namely. Think before you go on. Don’t consider your wants and desires primary in any situation. Your thoughtless bite from the tree of your own wants could drag others out of Eden. In all of life live with your eyes wide open and looking in evey direction, for all of the decisions that you make will have consequences, either good or bad.
"The world was all before them" but Eden was behind them.