I’m tired of buying frozen blueberries, and though I know fresh blueberry season is right around the corner, I’m impatient for inexpensive, fresh blueberries to arrive at a store near me. Right now, I could buy a teeny container of fresh blueberries for $10. I think I’ll wait. In the meantime, this longing for blueberries takes me back to a time when I was a child, more “worst of times” than “best of times” in my memory bank.
When I was growing up, one of my next-door neighbors had a line of blueberry bushes that grew along his driveway, separating our yard from his, and each year, I greatly anticipated the time when the vines would fill with ripe berries. I’d go over, ring the doorbell and ask permission to pick some of the berries for myself and my family. I’d gleefully fill up a bowl with them.
One year, however, when I rang the doorbell, the answer was, “No, not yet. I want to make a blueberry pie for my husband first. Then you can come over and pick some.” I walked away from the door, feeling sad that my plans for the afternoon had just been thwarted.
Then, I don’t know what possessed me. There was no snake poking its head out from the bushes calling me over, but there might as well have been.
A neighborhood friend, several years older than I, was waiting on my deck to hear the answer. In the (not so very) long walk from my neighbor’s front door to my back deck, something took hold of me. “She said we could pick some.” So off we went, bowls in hand.
We had a great time picking blueberries that afternoon, and I’m sure plenty made their way into our mouths rather than the bowls. I really don’t know why I didn’t think I’d get caught. I’m pretty sure consequences didn’t even cross my mind.
Much to my little-girl surprise, the neighbor told my parents what I had done. They were furious – and disappointed. And I’m sure I got a well-deserved punishment, although I don’t even remember what it was.
What I do still remember is how sick I felt about having lied and gotten myself in trouble, gotten my friend in trouble, and taken away my neighbor’s chances of getting his blueberry pie. Worst of all, I don’t even remember ever having the courage to go over in subsequent years to ask for forgiveness … or more blueberries.
The blame game
I also remember – vividly – wishing that my friend had gone over to the neighbor’s house with me to ask in the first place. She was several years older than I, and I’m sure she wouldn’t have let me be so stupid. So darn it, why didn’t she come with me?
See, I wanted it to be someone else’s fault, not just mine. The responsibility of that disappointment was more than my young heart could bear. The anger of my parents and neighbors. The shame I felt. Shouldn’t it be someone else’s fault? After all, I’m just a little girl. I can’t always be expected to behave and make the right choices, can I?
I was Eve in that blueberry garden, and I desperately wanted to find a snake or an Adam to blame. But I was fully to blame because the actions were solely mine.
I’m glad to have that painful childhood memory now, because it makes it impossible to feel all holier-than-thou when I read the story of humanity’s fall in Genesis. I wouldn’t have done any better. I wouldn’t have made any wiser choices than Adam and Eve did. And when it came time to face my angry father, I wouldn’t have readily accepted the blame either.
Here’s the wonder of it all: God forgave Adam and Eve, just as my parents forgave me (and I’m pretty sure the neighbors forgave me, too). Adam and Eve didn’t deserve forgiveness, and they faced severe consequences for their disobedience, but God still made it possible for them to live, not in the way he had originally hoped for them, but still in a way that kept humanity going to Noah and Moses and David and Mary and Joseph and Jesus … and finally to you and me.
From the Garden of Eden to today, we’re here for God’s will and to fulfill his purpose for our lives. Sin separates us from God and becomes an obstacle that creates a distance in our relationship with him. But when we’re done hiding from him and finished blaming others for our own mistakes, he’s there waiting for us. Yes, he punishes us as disobedient children, but he’ll also give us his love and the resources we need to thrive and carry on with his plan.
Is there something you’re currently trying to hide from God? How’s that working out for you? Can you lay it before him and ask for forgiveness? Is there a person you’re blaming for some wrong in your life? Can you ask God to help you forgive that person? Or maybe acknowledge if your own actions led to the wrong?
Maybe you’re facing a tantalizing temptation right now. Before you give in, can you put the temptation in God’s hands and let him love you through this troubling, difficult time? He showed us through his treatment of Adam and Eve that he’ll love us right through whatever dumb mistakes we make.
All right. That’s enough preachin’ for today.
I think I’ll go eat a few fresh strawberries. They’ll have to get me through to blueberry season here. Plus, stores are practically giving strawberries away these days.