"If you leave here, you will not find the way back."
Paladin spoke softly. "You will fix the hole then?"
"No, Paladin, I created the hole because I love you so much."
"But you just said you don't want us to leave."
"I don't want you to leave. I want you to stay with me, but I did make the opening when I built the wall."
"But if you don't fix it," said Paladin, "the children might leave."
"I know, Paladin. But I want the children to stay because they want to, not because they have to."
What if Eden wasn't a garden but a village? What if that village was filled with not just two, but with many? What if they were children? Adam and Eve were very much like children just as Paladin is very much like us. Max Lucado's engaging story is of a curious child surrounded with Shaddai's perfect love. Shaddai built a boundary, a barrier, a massive stone wall, rock by rock to protect his creation. Yet he left a hole. As parents we would never leave a hole in the baby gate or a door open in our moving car. Why would the Creator take such risk?
I think it has something to do with the relationship God longs for. He wanted Adam and Eve to to be the King an Queen not the slaves. He wants us to be his children not his prisoners. Shaddai wanted Paladin to choose to stay in the village trusting his tender love. But like Adam, Eve and often us, Paladin thinks maybe Shaddai might be wrong about this one. And before he knows it his knees are pressed against hard red dirt and his eyes are peering at the light on the other side.
The fruit was sweet and crunchy in Eden- I bet.
The forest smelled of sweet flowers. Thick fir trees blocked most of the sky. And nothing seemed scary. Until Paladin turned around. His eyes saw the most horrible thing he could imagine. The hole in the wall was filled. There was no way back.
The spiritual death Adam and Eve experienced was as final as a solid rock wall. There was no way they could find the way back to intimacy with God.
Before Paladin's curious feet led him to the hole, Shaddai had carved a wooden walking staff. Shaddai picked it up before Paladin was out the other side. He knew what was coming. He was prepared to save.
Revelation 13:8 "The Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world."
Our Lamb, our Lion, our Savior knew he would make a way back for all his lost children. He was prepared to use a wooden cross. He knew what was coming. He was prepared to save.
Max Lucado weaves another captivating story around a spiritual truth. He gives the mystery of free will a tender stage with warm characters. The conclusion of the story is left open. I'm hoping it will spur an open discussion between you and your child about free will and God's love.