Posted by: Rex Boyles | January 15, 2008

“Cain – my brother, the sinner.”

(I did not write this blog post. But these are my words … my heart. May my friend’s pain – my brother’s pain – open our eyes to the damning and damaging ways that we have treated sinners.) 

 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD.  But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering,  but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.  Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast?  If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.”  And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.   Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” ”I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”  The LORD said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.  Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand.  When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.”  Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is more than I can bear.  Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”  But the LORD said to him, “Not so; if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the LORD put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him.  So Cain went out from the LORD’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.”

This is a story (Genesis 4:3-16) that I have read over and over and over again – I have heard some great lessons – taught some lessons and preached using this story as an illustration on several occassions.  Such lessons such as what the problem was with Cain’s sacrifice over Abel’s sacrifice, anger and the effect that anger has on you and the sin that is waiting to get you when you don’t handle your anger in a proper way.  Actually, the way I remember it was not so much control your anger (i.e. “Be angry and sin not”) – it was more – DON’T BE ANGRY!  I heard a few lessons on whether or not we are really our brother’s keepers.  I even remember a sermon where one of the main topics was what Abel’s blood was screaming out from the ground.

 But in all my years of reading this story – either from Children’s Bible Story books or straight from the Bible – not once have I ever felt a connection to Cain – until now.  For some reason, this time when I read it, Cain’s cry to God – after the sin – after the smart mouth talk of a guilty man who has been caught – Cain said these words, “My punishment is more than I can bear.  Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”  This time. when I read this story – those words rang loud and clear.

I remember – after my sin – the feeling of despair.  I remember the feeling of anger.  I remember waking up in the middle of the night with panic attacks and thinking – for sure I was dying that night.  I remember the fear of losing everything I loved – everything I worked for – destroying my lifelong dream!  I knew well that the punishment was more than I could bear.

Being “driven from the land” – where was I going to go?  The church who oversaw my ministry and my work wanted nothing to do with me.   To them, I was damaged goods and not worthy of repair.  Could I go back to the church that taught me – that trained me – that poured so much into me? To them – according to them … I was someone that they “didn’t know what to do with”.

“Hidden from His presence” – I knew better – but there were so many who seemed to wish it were so – or maybe it wasn’t from His presence – but at least from their presence.  The comments, the looks, the cold shoulder, the silence…

I will be “a restless wanderer” … if you have ever been caught in a sin…this rings loud and clear.  Walk into the church building – where you should find love and peace and rest and healing – and instead it brings discomfort, frustration, hurt and pain.  Travel to a city – where you were at one time connected – and feel the discomfort as you cringe at the fear of who is going to recognize you and “put you in your place” again.  Have someone ask you about your past – make a connection – and feel the knot tie up your stomach … that’s a restless wanderer.

Whoever “finds me will kill me” … there were some, for real, that would have preferred that I had lived under the old law – so they could see me under that pile of rocks – and at times – I would have preferred to have been under that pile – maybe as a place to hide.

I know that this is not necessarily how folks really treated me – and that much of this was perceived on my part (although much of it really was not) – but you understand – when the pain is so great and the sin so bad – that you just want to die and be done – these statements – made by Cain – are exactly the way I felt.

I love God – just four chapters into the first book that introduces us to Him – He once again shows us how He treats sinners – like the clothes He made for Adam and Eve after their sin.  His response to Cain…”Not So!”  Did you see that???!!!!  Cain just murdered his brother – God explained to Cain what the nautural consequences of his sin were going to be – and when Cain cried out that it was going to be too much – and that there would be those who would want to go beyond the natural consequences of sin and place some “imputed consequences” of sin on Cain – by killing him – God said, “NOT SO”!  He protected Cain from imputed consequences!  In punishment and a curse – God still provided Cain with some mercy.

That is my God …

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