For some reason, I seem to identify with the characters in the Bible that get into trouble. Now not the ones like David, Jezebel, Ananias and Sapphira; but more the ones that get criticized or reprimanded: Martha, Peter, Cain. So today’s reading seems a little appropriate.
“You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”
There has always been something about Cain (pre-murder) that I have identified with. I am not sure if it is the constant feeling I have that I haven’t done ENOUGH, that brings that identification. OR it could be that more times in my life I did things wrong (not what God wanted) when I thought they were right (close enough). And finally there is feeling like I have always seem to end up in 2nd place and that is a BAD place to be. I mean I heard all growing up, “There is only 1 winner, there is no 2nd best.” So if some gets praise higher than mine, I must be the loser. I know a few pretty deep rooted performance issues I think. 🙂 Or it could be as simple as I’m the oldest and Cain’s the oldest; I have been hearing bible stories since before I can remember, so it could just be that simple. Yet, even with these identifiers I do not feel connected with Cain in his CHOICE to kill Abel. That is where I find him going to an extreme I could NEVER imagine. See People pleasing post for reference.
Although I am finding that with the last 2 sentences in the reading today, I am reminded that God’s point was to warn Cain of what was in his heart. Funny thing these days is how much I hear EVERYWHERE to follow your heart. From friends on relationships, to the television about the latest product I just MUST HAVE, to guys who think a girl will fall in love by defaulting to an emotional whim. It seems odd to listen to the one thing that seems to get us into the most trouble. Now in this verse it doesn’t specifically name the heart as the source of the sin, but it says it is crouching right at the door; ever heard the expression door to your heart? hmmmm. And even a step further is that this is EAGER to control you.
These conflicts between listen to your gut, follow your heart, do what feels good AND take the higher road, good comes to those who wait, use your mind all seem to have existed even stronger as I get older. I am continually at conflict with the culture that wants to remove all pain, inconvenience, conflict, and discomfort from our lives which seems to coincide with what Cain chose to do. It wasn’t the fact he brought grain instead of an animal offering, it was that Cain took the short cut, easy way, most convenient path. And when it comes to giving to God what he has ASKED of us; he’s not interested in the short cut. God is consistently challenging us to press through, work harder, survive the pain, overcome the challenge, do what’s right as the mind decides. Even Cain did not see the laziness or short-comings of his sacrifice. That God was using it as a lesson to challenge him to do better and not settle for less seems to have been lost on Cain. But in his anger at being “taught” this lesson it erupted into murder instead of the change of heart God wanted.
I’ve always wondered why sin seems to control us, dominate us, or possess us; but the good things we have to strive for, fight for, and work for don’t stick unless we practice and use them ALL the time. But when sin gets a teeny tiny entrance into our lives it grabs on for dear life and digs in and won’t let go. I am remembering an X-files episode (well episodes) from years ago about the black oil. Now this black oil had a way of sticking to itself, but it hide in its victims and only floated to the surface (in their eyes) from time to time and OF COURSE when no one was looking. But this oil was hard to remove and more often than not it would drive its victims to some horrible action, which led to their deaths. Sounds like Sin to me.
So even in one of the oldest stories, it was thought-provoking to me that Cain was overcome by anger and controlled by sin which led to him missing the lesson that God was trying to teach him. So I am challenged to see some of my situations and ask through my hurt and anger: OK GOD!!! What are you trying to teach me? Because I know I do not want to let my anger drive me to kill as Cain did.