By Michael E. Brooks
“Therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life” (Genesis 3:23-24 NKJV).
As we drove from Khulna to Dhaka in Bangladesh I noticed the kilometer markers on the roadside every few minutes, advising us that it was 150, then 140 kilometers to the city of our destination. I asked my Bangla companion, “From what point in the city is that distance measured, the outer city limits, the center, or elsewhere?” He replied, “There is a kilometer marker – called the zero point – in each city; they measure from there. In Dhaka it is in the downtown business district.”
Since that conversation I have made a point of looking for the zero point in every city to which I travel, mostly out of curiosity. As well, I do so with the knowledge that I frequently am not necessarily going to that particular point, but can deduce my actual mileage by knowing the relationship between the zero point and my destination.
I also take advantage of the fact that distance measures the same in both directions. The distance to a particular place is identical to one’s distance from that place. That seems simplistic and unnecessary to state, but is an obvious and vital truth. I sometimes kiddingly tell those who ask me to come and see them, “It is just as close from your place to mine, as it is from mine to yours.” In other words, you can come to me as easily as I can come to you.
Spiritually it is extremely important that we remember that same truth. We often preach about the need to come back to God. Many respond, “I have sinned too much, it is impossible for God to accept me.” We are assured of God’s love and mercy. He will forgive us, if we trust him and obey him (1 John 1:8-10). The real question is, “Am I willing to make the effort to travel the distance I must go to be reunited with God?”
As this question is considered, it may be important to remember that we have already traveled that exact distance in the wrong direction. We have no further to go than we have already come. When Adam and Eve were created they were clean and innocent, without sin and without shame. They were in Eden, a form of Paradise, and in total fellowship with God. Because of their sin they lost their place and began to journey away from their origin. Since then, whenever humans sin, they lose their innocence and their fellowship. They lose Paradise.
When Jesus died on the cross for our sins he provided the means by which every sinner may turn back and regain the fellowship with God which was lost through sin (Ephesians 2:13, 16). That is our zero point, the place from which we began this life. Any sinner may return to Paradise (Romans 10:13) by trusting in Jesus, turning from sin, and obeying the Gospel (Romans 6:16).
The modern proverb claims, “You cannot go home again.” The love and grace of God refute this. Because of Jesus Christ, each of us can return to the throne of Grace and receive the mercy and help which we so desperately need (Hebrews 4:16).
By Michael E. Brooks