Perhaps the biggest lie of the enemy comes wrapped up in the Devil’s opening line, in Genesis 3:1: “Did God really say….?” How many of us have found ourselves overstepping God’s guidelines at various times of our lives, simply because we allowed ourselves to gradually slide along a continuum, away from God’s clear directives, to accommodate our own desires?
In this taster from Zoe Pencarrow and The River of Life, Zoe and her friend the Eagle are tucked up in the heavenly Library, reading a Book that will have a dramatic impact on Zoe’s life, as it helps her realise how seemingly insignificant decisions can have devastating impacts.
Despite its great height the room was warm and inviting. The ceiling was dark blue and tiny pinpoints of light sparkled from it like stars on a summer’s night. She started to get giddy looking up at the starry lights when she heard the reassuring voice of the eagle coming from near the fireplace.
“Sit down here,” he said as he motioned with his wing towards the chair nearest the fireplace.
Zoe sat herself down in the oversized armchair as the eagle pulled a book off the shelf and began to read from it.
“In the beginning there was no earth as it had not yet been made.”
She peered over the eagle’s shoulder at the book and saw a blank page next to the page the eagle was reading from.
“Why has that page got nothing on it?” she inquired.
The eagle just looked at her, and Zoe realized that if she kept interrupting it would take a very long time to find out the answer. Better to just let the eagle continue, she thought. She picked up the nearest cushion and hugged it tight. She loved stories, especially ones about adventures. She somehow knew this story was going to be the most important story she had ever heard.
“In the beginning,” the eagle began again, clearing his throat, “in the beginning there was no earth as it had not yet been made. Father God was very happy with his family, his Son Jesus, and Holy Spirit. But even though everything was perfect, they wanted to share their happiness. So Father had a wonderful idea. He would create a Bride for his Son; a beautiful Bride to be part of their family.”
The eagle paused and looked very thoughtful as he handed the book to Zoe. “You read it now,” he said. Still clutching the cushion, Zoe took the book, which—despite its size—was as light as a feather. She was so tempted to turn to the end and find out exactly what was going to happen. Zoe was the kind of girl who knew what everyone was going to get for Christmas and what was inside all the Christmas presents before they were even opened. This time though she just knew that it wasn’t right to turn to the end.
As Zoe took the book, she noticed the cover was very old and worn. Pressed into the leather cover was an embossed picture of a large and very beautiful tree. The tree was covered in fresh green leaves and delicious fruit that looked so real and tasty that you wanted to try some immediately. She was just about to open the book when she saw what looked like a crack in the leather right in the middle of the tree trunk.
Unexpectedly the wood on the fire gave a “crack,” and the fire cast a reddish glow over the book. For a moment Zoe thought that the tree looked like it was bleeding; then the fire flickered again, and the deep split in the tree looked golden. It was as if the tree was weeping a dark golden glowing resin that was somehow very painful and yet very precious. She felt the eagle’s eyes fixed upon her. As she glanced up she noticed again the golden scar on the eagle’s back. Both the eagle’s scar and the wound in the tree looked very similar.
Still wondering what this could mean, Zoe noticed the eagle nodding to her that it was time to open the book. As she opened it, the fire gave off another “crack,” and she nearly dropped it. The book was written in green ink. Next to the story were intricate pictures painted in beautiful colors.
There were birds, and animals, stars and planets, maps, and lots of people. The story was written in a language she had never seen before, yet Zoe knew that as soon as she started reading she would somehow know what it meant.
“In the beginning,” she read, “there was love.” She liked this story very much already. “Love was with the Father, his beloved Son, and his precious Holy Spirit. They all loved each other very much, and there was perfect harmony. The loving Father said to Jesus his Son, “I want to give you a Bride to share our creation with: someone special, made just for you. But because I love you so much I am not going to give you just one person but many, many people who will come from all different tribes and nations. Just one person would not be enough for you because your love is so great. But together with all of these people you can share your kindness and goodness forever and ever. And this Bride will love you back not because she has to but because she wants to.”
Zoe could see what looked like a dark cloud lined with gold that looked like molten lava. It was hovering back and forth over some sort of night sky, which is really kind of strange as most pictures in books don’t move as you look at them! But this one did. The hovering cloud reminded her of a bumblebee buzzing back and forth as it went to and fro between flowers. Zoe instinctively knew that this moving radiant light was Holy Spirit; the third person of the God Club. Everywhere the light touched, darkness became light until the whole page was aglow.
Zoe could see Jesus speaking and where his words went, continents began to form. At the same time as the Father spoke, his words were like hands, pressing and pushing the earth, like a potter shaping a piece of clay. Giant ridges that became mountains rose up. Holy Spirit then began to cry and whirl around dancing. But these were not tears of sadness but of joy. The tears fell like gentle rain on the earth and where they landed lakes, rivers, and oceans were formed.
This is amazing, thought Zoe.
Jesus continued to speak. His words flowed out of him like a river and became a song. Wherever his song touched the land, it sank into it like seeds into fertile soil. Before her eyes plants and then birds and animals grew up out of the ground. Stars and planets overhead burst into life as the Father, too, danced, clapped, and sang for joy.
Zoe then saw the Father hunched over and crouching on the ground as though he had a bad stomach ache. There was a stillness and expectancy in the air. All eyes and ears were turned towards the Father; watching, waiting. It was like he was baking the most amazing cake and everyone wanted to see what kind it was. Slowly the Father stood up and stepped back. In the ground was a hollow. The Father had pressed the exact shape of his body into it. He had then taken some earth and lovingly pressed it into the mold. The Father stepped back as Jesus lay down on the mold. He opened his mouth and blew into the still form. A cloud of gold flowed out of Jesus’s mouth. It was like when Holy Spirit was creating the earth and the sky. The cloud covered the still form like toffee over a caramel apple. Jesus then stood up and stepped back.
The form sneezed, stretched, yawned and then sat up. A man looked around. As his eyes focused on the paradise he found himself in, he smiled. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit watched the man with great contentment. It was almost impossible for them to remain quiet as they were so excited.
The man got up and walked around. The smile on his face slowly faded. The Father said, “He is lonely; it’s time he had a friend just like himself—yet different.”
Suddenly Zoe found herself inside the story book, in the garden, standing next to the man. The man looked at her shyly and smiled. At that moment Zoe knew that they would be great friends. Before she had time to introduce herself the Father, Jesus, and Holy Spirit stepped out from behind a tree.
The Father said, “You can eat from any plant or fruit from this garden, except that one over there.”
Zoe turned to look at where he was pointing. It had exceptionally juicy looking fruit with beautiful flowers. She was just about to ask, “Why not?” when all three disappeared and left her alone with the man.
Well, the days and weeks that followed were times of great adventure and excitement. The man’s name was Adam because that name meant “red” like the earth. Every day they would go off exploring and discovering new things in the garden. One day as they were playing hide and seek, Zoe found herself at the foot of an unusually tall tree. It was the same tree she had seen many weeks ago that someone had said something about not eating or something like that. As she looked at the tree, it looked very beautiful and the fruit seemed so ripe and delicious. Zoe stared at the fruit and the more she did, the more hungry she became.
I wonder why the Father said not to eat it, she thought. He has always been so kind to me and has only wanted me to have good things. Surely he would want me to have this fruit too. It’s bound to have lots of vitamins and be very healthy for me. What he probably really meant was not to eat too much at once so I don’t get a tummy ache. Yes, I’m sure that’s what he meant.
The more Zoe thought about it and looked at the fruit the more she convinced herself that was really what the Father meant. She reached out to take the fruit, it looked so good. Zoe’s heart was pounding and yet at the back of her mind she knew that what she was doing was wrong. Crunch, she bit into the delicious fruit. It tasted every bit as good as it looked.
Just then Adam burst onto the scene. “Found you,” he shouted. Zoe was caught in the act with the fruit still in her hand, its juice dripping down her arms.
“Isn’t that the fruit the Father said not to eat?” Adam stammered.
“Yes, but it is so tasty,” she replied sheepishly, offering Adam the remaining piece to taste.
Adam looked at her, then at the fruit. He too wanted to taste it for himself. He also didn’t want to disappoint Zoe. He took a deep bite into it.
Suddenly Zoe began to feel sick. It wasn’t the kind of sickness that you pretend to have when you don’t want to go to school. She felt sick all over. Her chest felt all tight, her head hurt, and she became dizzy. But worst of all the sick feeling was inside her; inside her heart. She knew that she had done something dreadfully wrong. Nothing she could ever do would be able to remove the deep feeling of guilt she now felt.
“Oh my,” she said, “I hope that fruit wasn’t rotten.” Everything started to spin around and around before her eyes. The ground looked like a giant whirlpool that spun faster and faster. Everything became a blur—then all went quiet.
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