Adam had complete access to God; to the Mystery of the cosmos, the Wonder of all creation. Imagine the conversations:
"Abba, why did you make watermelon?"
"For your joy."
"But I already have grapes and apples and blueberries and bananas. Why is the world so delicious?"
"My goodness can’t be displayed in just one kind of fruit or taste. Every time you eat or drink—in whatever you do, I want you to wonder, to awe in, to glory in my manifest goodness."
So, Adam did. And he never got tired of God.
You know how even the best marriage, the best relationship needs some space? I mean I love my three little girls like nothing else, but when I have to watch them for a day because my wife is gone, it feels good to get that break when she comes home.
Adam never experienced that. He never needed a break from God.
An infinite God of infinite beauty and infinite goodness is infinitely inexhaustible. God is indefatigable in his very nature; and his nature is glorious. In his presence is fullness of joy and at his right hand our pleasures forevermore (Ps. 16:11)—more forevers is a very long time.
The Wonderful God
Adam walked at the right hand of this joyful Presence. To be in the presence of God is to be filled with wonder. God is wonderful - awe-full - and infinitely so.
Wondering is childlike; kids wonder so well. My three little girls are amazed at the moon. (Do you remember when you stopped?) They are in awe of how big and strong Daddy is. Adam, as God’s son was full of wonder too. I wonder what it would be like to be a kid again with God?
Harper, my oldest, will boldly state, “You’re so strong Daddy!” You see, kids don’t understand most things, but they don’t have that skeptical doubt stuff yet; they still have a sense of wonder. She’s in awe of how strong Daddy is, and do you know what that does? Her wonder at Daddy’s strength fuels her trust in me. Her wonder breeds faith. Being in Daddy’s presence and wondering at Daddy’s strength makes her feel safe. It even makes her happy too when I throw her up in the air and catch her!
They awe in mama’s beauty and it fuels their own confidence. They float around the room in princess dresses, performing ballet shows. Their awe at the moon makes them ask questions but they don’t laugh skeptically. There’s no scoffing in wondering. When you’re in the presence of something awe-ful, you want to just linger, enjoy, maybe participate. Isn’t that why we hum, tap our feet, lean in, or take a picture when we enjoy something? Skeptics don’t wonder. Have you ever met a skeptic that hums?
Jewish philosopher, Abraham Heschel, describes the ineffable, the wonderful, like this:
“To [wonder] is to part company with words, the tangent to the curve of human experience lies beyond the limits of language. The world of things we perceive is but a veil. Its flutter is music, its ornament science, but what it conceals is inscrutable. Its silence remains unbroken; no words can carry it away. [Wonder] is a sense for the transcendence, for the reference everywhere to mystery beyond all things. It enables us to perceive in the world intimation of the divine…to sense the ultimate in the common and the simple; to feel in the rush of the passing, the stillness of the eternal.”
Later he will say, “Awe precedes faith; it is the root of faith.” This is what Adam and Eve had.
The presence of God = the wonder of God = faith in that wonderful God
Access to God is access into the wonders of God and his creation. To paraphrase St Augustine, “Religious people find God helpful, Christians find God wonderful.”
But when Adam and his bride sinned, they lost a sense of their wonder.
But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5)
They traded awe for knowledge and wonder for answered questions. They traded fruit that tasted delicious because an inexhaustible God made it, for fruit that tastes delicious for a moment, then it’s gone. Content for the stream, they lost the desire and wonder of the ocean.
They also lost access to the right hand of this joyful Presence. Cast out of the garden, Adam now experienced joys that terminate on themselves and pleasures that are fleeting and short-lived. A curtain of flaming swords (Gen. 3:24) separated them from the temple-garden where God is, flanked by angel guards, and with it, their sense of wonder and awe was truncated. Like a deflated balloon with only a remnant of air left, a scrunched up Happy Birthday script testifying to a joy-filled party that once was.
Their wondering turned to wandering.
The wonder of it all—the paradox even—is that when Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” he lost his access to the wonderful Father that we might have it! The Son was both wonderful and full of wonder, standing by his Father’s side for all eternity, taking in their wonders (Prov. 8:22-30, John 1:1-3, 18). But in God’s most wonderful work, he lost the wonderful presence of the Father, the curtain of his flesh torn in two, that we would enter in awe again.
Think about what heaven will be like. We worship an infinite God so his wonder is infinite in scope. The wonders of God are inexhaustible and unsearchable, and like the ever expanding vastness of the cosmos, God will forever be out of our reach to wonder at, while at the same time, within our reach to enjoy! Imagine the conversations you’ll have:
"Abba, is there really more?"
"More of what, my child?"
"More…everything. More to see, to hear, to smell, to touch, to learn, to wonder at?"
"Yes, there is. My goodness can’t be displayed in just one forever, but forevermore."
Editor's Note: This is an excerpt from Jim’s book, Jesus For You, and originally appeared at JimEssian.com.