From the First Breath

by Amanda Albright
(coming later this week)


How perfection made room for imperfect people.

For a few glorious years in my early twenties, I lived in the Dominican Republic and taught fourth grade to a crowd of exuberant, joyful nine-year olds. I loved it—all of it. I felt like I was living the exact life I should be, like God had tailor-made the story for me. It was beautiful. It was challenging. It was fruitful. I thrived.

And then, God asked me to leave, to move home to the US. It’s hard to explain. It didn’t make sense in my mind and certainly didn’t line up with the desires and feelings of my heart. Nonetheless, somewhere in my gut, I felt strong conviction that God was leading me back home.

Truth be told, I’d had a plan for a long time—I had moved to a tiny, tropical mountain town that I loved. I planned to stay and enjoy it and work my little heart out for years and years to come, for the good and glory of God’s Kingdom. God’s direction to leave and go home to the US just didn’t fit into my plan. I loved my story, the people I lived and worked with, my little neighborhood, the adventure ushered in every single day. What’s more, I felt so called to the work, work that I knew was precious to God’s heart. I couldn’t imagine that God could possibly mean what he was speaking to my spirit—to leave a thriving community, and calling, and go to a place where I couldn’t see either.

Why would God ask me to leave a life and story that felt so tailor made—so perfect for me?

I couldn’t make sense of it and I didn’t want it. So I resisted Him and refused to accept what He spoke to me. I talked at God, instead of to God, much less listening to him. I got mired up in my own thinking. I told God that what he was asking me made absolutely no sense. I was noisy and insistent (I tend to be, when I think I’m right) instead of attentive and receptive to his promises of what obedience would bring.

For a handful of miserable months, I argued and argued with my Creator. I begged. I cried. I thought if I could just see why, then I would obey. I just didn’t want to do what God was pointing me to.

Eventually, I caved and obeyed. Choosing to leave my Dominican home was an act of surrendering my own right to write my own story, and let God write it instead. And right after that moment of surrender, it became painfully clear why God was calling me home and what he was calling me to.

God suddenly gave me a job that felt like a miracle. I had fought him, ignored him, told him he was wrong for months. I had been a royal pain. And yet, as soon as I stopped fighting him, he showed me the provision and calling he had been holding out to me for all of those confusing, agonizing months. In my most stubborn, most resistant, and therefore most painful season, God showed me grace. He gave me a job to do. He planted me in the middle of a new story, with provision and purpose.

When I read the story of Adam in the Bible, I can’t help but think, “why oh why didn’t he just listen to God? How could he have doubted?” But I am just like Adam—he wanted to do his own thing, like I want to do my own thing. Adam and I, we both try to grab the pen out of his mighty hand to scribble our own lines into the story. Trusting God can be fruit-sized or it can be international- move sized, but if it’s trusting God that we’re talking about, does it matter if we’re talking fruit or countries? Adam’s storyline is one of a trustworthy God who remains faithful in the face of a waffling distrust and defiance.

Through Adam’s act of defiance—that famous bite of rebellion—human sin and brokenness entered the world. Adam’s disobedience introduced sin and brokenness into the story God wanted to write for humankind. But this is my favorite part of the story— in Genesis 3:8-9, God went looking for Adam.

In the darkest moment, on the heels of their rebellion, God went looking for his kids. He entered into their brokenness. He made them clothes and food—provision. He promised he would send victory over the enemy. Just like God met Adam with provision and promise, God meets all of us with provision and promise. Even in our darkest moments and our fiercest rebellion, God meets us with plans for new, abundant life.

Because this is how God writes stories: He creates life where only death should be.

Breaking Down the Bible

In these first two chapters of Genesis (Genesis 1:26-2:25), God makes people and immediately charges them with calling and purpose. On day six of his wild spree of creation, God made man. Genesis 2:7 says “Then the Lord God formed the man out of the dust from the ground and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and the man became a living being.” God declares man as his image-bearer and creates human life with his own breath. There is intimacy here, a nearness that we see only in God’s creation of his image-bearers.

In Genesis 1:28, Adam is created and immediately given a role to play in God’s story. After creation, Adam is instantly bestowed authority and power to live and act meaningfully in God’s story. God extravagantly displays his power and creativity, creating and speaking the universe into being, but chooses to share his power with Adam, this new Image Bearer. He invites Adam to join him in his work and storytelling.

In verses 1:18-22, God and Adam go on a quest together—a quest for a helper. God says Adam needs “a helper corresponding to him,” so God brings all the animals he has made to Adam. It says God brought each of the animals to Adam, “to see what he would call it.” This is another picture of intimacy, of nearness, of a choice to be with his created image. God could have orchestrated this work from afar.
He could have sent Adam alone on the quest for a partner, giving him instructions to follow. He could have just made Adam’s partner right away. He’s God, after all. He knew who Adam wasn’t going to find his helper until she was made. But instead, God works alongside Adam, watching him, working with him. Together, they enact the story of finding a partner for Adam.

When Eve enters the scene, they are both invited to live and create and enjoy the story God is writing for them. In Genesis 3:1-7, Adam and Eve decide to start their own journey—their own quest. In Genesis 3:6-7, Adam steps across the line God had drawn for him. His act of defiance shows a lack of trust and a desire to be in charge. Instead of living within the story God was writing for him, Adam attempts to start writing the story for himself.

We know the consequences. We live with them every day. We carry the brokenness, the trauma, the separation, and the death that Adam’s choice introduced into our lives. Nonetheless, God is still the Storyteller.

The Master Storyteller

Through Adam’s story, what do we learn about God and the stories he writes?

God creates with purpose. We see in the story of Adam that God is the originator of life. With the words of his mouth, he speaks life into being. He intentionally and masterfully creates. He is not a haphazard storyteller. He is deliberate, powerful, and eternally committed to breathing stories of life into existence.

God delights in being with his creation. We see God working alongside Adam to name the animals. We see him walking with Adam and Eve in the cool of the garden. We see him choosing to be with his children, inviting them into the story he’s writing. God delights in co-creating purposeful work with us and for us. He knows we can only be fully alive in his story when we’re living out an intimate relationship with him. Surrendering to God as the Master Storyteller does not mean passive observance; God invites us into active participation. And our participation and co-authoring the story leads to greater depth of relationship, trust, and intimacy. God is not a removed, distant storyteller. He writes with nearness. He chooses to be with his beloved.

God knows our needs and provides for them abundantly, without restriction. God’s story begins with abundance and provision. God shows off what he can do—his world is intricate and complex, and teeming with possibility. Everything Adam and Eve needed was found in the garden before they chose the apple and rebelled against God. And after their rebellion, God meets them and clothes them and feeds them. He provides because he is faithful, whether we are choosing rebellion or relationship.

Even when death came to try to derail God’s best, God gave his fallen creation a powerful promise in the curse of the serpent, “I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.” In the middle of cursing sin, God promises that one day the Son of Man will come and strike the head of the snake. One day, the serpent will be totally overcome.

God has a rescue plan!

Even when death came to try to derail the new thing God was doing, his intentions and desires for life were clear: God created his story to empower new beginnings. In the darkest moments of all of our lives, God still creates life where only death should be.

Study the Story

    Read Genesis 1:26-27. Consider the 25 verses that come before this small passage: what do those verses show us about who God is? What do those 25 verses suggest about what it means to be “made in the image of God”?
    How does the curse found in Genesis 3:17-19 interact with the idea of being made in the image of God?
    Read Genesis 2:19-20 and Genesis 3:8-10. What’s different about the way God and Adam inter- act in these two passages? What’s the same?

Consider the Story

  1. How does the biblical narrative describe Adam? What makes him a unique character? What makes him a realistic character?
  2. In what ways do you see similarities between your story and Adam’s story?
  3. From this story, what stands out to you about who God is?

Recount the Story

  1. How are you tempted to take over the storyline God has begun?
  2. What is your greatest temptation/struggle when it comes to trusting God with your storyline?
  3. What would you change about how your life has been written so far?

Practice the Story

Pray together about your temptations and struggles with trusting God as the Master Storyteller. This week make one distinctive choice that goes against what your flesh desires, choosing what God desires instead. Journal about what happens after you made that choice. What events followed?