I feel sorry for Cain.
he leaned over and whispered it to me near the end of the sermon which anyone watching would have assumed he was not listening to at all. In typical fashion, he wiggled and wormed around in his seat doing everything but sitting up and focusing.
Cain was trying, he loud-whispered, he just didn’t know.
Well, I whispered back, Daddy is explaining that he did know, but chose to try to do it differently anyway.
Even as I answer him, I wonder if Ben is really talking about himself instead of Cain. He’d been asking a lot of theological questions lately, and during the Good Friday service, he leaned over and asked me, “What if God’s not even real?”
I let him ask these questions, and I do not berate him for voicing his doubts. These things can’t be forced upon a child like stuffing a shirt over his head. We plant the seeds and water, but they must grow naturally into their understanding.
The work of the Spirit takes longer and goes deeper than the work of man.
The day Ben made the comment about Cain, I, too, was struggling with the story. Cain: his paltry vegetables rejected, Abel: loved and approved. I feel the pain of rejection, cold and sick in the pit of Cain’s stomach. I feel the not-good-enough bitterness seeping acid down his throat as he swallows his pain. I hear Ben asking the question all of us in the faith wrestle with this question at some point: Am I unfaithful Cain or pagan Esau, unloved, rejected, beyond the lighthouse of grace?
It’s not until a week later, in the circle of women whom I’ve come to trust, that I finally work it out. Abel came in faith, Cain came in works.
Nothing in my hand I bring.
By grace through faith, so no man may boast.
Oh Lord, I do believe. Help my unbelief!
Ben has all the knowledge in that marvelous brain of his, but he doesn’t yet trust. His knowledge will provide the scaffold to lead his heart up Jacob’s ladder.
So let it be.