1. The Duracell Tree

Posted Dec 31, 2017 in Identity Wars Hits: 1,062

The room was dimly lit. On one of the walls there were a number of posters, a picture of a pop musician and another of a sportsman that had often served as windows into a longed-for reality. Along another wall there was a desk with a few school books on it, but the central feature of this desk was the small yet powerful stereo system. Indeed this was the room of a teenager which showed all the signs of ambition, turbulence and yes, dreaming.

An immense battle was raging in my heart, a battle of destiny, a moment of truth. “I never thought I would do something like that,” I muttered as I stared at the floor. My self-concept was being severely tested. So intense was the battle that I sought comfort from the posters which had helped me so many times before to divert my mind from the harvest I was now reaping.

The air was filled with a sense of desperation. My mind was grasping for tokens that would stabilise my disturbed state: academic, athletic, articulate were some of the tokens I grasped for, but they now seemed powerless to help me. A sickening cloud descended upon me and started to squeeze out my sense of ambition. It kicked open the prized places of the heart and stole its treasure, and then it made for the most sacred chamber of all – hope.

I had spoken to my mother in a way I promised myself I never would. This was the final straw that made me realise that I was not the person I wanted to be. I did not like myself, and I wanted to change, but it seemed hopeless.

*   *    *

Depression. Depression is the single greatest curse afflicting our society today. In her opening address, the World Health Organisation’s Director General, Dr Gro Harlem stated:

…initial estimates suggest that about 450 million people alive today suffer from mental or neurological disorders…. Major depression is now the leading cause of disability globally.[1]

Try to grasp the enormity of this problem in the following statistics from 1998/1999:

•     1 million suicides every year.

•      10 to 20 million attempts every year or up to 38 attempts every minute.

•      Suicide in the US for males between the ages of 35-49 is the number three cause of death.[2]

•     Australia’s youth suicide rate was the highest in the world in1997.[3]

What on earth is going on? What is so depressing about life that millions of people are choosing to die rather than face another day?

In his book The Mind Game, Phillip Day gives this very revealing statement:

In times gone by, caring family members gathered around and gave the depressed relative the assurance and attention to talk things through. … Today, with the fracturing of the family unit, the denigration of religion, and the separation of many families from each other with the hectic pace of 21st century life, psychoanalysis has simply taken over the task of counselling that used to be carried out by caring relatives or the neighbourhood minister. I strongly believe that this has had a deleterious effect on our society.[4]

Phillip Day lists three factors: (1) The fracturing of the family unit; (2) The denigration of religion; (3) The separation of many families from each other with the hectic pace of 21st century life. The pivotal factor is the fracturing of the family unit. David Van Biema commenting on this subject said the following:

A generation unlike any other has come of age, one in which millions have been marked by a profound and early sorrow. They are the children of divorce. They are just the front rank of a seemingly endless phalanx.[5]

Jim Conway in his book Adult Children of Legal and Emotional Divorce describes in vivid detail the pain and loss suffered by thousands who have suffered the effects of a fractured family either legally or emotionally. One of the key attributes he describes is insecurity and the constant questions of “Who am I?” and “Am I worth being loved?”[6]

These questions drive to the very source of the human dilemma – a sense of significance. Does anyone really care about me? Am I worth anything? How did these questions come to embed themselves in the human psyche? To answer that question we need to go back to the beginning.

Suddenly Eve found herself staring at the forbidden tree. “Why has God forbidden us to eat from this tree?” she wondered. The fruit looked so inviting, beckoning her forward. Suddenly she heard a voice coming from the tree. Satan, seeing his opportunity, tempts her through the medium of a serpent; “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”[7] Satan is both enticing Eve to debate and placing doubt in her mind about the literalness of God’s Word. In the realm of debate and logic, Eve is no match for Satan. Add to this the unfamiliar weapons of deceit and darkness, and the contest will be devastatingly short should Eve signal her willingness to engage the contest by opening her mouth.

“We may eat of the fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”[8] Eve accepts the challenge by repeating the words that God had spoken, but she is now deeply in trouble. Her own curiosity, combined with the opening challenge of Satan, left her unprepared for his following jaw dropping statement, “You will not surely die.”[9]

Have you ever been in a conversation with someone in the context of “friendly” debate and you’re feeling relatively in control of the situation until your opponent drops something on you from “left field”? Something you had never anticipated, something that throws a spanner into those finely oiled cogs whirring around in your mind and grinds them to a halt? Not that what they said was anything deeply profound or enlightening, but you never expected it to come from them. The possibility of their uttering such words so boldly and so blatantly had never occurred to you.

Satan, seeing that he has immobilised his prey now with devastating precision drives home his winning blow. “…For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”[10]

These few verses can be like passing through a small country town, blink and you’ll miss them. The concept that Satan introduced to Eve contained the seed of the curse that now plagues all of the children of Adam – the struggle for significance. A concept that sounds so liberating provides the very substance of the chains that enslave the human soul in misery and darkness. Sound like a bit of a stretch? Stay with me as we unpack this concept “You shall not surely die,” and look at its fruit and its role in reaping the nagging questions, “Does anyone care about me?” and “Am I worth being loved?”

I remember when I was about eight years of age, my sister had received a doll that would cry and laugh and even drink milk. All you had to do was place a couple of batteries in its back and away it went. It provided hours of entertainment for my sister. I wanted to feed it to the dog because the crying became really annoying after a while but thought better of it because I didn’t want to hear my sister cry for an hour. This baby had life by simply putting two batteries in its back, and this is precisely the idea that Satan was trying to get across to Eve. Eve, you don’t need to worry about what anyone else says, you have life in yourself. You can do as you please and you will suffer no harm because you have life in yourself. You will not surely die, and as long as you come back here to this tree to recharge your batteries you will be fine.

Could you imagine an 18 month old baby saying to its parents, “I think I can make it on my own now, I was just talking to the garden gnome in the backyard and he says that I have power inside of me that will keep me alive and provide all my needs, so thanks for all your help, and maybe we’ll catch up some day.” This is exactly what happened to Adam and Eve in the garden. This concept you shall not surely die had snapped their sense of total dependence on their heavenly Father. It attacked the very foundations of who they were as individuals. It confused their sense of identity and consequently their value as God’s children. Why couldn’t Adam and Eve simply realise their mistake and return to a position of total dependence on their heavenly Father? I wish it were that simple, but the consequences of embracing the concept that you shall not surely die because you have power in yourself, even for a second, has the instantaneous effect of preventing you from ever returning to that blissful state. We will talk more about this later on, but first, let’s go back to that fateful tree.

Notice Satan’s suggestion that when they ate this fruit, somehow their eyes would be opened to a higher state of existence. The inference here is not only that you have power within yourself, but that the material universe contains powerful objects, that once you possess, can make you even more powerful. Welcome to the material world. In Genesis 3:4,5

Satan is in full scale evangelistic mode to win converts to his new utopian kingdom. He offered a kingdom that promised power and satisfaction to all that would embrace it. This kingdom is based on two core principles:

1.   You have life in yourself making you totally independent of any external benefactor or authority.

2.  Our environment contains people, objects and things that if possessed or associated with, can make us more powerful, more enlightened and more fulfilled in life.

Through this tree of knowledge, Satan was offering a battery powered existence, a life without the need for any external benefactor or authority, hence the title of this chapter – The Duracell Tree. Satan would tell us that the cells of our bodies will remain ever durable if we follow his philosophy on life.

It is important to remember that when Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the tree, there was no inherent poison in it that made them afraid, sinful and rebellious. The Bible tells us that the fruit was good for food.[11] The poison was the words that Satan spoke to Eve. The poison is the principles of his kingdom. Some people raise the question, “Why do I have to suffer when Adam and Eve ate the fruit? I didn’t eat from that tree.” The truth is that every time we act independently of God, we eat of that tree in exactly the same way that Adam and Eve did because we have swallowed the poison of Satan’s kingdom. In fact, we will learn that we actually eat from this tree every day and we are suffering horrible indigestion as a result.

The idea that we could live apart from God may not seem that strange to many people, but in the next chapter we will learn that this type of thinking is suicidal.

[1] Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, The WHO World Health Report 2001, page x

[2] Phillip Day, The Mind Game (Credence Publications 2002) In Introduction

[3] Suicide in Australia - a dying shame. 2001. http://www.wesleymission.org.au

[4] Phillip Day, Introduction - http://www.campaignfortruth.com/Eclub/100702/depressionandsuicide.htm

[5] David Van Biema, “Learning to Live with a Past that Failed,” People, May 29, 1989, p 79.

[6] Jim Conway, Adult Children of Legal or Emotional Divorce, (Monarch Publications, 1990) p. 53.

[7] Genesis 3:1

[8] Genesis 3:2,3

[9] Genesis 3:4

[10] Genesis 3:5

[11] Genesis 3:6