Editor’s Note: This post is based on an excerpt from the book Life in the Wild by Dan DeWitt.

Therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life. (Gen. 3:23–24)

Can you imagine what Adam must have felt the day after he and Eve were kicked out of the garden? Perhaps he prayed over and over again that it was all just a dream, and that he would wake up in Eden.

If it was a dream, it was surely a nightmare. But it was a true nightmare. Images of a rushed exit, an angel, a flaming sword, footsteps in the garden that made his heart tremble, accusations hurled from husband to wife, from wife to serpent, were all burned into his brain in a way that time would never erase.

The poet John Milton captured this scene in the title of his most famous poem: Paradise Lost. Adam lost paradise. He lost everything. And not just for himself, but for his beautiful bride, his future children, his grandchildren, and for you and me.

Outside the garden would have been undeveloped—wild. Before the rebellion, God had commanded Adam to extend the garden outward, to “fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen. 1:28). Now, instead of being on the inside spreading the garden out, he and his bride stood on the outside, where wildness prevailed, with no way of getting back in.

Instead of living in the center and extending God’s rule, they were exiles living on the margins. Adam and Eve were now outsiders. They would have to find a way to survive—and maybe, just maybe, to even flourish, outside of paradise. But was that even thinkable? Life is suffering. What could Adam do about it?

The Stories We Discover Ourselves In

It’s easier to read a story than live one. I was reminded of this recently when watching a documentary about the terrorist plane attacks of 9/11.

College students at the school where I teach were only toddlers when the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history took place. It could be easy for them to watch programs about it with a sort of detached curiosity. Not me. I vividly remember where I was the moment I learned of the attacks. I was driving my old Volvo station wagon up River Road in Louisville, Ky., headed to seminary chapel after an early morning fishing trip.

On that particular day I noticed the lack of airplane traffic over the city. With a busy commercial airport and the UPS international hub downtown, I was used to seeing planes coming and going. But not that day.

I was listening to the radio when a reporter interrupted the program and with a tense voice announced that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center.

The rest of the day was surreal. Chapel was canceled. We were all encouraged to spend time with our families and pray. To my surprise, the documentary made me relive the nausea and disbelief of that day. I felt sick to my stomach. Those who weren’t born yet, or weren’t old enough to understand, likely watch reports of 9/11 with more objectivity than subjectivity. They see the events as something that happened to others, but they don’t feel themselves in the story.

I fear the same is true for many of us with the story of God and the great human rebellion, what theologians call “the fall.” We can read it from a distance without ever having to consider how it affects us. But the reality is that it does affect us—more than we care to realize.

Jesus came to obey God’s words, protect His bride—the church—and defeat the serpent. And through Him we can be reconciled to our Creator.

This isn’t just Adam and Eve’s story. It’s your story—and my story—too.

Every bad thing we experience flows from the fact that our ancestors rebelled against God. And we discover ourselves in this great rebellion, all of us taking up various roles in this dark play from the very moment of our births. Scripture says we were born in sin (Rom. 5:12). We were born in Adam’s rebellion.

How Being Disconnected from God Affects Us

We are separated from our Creator. This is the source of all forms of death, physical and spiritual. Like a lamp when just unplugged, our light may flicker momentarily, but it will refuse to shine. We are disconnected from the source of all energy, the Creator of life.

But what exactly does it mean to be disconnected from God? The New Testament authors use a short word to describe this condition: death. That’s a powerful word. Five letters that, when put together, take on the form of our greatest enemy. We are physically dying and spiritually dead from the day we are born.

We might look fine on the outside, but on the inside something is wrong. We know it. And one day our bodies will catch up with the sad state of our souls.

We all know this is true. Experience exposes our inner decay. We don’t do the things we know we should do. We do the things we know we shouldn’t do. We have a really hard time living consistently with the purposes we pursue. It’s in these moments that we feel the sting of death on the inside.

If I may, let me ask you a personal question. How long have you been working on you? You might respond with a smirk, “My whole life!” You know that’s right. Now, let me ask you another question: How’s that working out for you?

You see, you probably know deep down that you can’t fix you. The Bible says the problem is even deeper than that. No one else can fix you either. Humanly speaking, that is. You are disconnected from the Maker of all things—and He is the only One who can make you right again.

But it’s not a quick one-time fix. And to be brutally honest, it will kill you. But the “you” that will die in this process is not the person you were meant to be. It’s the rebel who resists God’s ways to your own harm.

You will discover that something lovely will emerge in the death of the old you. Not perfect, in any earthly sense, but something that’s in the process of being restored and one day will be fully returned to its original purpose.

At times it may even feel as if the cure is worse than the disease. But it will only feel this way temporarily. The Apostle Paul says this:

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (Rom. 8:18)

Paul is saying that the glory we will experience when Christ returns will far outweigh any suffering we face now. You may want to dismiss this as mere spiritual sentimentality, just religious rhetoric. But here’s what’s harder to dismiss: You’ve tried pretty hard to help yourself, and it really hasn’t worked yet. You have a sinking suspicion that it never will.

That’s because when Adam and Eve rebelled against God, they broke off the most important relationship, not just for them, but also for the entire human race. The Bible scholar James P. Boyce describes three implications of this separation from God: (1) we are alienated from God; (2) we’ve lost God’s favor; and (3) we’ve lost our acceptance with Him.

We’ve been rejected in the most fundamental way possible. We were rejected in the worst, most fundamental, unimaginable, unthinkable, soul-shattering way possible. We have been rejected by our Creator. That’s why our souls are plastered in scar tissue. Every earthly rejection reminds us that something deep within us is messed up in a way we cannot fix. And we have the sinking sense that it can never be fully fixed in this lifetime. The truth is, it can’t. We will always wince at the thought of rejection as long as we breathe air on this pale blue dot.

It all goes back to Adam and his rebellion that we willingly find ourselves in. What Adam should have done is obey God’s words, protect his bride, and defeat the serpent. That’s what he should have done. But he didn’t.

However, the rest of the Bible is about how the Creator would enter time and space to make things right. Jesus came to obey God’s words, protect His bride—the church—and defeat the serpent. And through Him we can be reconciled to our Creator. Jesus will lead us back to the garden, a new and better garden. That’s the story of the Bible.

Book Review: 12 Rules for Life by...

Preaching, Seeker-Driven Churches, and Unbelief