Herding Cats

Genesis 1:28 “Fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

Observation: We witness here the sixth day of creation, the day when God commanded the land to “produce living creatures…livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals…” (v 24) This was the same day they (God) made “man in our image, in our likeness” (v 26) and said “let them rule” over every created thing.

Application: “Subdue” and “rule” over every living thing…this command was within the first sentence Adam and Eve, as a couple, heard from God. What thoughts might have gone through their minds in that moment? They had just appeared on the scene having been formed by God’s own Word, plunked down in a shiny new creation only six days in the making. Surrounded by lumbering T-Rexes and scampering field mice, by soaring pterodactyls and mollusks at sea depths Adam had no hope of visiting, the first command to fall upon newly-formed ears was to subdue and rule.

How? With what tools? One man, one woman…both stark naked…commanded to subdue and rule. My conundrum is this: when I think of subduing and ruling it is through the lens of fallenness. I think of Adam running through the landscape on feet not yet calloused, trying to herd cats into a pen or Eve mesmerizing snakes with yet-uninvented flutes. Or perhaps they would set traps to sell the world’s first pelts to Nordstrom’s fur-buyers. See what sin has worked in my understanding?

But isn’t there another kind of dominion? I am putty in the face of my two-year-old grandson’s heart-melting smile as I enter the room. In that moment he has captured me afresh. I find myself disarmed and stripped of all resistance as he snuggles into my embrace. He knows well how to subdue and rule; his trap of intimacy is perfectly natural. Love, indeed, conquers all.

God adds to my understanding of what He has in mind when He says to His beloved, “I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride…” (Song 5:1) His heart is fully captivated by passion’s gaze…”you are beautiful, my darling…your eyes overwhelm me…my dove, my perfect one…” (Song 6:4-9) It is the language of love that subdues; it is His delight in me that gives Him rule over my heart.

Prayer: Now I see it, Lord; now I understand how Adam could rule over every living thing. It isn’t by weapons or threats that You have won my heart, but by longing. My desire is for You above all others. Break me more, Lord, pierce me more deeply. Let me see Your beauty so I can enjoy Your presence forever.

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