In the Valley of Tears, God lets us put our fingers into the flames so we learn for ourselves that the fire is hot. There is no higher or better persuasion about the truth than first-hand experience with the truth. Whoever puts his fingers in the flames comes to the conclusion that the fire is hot. The conclusion is ineluctable.

The pedagogy of the Valley of Tears is effective but cruel - brutally cruel.

The rod is not spared on the children of Adam and Eve in the Valley of Tears. Spare the rod and spoil the children .

Can we infer from the cruelty of the Valley of Tears that God is cruel? Yes, such an inference is legitimate - we can infer that God is a sadist - but only if the cruelty has no purpose and God failed to provide us with the means to mitigate it.

"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" .

Stewing in the Hostile Truth Defangs the Serpent

The serpent testified we become gods without God in the Valley of Tears . God testified that, without God, we perish . Our first hand experience with the hostile truth of the Valley of Tears defangs the serpent. It drains the serpent's illusion of its power to deceive. The hostile truth is the sledgehammer that shatters the illusion conjured up by the serpent that sugarcoated the Valley of Tears. It shatters the illusion as a hammer shatters glass. We learn from the hostile truth that, contrary to the testimony of the serpent, we do not become gods without God in the Valley of Tears . Without God, we perish .

Stewing in the Sour Truth Establishes the Credibilty of God and the Serpent

The serpent testified that we become gods without God in the Valley of Tears . God testified that without God we die . The Valley of Tears is autodidactic. We learn from the hostile truth of the Valley of Tears that we do not become gods without God. Hence, our experience in the Valley of Tears raises the credibility of God and lowers the credibility of the serpent. By stewing in the Valley of Tears like pickles in a barrel of toxic brine, we learn the hard way that the serpent is a bullshit artist and that God saith sooth.

Is the problem that God needed to solve the problem of us getting the gift of paradise or us keeping it? Lucifer, the gaggle of angels who followed Lucifer, Eve, Adam and the prodigal son all got the gift of paradise. But none of them kept it. Ergo, ...

The prodigal son is never going to return to the pig sty. Neither will we.

Stewing in the Sour Truth Reduces the Risk to Near Zero that We Would Let the Gift of Paradise Slip Through Our Fingers After It is Delivered to Us

Even though we abandoned him in Eden, God did not abandon us in the Valley of Tears. God is actively executing his plan to rescue us at this very moment. God plans to deliver the gift of paradise to us just as God delivered the gift of paradise to Adam and Eve. God is the gift giver. His nature is to give his creatures gifts. God will not be less generous with us than God was with them. Adam and Eve were the first beneficiaries of God’s love for us. They were not the last. God’s philanthropy did not end with Adam and Eve; God’s philanthropy began with them. This is good news of great joy - very good news for us indeed . However, God does not want us just to receive the gift of paradise. God wants us to keep it as well. Moroever, God wants us to keep the gift of paradise without turning paradise into a prison, God into our warden and us into his prisoners. A cage is still a cage no matter how gilded. Baptizing us in the sour truth of the Valley of Tears before delivering the gift of paradise to us ensures that we keep it. Will we let the gift of paradise slip through our fingers? Will we fumble the ball as Lucifer did, as the gaggle of angels who follow Lucifer did, as Adam did, as Eve did, and as the prodigal son did? They were given the gift of life and the gift of paradise simultaneously. With us, God inserts a delay between the gift of life and the gift of paradise. During the delay we stew in the sour truth of the Valley of Tears like pickles in a barrel of toxic brine. Stewing reduces the likelihood of fumbling the ball to near zero, don't you think? Will the prodigal son ever return to the pig sty? Will we? The sour truth is harsh but effective medicine. It cures us of our "butterfingers", a condition otherwise known as original sin.

The Fork in the Road

When we are baptized in the evil of the Valley of Tears, a fork in the road is created for us. We can take the high road and cling to love, hold tight and not let go. We can fill our hearts to the brim with love. In this way, we maintain our resemblance to God. The greater the love we hold in our hearts, the greater is our resemblance to God. "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" . Love deifies us. Or we can take the low road and release our grip on love. We can let evil transmogrify us into the most miserable and hideous of loveless beast. God is interested in which fork in the road we take - the road of the beast or the road of God. He delights when his creatures take the high road and is disappointed when they go low. He is disppointed because he knows that love is the "grease" for the wheels of our passage through the Valley of Tears. Without the "grease", the friction of our passage through the Valley of Tears becomes too much to bear. Jesus took the high road. Jesus hung from his Cross to teach us how to hang from our crosses. Jesus gave us the pedagogy of the Cross to mitigate the cruelty of the pedagogy of the Valley of Tears. When you hang as Jesus hung, cling as Jesus clung, love as Jesus loved. Hold tight and refuse to let go of love, sufferings invincible foe. The Son of God demonstrated for us that the technology of applying love to suffering works by using it himself. He donned the jet pack and flew to show us that we, too, can fly. What a crazy daredevil this Jesus was! Jesus did not just issue a declaration of his identity - that he is the love note sent from God to us. Jesus produced a demonstration of God. Jesus demonstrated his identity as God's love note from the platform of the Cross. We tortured and killed him. He suffered and died. But he did not stay dead and he did not stop loving us. He emerged from the dead still alive and still in love with us. He and his love for us survived the evil we did to him. So, who are you? What will your baptism in the evil of the Valley of Tears tell you about yourself? What fork in the road will you take? In the Valley of Tears, you will be given opportunities to reveal yourself. Give ear to the Gospel of Rationality. For your own sake, pick the high road. It is contrary to your self-interest to do otherwise. It is crazy to do otherwise. It is self-destructive to do otherwise.

The love note that God sent from heaven to earth was not verified by the issuance of a declaration about God. It was verified by the production of a demonstration of God. The demonstration of God consisted of a violent collision between Jesus and the evil we did to him. Incandescent truths erupted from the violent collision to illuminate the darkness of our understanding of God in a glorious birth of epiphany.

Stewing in the Sour Truth Gives Us The Opportunity To Rise To The Challenge of the Cross and Conquer It

Our crosses present a challenge to us. They present us with two (2) options:

Option #1: Surrender

Our crosses can crush us under their unbearable weight. They can squeeze out the love we hold in our hearts as paste is squeezed out of a tube. They can transmogrify us into the most miserable and hideous of loveless beasts.

Option #2: Resistance

We can resist. We can deny ourselves. We can fight against our natural, reflexive tendency to release our grip on love when our crosses nail themselves to us. Instead, we can pick them up and carry them .

The choice is ours.

We are born in the image and likeness of God . God endowed us with the capacity to love. The greater the love that we hold in our hearts, the greater is our resemblance to God. God wants us to fill our hearts to the brim with love . When we fill our hearts to the brim with love, we become a high fidelity representation of the reality of God . Love gives us strength. Love transforms us into superman. Only creatures who love can pick up and carry their crosses . "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" .

Success in the challenge of the Cross takes place when we refuse to let evil transmogrify us into the most miserable and hideous of loveless beasts. Success happens when we cling to love, hold tight and refuse to let go. Failure happens when we become the loveless beast, miserable and hideous.

God is not interested in transforming us into creatures who follow a book of rules . He is not interested in transforming us into creatures who are obedient. He is not interested in transforming us into a flock of docile sheep . God isn't such a small thinker. He has a higher goal and a bigger plan for us. He is only interested in transforming us into creatures who love - like himself .

God presents us with his challenge to pick up and carry our crosses as we pass through the valley of tears in the hope that we will transform ourselves into creatures who love.

No challenge; no transformation.

Jesus hung from his Cross to teach us how to hang from our crosses. When you hang as Jesus hung, cling as Jesus clung, love as Jesus loved. Hold tight and refuse to let go of love, sufferings invincible foe. The Son of God demonstrated for us that the technology of applying love to suffering works by using it himself. He donned the jet pack and flew to show us that we, too, can fly. What a crazy daredevil this Jesus was! The technology of applying love to suffering is the "grease" for the wheels of our passage through the Valley of Tears.