Mankind’s Architect created the ideal setting for His Master Work; a tranquil, manicured garden in which He took pleasure strolling and spending leisurely moments with the man and the woman He had placed there. This pair had been designed with a draw to community, to fellowship, to pairing as lifelong, intimate allies, to enjoying productive endeavors, to sharing joy in childrearing. Life for them in their garden was as planned, as per the spec sheets: idyllic, serene, ordered, wholesome – in a word, holy. Every generation since Adam and Eve has been born with an innate knowing how life was meant to be: holy, peace-filled, in open communion with the Creator. However, each successive generation has also been born with compromised spiritual eyesight and an errant, ‘I’ll do it my way’ mindset (set to music and crooned by a guy called Frank). We, today, are many generations distant from the perfection of Eden’s Garden, many generations into destructive devotion to ‘self’ and are now among generations coping with the inherited waywardness of our ancestors. The chaos unleashed in the Garden is rampant on the world stage (as we are forever made aware by live newsfeeds and myriad internet ‘sources’). Physical, mental, and spiritual distress and disease are everywhere evident, even in the church.
Here’s the irony: we each begin life with a fervent longing for the Garden and full, blissful fellowship with our Creator, but, in direct competition with that desire is another longing which presents itself as a vague, foggy sense nagging at us that the Garden is somehow restrictive, joyless, manipulative, demanding, hence, to be rejected at all costs. This latter longing vies for supremacy in our hearts and minds and the ensuing battle can give rise to a world of painful confusion (In 1969, Joni Mitchell penned, and sang, these words: ‘We are … caught in the devil’s bargain and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the Garden.’). The first longing speaks quietly, lovingly, gently wooing us back to our First Love, to our Creator, to the lifestyle of the Garden, and away from the clamorous, soul-deadening barrage of a Creator-avoidant, Creator-denying, culture and world.
Here’s our hope: chaos can be stilled and order restored because Jesus came as the Prince of Peace. He is the God of all hope. In praying to his Father, Jesus asked for his disciples: “… the world has despised them because they are not products of this world, in the same way that I am not a product of the corrupt world order. Do not take them out of this world; protect them from the evil one.” John 17:14,15, VOICE. Hymnwriter Annie Johnson Flint wrote these words: ‘His love has no limit, His grace has no measure, His power has no boundary known unto men, for out of his infinite riches in Jesus, He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again!’ To the church in Philippi, Paul wrote: “… know that the peace of God (a peace that is beyond any and all of our human understanding) will stand watch over your hearts and minds in Jesus, the Anointed One.” Phil. 4:6,7, VOICE. Is our enemy, the devil, on the loose? Yes. Is he powerful? Yes. But we are reminded: “Little children … the One who is living in you is far greater than the one who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4, TPT. Because of these truths we are still standing, still believing, still trusting. And there’s strength in numbers, so I’ll see y’all tomorrow at 10 AM, 4 PM, 6 PM. PD