We all believe in Eden. It’s why the Bible still haunts our godless age. Even unbelievers and pagans who have never opened the Book of Genesis hunger for that place where everything works the way our hearts say it should. We continue to bet heavily on marriage, even after so much wreckage from divorce, mindless careerism and social engineering. We refuse to give up on God despite all the grim warnings of best-selling atheists and the hypocrisy we’ve seen in churches.
While the mist was still rising from the oven of creation, the One God called forth the man-creature from earth and water. This one was different from all that had come before him, fashioned in a way that reminded the Maker of Himself. The beauty and abundance of the entire Garden were here for this one, the Apple of the One God’s eye.
The One God gave the creature most like himself a purpose, the role of garden-keeper. As he watched him delight in the interplay of lions and lionesses, bucks and does, rams and ewes, he caused a deep sleep to fall upon this singular, rogue male. And when the man awakened, he saw his own reflection in the eyes of his help-meet; the woman created from his rib and envisioned to live at his side, not at his feet. Together, the man and woman could unleash the generations and set the trajectory for a new world!
Curious minds rush to the next chapter to find what happened! But in our hearts, we are not curious enough. Of course, there is insight and hope to be found in what finally went wrong; the serpent and the apple and the illusion of becoming a god. But there is motivation and comfort to be found in what went right. Before the fall there was God, people who loved him and one another, and a purpose bigger than self. And it was good; it was very good.
Thousands of years later, most of us are still chasing after some new kingdom rather than walking with Christ back to the source of joy. We take for granted daily luxuries which in previous generations were reserved for royalty. We may choose any form of sexual behavior or personal expression imaginable, but we still must escape it all at day’s end with intoxicating drinks and drugs. Half a century beyond the sexual revolution, liberated women are still being pawed and molested by out of control males, and no child is truly safe from predators whose number is legion. The American Dream has never been more attainable but suicide is making a comeback as one of the leading causes of death in the USA!
This is an invitation for the truly curious, the ones of you who truly believe the dream in our hearts was once rooted in the real world. This is an epistle to hungry hearts who insist there must be more than a few bucks and baubles and Netflix with a glass of cheap wine. There is a way back. The Garden should be in your headlights, not your rear-view mirror.
When the Son of God was resurrected, he was found walking in a garden. The first witnesses initially assumed he was a gardener, with all the shock of the weekend and the shadows of this new day. In fact, they were looking at The Gardener, the one assigned to take us back to the lost kingdom. He accompanies people there by invitation… and by faith.
But if you wish to travel with him to that never forgotten place of wonder, you must prepare yourself to be misunderstood. When you insist that following Christ for you is about actually sticking with him on a daily basis, you will seem extreme and misguided. When you live out your purpose like it’s an act of worship rather than mindless drudgery and meaningless pain, you may appear deranged and suspicious. And when God grants you a partner of the opposite sex who completes you, the forces swirling around you will tempt you, buffet you, and seek to tear the two of you apart. But trust Him and do it His way anyway. You will finally be moving in the right direction, towards Home.
The Garden always had a serpent lurking at the edges, whispering that The Maker cannot be trusted. “There is something he must not be telling you.” But in fact, the One who first imagined us is the only one we can trust. He invites us into His Presence, and offers to satisfy us with a purpose that makes us noble, and a love that makes us truly human. There is still a place where the deepest dreams of our hearts are true. That’s why He calls it good: it is very good. 1
Walk with the Son of God. And lift up the Cross!