God’s Thoughts to me
This is Eternal Life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent (John 17:3, NASB).
Then God planted a garden in the east, and there He placed the man He had made (Genesis 2:8, NLT).
The Treasure Hunt
This past week I have been engaged in a severe battle against that all too familiar winter foe, influenza! My mind is fighting against the heaviness and blocked stuffiness that accompany this enemy and, on top of the fibrofog, desperately seeking words to express the thoughts and ideas birthed in my heart. So, I look up to my Pappa God, the always-present one, who never leaves my side and who carries me across all life’s hurdles.
My weary soul sighs joyfully as I feel His Presence touching me tenderly as if to remind me of His love and care and my mind wanders back in time, retracing the footsteps of my life walking with God.
Suddenly, I am accutely aware of my feebleness and incapacity to love and encourage others, to lend them an undivided ear and heart, not only to hear, but to truly listen when they need to share their burdens, without fear that I will just rub salt into their wounds, trying to fix them. I am aware of my dire need to embrace suffering and trials joyfully to allow our Heavenly Father to mold and form my heart into a receptive, inviting and gentle vessel. I need Him to change me into a safe, friendly person whom others would find safe and comfortable to share their ups and downs through life’s journey, with. I, not unlike most people I know, never used to accept suffering willingly or associate trials with a God of Love. I conveniently chose to ignore our Lord’s words, “I have refined you, but not as silver is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering.” (Isaiah 48:10, NLT).
I am so grateful that our Pappa, with gentle yet firm determination, has never given up on me, until He has taught me that without going through the mills of life, I will sound like Paul’s noisy gong and clanging cymbal, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1, NKJV).
To be honest, I have to admit that for a long time during my walk with our Pappa God, I have placed much more value on my performance for Him, as far as religion goes, than loving Him and others, thinking that it would make Him more inclined to love and accept me. I was wrong; very, dangerously wrong. I have come to realize that the world operates according to that principle, but definitely not our Lord, for He says, “Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. “(Romans 12:2, NLT).
This saddens me and fills my heart with an intense longing for the time before that Foul Revolt the author John Milton speaks of in his astounding work, Paradise Lost. The time when life was as our Heavenly Father intended, in all its beauty and simplicity; the time when life was void of all selfishness, greed (and all their evil bedfellows). Life without illness, pain and suffering seems like a long-forgotten dream and I long for that time when Eden was untainted by sin.
Reading the creation account in the Bible again, made me realize that in the past I could see no further than the story of God’s creative power, our first grandparents’ revolt, their fall and subsequent banishment from paradise. But this time around I could sense something different, something more meaningful and I knew, deep, deep down in my heart that an acient treasure was waiting to be discovered.
It felt as if I was going on that proverbial journey to discover that pearl of great price. Delving deeper into this story, I was immediately impressed by the fact that, although our Lord spoke everything else into being, He changed His modus operandi when He FORMED man out of clay and PLANTED the garden. They were special! I was amazed at our Pappa’s attention to even the smallest detail when He planned and planted this perfect garden. Nothing escaped His keen eye and I could almost sense His joy and pleasure as He planted all the big, sturdy trees to provide oxygen, shade and shelter, and all the other things big trees were needed for! I could sense Him limiting Himself and harnessing His great power and strengh when He planted all those thousands of plant species; from the tiniest, fragile, most delicate flower to all the big, strong, robust shrubs and groundcovers, all to provide beauty and grace to His garden.
The name Eden means love; love surpassing it’s meaning in Hebrew of pleasure, luxury, dainty delight.I rejoiced when I realised that the first provision our God blessed our first grandparents with, was a garden filled with His love and goodness; a perfect setting where they could enjoy a growing friendship, a loving relationship, without any laws or rules. This was a living, breathing, growing, loving relationship that did not need any restraints or rules to suffocate its vibrant “aliveness”, for everyone considered the other higher than him or herself. The only thing, remotely law-like, for Adam and Eve, was to be aware of their need to be completely dependent on our Pappa God.
He is fully aware that without His total provision for all their needs; spiritual, psychological and physical, His children are unable to live and to love Him in return. Adam and Eve had only one choice to decide on for themselves, to live in complete dependence on their Creator and to learn to trust His love and goodness, by choosing to eat from the Tree of Life. His desire was that their centre of reference should always be Him, as their only source of goodness and love, and for that matter, of everything else.
We are all familiar with the outcome of our Pappa God’s risk to give the first humans the freedom to choose to love Him and of their disastrous choice to rather eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam and Eve chose to live independently from their Father, with themselves being their own central reference, choosing to determine what was good and what was evil on their own. Their choice ushered the whole creation into darkness, death and separation from God. I have often wondered why He gave them that choice in the first place, knowing full well what foolish choice they would make, until I realized what a great price our God puts on the voluntary love of His children; no rote obedience will do! That was a great, great act of love on His part and, banishing them from the garden, was His provision for the human race to be reconciled to Him again, after our Lord Jesus made that possible through His death and resurrection.
Ever since that catastrophe, the human race has been trying to cover their spiritual nakedness with fig leaves, the work of their hands. These feeble efforts have accumulated through the ages into the devil’s handmaiden, religion. But our Father of love not only provided Adam and Eve with clothes from the hides of animals, but also the new life and righteousness of our Lord Jesus when He paid the price on the cross for man’s revolt. Our Pappa God has reconciled Himself to all mankind through our Lord Jesus’ sacrifice. He is again waiting for each and everyone He has ever and will still create, to come to Him, to experience His love and goodness and to walk with Him, “He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent” (2 Peter 3:9, NLT).
What a joy to realize that, once we return to our Pappa, our Heavenly Gardener immediately starts to plant a new garden of Eden in our hearts by first clearing the ground of all the weeds, stones, thorns and thistles and then gently and lovingly planting seeds that will flower and bloom into a new spiritual garden, producing delicious fruit for His enjoyment as well as ours and all those He chooses to love through us.
Dear ones, life happens and it is truly hard, especialy with a debillitating disease like Fm/CFS. No one, but no one, escapes that reality, yet I want to encourage you to see every new trial, every new suffering, symptom or hiccup in life as God’s loving hand, refining you into the spotless Bride of His Son, our Lord Jesus. Then we will be able to truly rejoice in our suffering.
Thank you for opening the treasure chest with me. With my next post, I would love to show you all the precious gems our Lord has hidden inside Eden for us to find.
Hugs and blessings