The Garden. It gets referenced here and there in our Bible studies. We’re not exactly sure what to make of it, how it exactly fits, if we really have to commit to it given the controversies that surround it. But then, we learn the Story of the Gardener, that the first Garden just like the first Adam were merely shadows of better things to come. Though they were just shadows, they were entirely necessary as they provided the plot, setting, and characters for the whole story.
The Gardener, like anyone passionate about their property and enterprise, has a thriving harvest in mind. To get the farm, if you will, from seed to harvest, a lot of work is involved and no genetically modified or mass produced or processed imitation foods taste nearly as scrumptious and full of flavor as the fully ripened, slow grown, real stuff. A microwave dinner doesn’t compare to a slow cooker roast.
But, the serpent effectively cultivated the cynicism, skepticism and extreme arrogance of Adam and Eve and continues with the rest of us who are God’s children, persuading us all that we could farm ourselves independently, be our own Farmer and that to be farmed was a fool’s game. So they ate and discovered they weren’t the blue ribbon fruit and vegetables that moments ago they had come to believe. They’d jumped off the vine (just as I do) before it was time and no brown paper bag on the kitchen counter could ripen them effectively, but it might be useful for hiding themselves.
I also thought, “As for men, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. Eccles. 3:18
The “test” of the fruit tree wasn’t to inform God of something He didn’t know, but like all of God’s redemptive testing, provided the diagnostic feedback for His people to see the truth about who they are and why it is that life is found in no other source but their creator.
“Where are you?” God wasn’t bad at hide n’seek. He was drawing them out from their hiding place and back into His company. His gardening wasn’t completed nor remotely thwarted. This too was part of the process of bringing the shadows to their fullest realities, of bringing the seeds to harvest, of bringing the Seed to ultimate glory. He grafted them back onto Himself, as He would continue to do for generations.
He is such a master gardener. He doesn’t go stomping around His Garden, crushing seedlings, wrecklessly weeding and damaging His crop. He gently removes the rocks, turns the soil, fertilizes and waters. Like Aslan, His song ushers His harvest into existence and breathes life into fatally wounded branches. The fruit of His vine will ripen and flourish, but it can’t skip the tilling and the heat to do so.
I have tangibly felt this thorough Gardening lately. Where are you? He has to ask because I often don’t even realize I’ve jumped off the vine! The gravitational pull behind yet another tree is so familiar its not until He asks that I realize I’m back there again. He asks not because He can’t see me but because I can’t even see that I’m hiding. Those vulnerable moments of peeking out from behind the tree, so suddenly and shamefully aware of my nakedness that I’d never noticed before, also awakens in me a renewed awareness of His life that I hadn’t realized I was missing. As I step out, feeling vulnerable and having no idea what will happen next, He covers me in the soft, warm security of Himself. Yes, even that is a part of my ripening process, that one day a harvest will be reaped because He won’t give up.
Oh that more and more where we don’t even know we are hiding we could hear Him ask, “Where are you?”
Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ? John 4:29
This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.’ Ezek. 37:5-6