I love that the world started in a garden. There is no better place to call paradise. Imagine Adam walking in the cool of the day with his best friend: GOD. Adam says, “Hey Tiger!” and Tiger comes and nuzzles up next to him as he pets his head. Adam continues along admiring the plants, bees buzzing by him without fear. Maybe he and God rearrange some flowers, or even cut a few to give to Eve – but don’t worry, there is no way they would die. Death doesn’t exist here.
Humans live in unity with God, connected to their lifeblood. Their source. They walk together, talk freely, openly, naked in a way we can’t even fathom. There is no shame here, only love.
Fast-forward around two thousand years to another garden. Death is the only reality here. It is such a reality that Jesus is dripping blood from his forehead. He kneels in prayer, feeling more distant from His Father than ever before, and begs, “Take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42) Soon after, one of His closest friends will come and betray Him – twisting the knife of betrayal deep into His back. This Garden is dark and cold like the night sky, lonely and desolate – the opposite of what a true garden is meant to be.
Three days later, another type of garden. This time, a simple girl comes to pour oils on the feet of the dead. An honoring of a life well lived, a mourning of her greatest loss. She’s already experienced deep hurt, but to make everything worse, the body of her beloved Lord is missing.
Out of nowhere, the ‘gardener’ asks, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
“Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him…”
In the Garden, she is reconciled to her Lord. She is reunited with the risen Jesus, in the cool of the day. She experiences the resurrection, both of Jesus and of her own hope. In the Garden, she is known by her true name. She is free.
If in both the brokenness and wholeness of the Gospel Story we find ourselves in a garden, what should be said of our world now? It is a garden also – it is a place where things grow, and die. We plant and tend and reap; we also uproot and bury. We walk the seasons and carry the responsibility of life. Children, friends, animals, patients, clients, students are under our care. What is your garden? To what are you called to tend?
What is your garden? To what are you called to tend?
Sometimes we walk in the dryness, the parched garden unconnected to its Life Source. We try to grow on our own, relying on our own resources and capabilities to grow and flourish. This life can often feel like a failing garden; sometimes even like the Gardener has left us to dry up. He still walks with us though, even in these seasons. He knows what His Garden needs.
Sometimes we live in the Gethsemane garden, questioning God’s plan and experiencing deep brokenness and betrayal. It takes death to get out of this place. It takes a laying down of what’s happened to you; a sacrificing of what was, in order to experience what will be.
Every once in a while we get a glimpse, like seeing through a foggy mirror, of what will be. Of what is meant to be. A garden where things flourish and life is full of glory. We hold to these moments, knowing they are a gift and a glimpse at what we hope for.
And we look forward to a new Garden, where we will spend eternity racing cheetahs and taking tours of the past and never running out of things to learn and admire about our Lord (thanks coworkers, for these Heaven thoughts). A fourth Garden where all will be made fully new – completely sanctified and pure. A return, of sorts, to the original intent.
This is our story; the one where we walk from glory to glory.
The peace and tranquility of the garden, walking with our Lord in the cool of the day.