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Longing for the Garden

August 23, 2016

“And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.”

The Garden of Eden was perfect. People walked freely with their creator. His will was our will, by default. He chose us, and we chose him. Nothing separated us.

No sin.
No guilt.
No shame.

But that’s not the reality in which we now live. Pain is alive and well. Shame fights to permeate our very souls.

Something isn’t right.

I hate that character is only built during trials. I mean, really despise it. Years ago, during an intense season of counseling, contemplation, and healing, my counselor told me I had a “deep longing for the garden.” Sin, fear, pain… it doesn’t feel right. My soul is unsettled, because I know things aren’t the way they should be.

Injustice, in all its forms, is so debilitating to me. I’m an emotional guy. I feel deeply, in my soul. My very foundation is immensely affected by the pain brought about by the fall of creation. Relational pain, institutional injustice – it all points back to the ever-present sense that things are not right.

The trick is to learn how to keep it from paralyzing me. That’s where God comes in. It’s so hard to trust he’s there in the midst of my pain.

“Count it all joy, my brothers and sister, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
– James 1:2-4

“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. ”
– James 1:12

know that perseverance is the key to building character, but I don’t feel like it does. I’m afraid. I feel like I’m wavering, questioning everything. Waves of despair accompany a steady undercurrent of fear and unsettledness.

One of my favorite phrases in all of scripture is in Job 38 – “Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind…” He’s right there with him, and when Job despairs, God gives him a reality check. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, i you have understanding. Who determined its measurements – surely you know!

But God is not absent in that. The temptation is to believe he is only present in the resolution of conflict. But he is with me in the midst of it. He embraces it. He never leaves. He never abandons. Everyone else in my life will fail me. Of that I am certain. But he remains in the whirlwind.

“I would have given into despair if I had not believed I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” I have that tattooed on my arm. I literally cannot run away from it. May I live in the light of that truth, no matter the circumstance.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Beth permalink
    August 23, 2016 1:36 pm

    Beautifully written. I love your transparency even in the midst of uncertainty. A good lesson for us all.

  2. leebaileyseiler permalink
    August 23, 2016 11:17 pm

    Awesome post today Clayton. The timing is right for me with this. My family is in the midst of one of those huge life shifts right now where we have to stand by powerless as we see our parents wither away and slowly (but too suddenly) leave this world. I have been blessed to reflect on the sum of 3 amazing lives; my 94 year old mother, my 90 year old dad, and my 88 year old mother-in-law who went to heaven last Friday. You used the term “steadfast” and it is one that I apply to our three folks. When I look back at their lives as an observer I see steadfastness, or perseverance. But if we asked them I’m sure they would only see the same unsure struggles and moments of pain (real or imagined) that we see, just everyday plodding through, in the absence of any foresight and through lapses of faith. I think it is the sum of the faithful plodding through struggle which wins the day for us and grows that garden of character that makes God smile.

    • thebassoflife permalink*
      August 24, 2016 3:44 pm

      My prayers are with you and your family, Lee. Thank you for sharing.

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