Excerpted from Compton's Interactive Bible NIV. Copyright (c) 1994, 1995, 1996 SoftKey Multimedia Inc. All Rights Reserved
Do you enjoy gardening? Do you love the feel of the soil under your fingernails? Love to watch a seed grow from sprout to plant to flower or fruit? Not me. Hate it. Hate the bugs, the dirt, the sweat, the weeds, the waiting, the work. And the plants must sense it because as soon as a green plant enters my care, it turns instantly brown. Well, not instantly, but gradual instantly. Case in point. When we arrived at our lovely new Vancouver home, a whole troop of Multnomah faculty and staff joined us the next day to help unload the trucks (yep, not one, but two moving trucks – ugh). Two unfortunate things happened that day. One, Roy was stricken with a case of either food poisoning, flu or aversion to unloading (just kiddin’ Hon) – relegating him to a twin air mattress in the 6’x10’ master bedroom closet with a bucket, while everyone else unloaded all the furniture and boxes into the other rooms of the house. The second unfortunate event occurred when Multnomah’s Academic Dean’s wife showed up with a housewarming gift – the most beautiful potted hydrangea I’d ever seen. Resolving to turn my black thumb to green, I accepted the kind and thoughtful gift with high hopes of horticulture in my future. Within a week, the poor plant had gone from perky pink to dismal gray. I put it in the sun it drooped. I put it in the shade, it sagged. More water. Less water. Finally, a friend came to the rescue and said the poor little plant’s only hope was to be freed from my clutches and released back into the wild. She helped me transplant the pitiful hydrangea into the front flowerbed in the fertile Northwest soil. “A stick grows in this soil,” she said confidently. Well, she was right. Sort of. The hydrangea made it, but it truly looks like three sticks with a few leaves and a couple of fake little puffed flowers on the ends. My thumb remains black, and we can never invite the dean and his wife for dinner because the plant is right by the front door. It’s times like these that I wish I was a master gardener like my God – YHWH, Elohim, the Master Gardener…
Gen. 2:4-7 – “This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created. When [YHWH Elohim] made the earth and the heavens--and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the [YHWH Elohim] had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground, but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground--the [YHWH Elohim] formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”
- Until God’s breath was breathed into man, there was no one to plant and nurture “shrubs” in the fields – fields seemingly distinguished from ground and earth. God’s breath became mankind’s breath. Breathe in deeply right now. No, really, I mean it. Please. Breathe in deeply. Breathe in God’s breath.
Gen. 2:8-15 – “Now [YHWH Elohim] had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. And [YHWH Elohim] made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground--trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. (The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin and onyx are also there.) The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush. The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Asshur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates. [YHWH Elohim] took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”
- God made a place for mankind to nurture and watch the green plants grow just as God would nurture and watch His Creation grow. God and mankind shared not only the same breath but now also a partnership of purpose in nurturing Creation. Every detail of Creation was to bind mankind to God in relationship.
Gen. 2:16-17 – “And [YHWH Elohim] commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.’”
- What is a garden without roses? And what is a rose without thorns? God created mankind in His image, breathed into them His breath, shared with them His same purpose. Now, God bestows the ultimate transference of His likeness. He offers mankind the ability and opportunity to choose. The Master Gardener released mankind to tend God’s greatest work – mankind itself.
Lord, the beauty of Your Creation astounds me. The complexity of the human body is beyond comprehension. And the truth that You shared Your breath and Your purpose with us touches the deepest parts of my heart. But, Father, sometimes I wish I didn’t have to choose. Sometimes I think it would be easier if You could just make the choice for me. Then everyone could worship forever around Your Throne. But it would be empty, wouldn’t it, Lord? Empty compared to the worship of those who have chosen through pain and adversity and faith to worship a God we do not fully understand and yet we love with all our hearts, souls, minds and strength. I can choose You, Father…and I do.