Saturday, June 15, 2013

Invitation to a Garden Party

Most women have heard the story of how we got here.

God put Adam to sleep to take a rib from his side in order to build woman. The Hebrew word refers to carefully designing and erecting a 'temple', as opposed to Adam’s forming, which is characterized as “squeezing into a mold or pressing.”

My husband started out in the construction industry as an industrial carpenter. Call him if you want something functional and sturdy. If you want delicate, decorative work in residential dwellings, you need a trim or finishing carpenter. That’s a good way to remember the difference in how God made Adam and Eve.

But I want you to notice what happened after Eve was made: Genesis 2:22 tells us that God brought her to man.

Wait. Haven’t we assumed God made her there…in Adam’s presence? Yet this verse implies that God took the rib away from man in order to craft His glorious creation—alone.

Just think. When Eve opened her eyes, she beheld God, not Adam. The Scriptures do not tell us how long they were together, but at some point God finally released her to man.

We know the rest of this story. Adam and Eve took God and His beautiful garden for granted.

They began to doubt His integrity. They questioned His goodness. They died first in a way more horrible than the physical death that followed. They rejected God's care, and all members of the human family were subsequently born under that oppressive estrangement.

Sin has left many Eves battered and bruised outside the Garden gates. They lived in fear of the flaming sword, and over time forgot about the overwhelming love that almost took their first breath away. Eves resigned to the decree that any life within them…anything they tried to bring forth…would be wrapped in pain.

The consequences of Adam’s rule over an independent-minded Eve became devastating, as selfishness, distrust, and cruelty compounded through the ages in their sons and daughters. Some Eves fought back, becoming as ruthless as their oppressors. Others took ill treatment in silence and withered within. All Adams and Eves, made in their Creator’s image and likeness, were hopelessly marred.

That is, until Jesus Christ came to set the captives free. We all know that, don’t we?  You’ve heard it—and want to really believe it--but you’re afraid to go back to where it all started to see for yourself.

Maybe it’s too good to be really true.

Maybe for others, but not for me.  It’s been too long; it’s been too bad.

Eve, your Creator is jealous for you! He wants to see you again…with no earthly man in between. He wants to hold you as before. As He does, the vision that has been clouded by earthly disappointments and pain will clear. Your labored breath will take in the sweet and exhale the bitter in the safety of His cleansing love.

You might ask, “How do I get there?”

There was a real garden on earth in the beginning, that’s true. And God came in the cool (or literal Hebrew—‘wind’) of each day to walk and fellowship with Adam and Eve. When they rejected His best for them, they forfeited their ability to intimately fellowship with the Father.

However, in an astonishing display of love, Jesus Christ “took our place”, so to speak, in life AND death. As our representative, He obeyed God in the way He lived on earth, and in how He willingly died to remove the penalty of our estrangement. He restored the possibility for all of us to have a continuous and joyful relationship with God as our true Father.

Now we don’t have to travel to a literal garden in some exotic location to be healed in God’s presence. Our spirits, the part of us that is eternal and now alive unto God because of our faith in Christ, have become God’s Garden!

That means that no matter where you are, no matter what you’re going through, there remains a secret place known only to you and God--you know, the spot where you were created--the glorious place where you first met and spent time with Him before being taken to Adam. It is located deep within--past your mind and emotions. It is a place where God is pleased to dwell.

By faith, you can go as often as you like and stay for as long as you want. Worship in the wind of His Presence, dance in the glory of His absolute love and total acceptance of you, His Beloved. Become well in your soul as He rejoices over you with singing.

This Father’s Day, God invites you to a Garden Party. Just the two of you--the way it once was--in the beginning before you knew any shame or guilt…when nothing had yet to harm you.

He says, “Just come as you are. Don’t feel as if you have to bring a peace offering—no explanations, no promises. Your willingness to come delights Me. YOU are My gift,” declares the Father.

Ready to go? Here are a few things you can do to prepare for the journey. First, read this Scripture. Does it describe how you feel now?

“A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.” (Song of Songs 4:12)

There may be a man-made cap over your once sparkling fountain of living waters. You may have erected walls around your spirit to keep out intruders, not realizing it has also kept out the good you’ve so desperately needed.

Don’t be afraid; ask the wind of the Holy Spirit to come and awaken life within the Garden, just as the Shulamite woman did in the Song of Songs (4:16):

Awake, O North wind; and come, thou South; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my Beloved come into HIS garden, and eat His pleasant fruits.”

The winds will carry the pleasing scents to your Lord, signaling Him that you are on your way home.

“I am come into MY garden, my sister, my spouse: I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk: eat, O friends, drink, yea, drink abundantly, O Beloved.” (Songs of Songs 5:1)

Did you know all these beautiful things have been deep inside of you all along?

-used to anoint bodies at burial; typifies the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ for you.

He suffered and died in your place. He was wounded for your transgressions; He carried your griefs and sorrows. He was despised and rejected, too, and is able to lift you out of your distresses and heal your broken heart.

-are used to flavor food in a variety of ways. Women often lower their expectations due to past hurts. They find a safe, predictable rut and exist there—day in and day out. Your Beloved, however, has a future and a hope for you that is exceeding, abundantly above anything that you could ask or think. (Ephesians 3:20)

is one of nature’s most powerful antibiotics; it will repel invaders that seek to compromise your wellness.

Honeycomb-sweeter than honey; this is the Word of God (Psalm 19:10).
Its sweetness will counteract the bitter and sour events in your life.

has antiseptic and anesthetizing properties; indicative of the intoxicating joy of the Lord and the presence of the Holy Spirit

A surrendered life to the Holy Spirit helps you keep an uncluttered heart. You are able to walk more readily in faith, hope, and love.

nourishes and strengthens; it, too, is a type of the Word of God (1 Corinthians 3:2). It is also a symbol of blessings.

Did you also notice there are friends in your Garden?

When you are whole in Him--when you totally live, move, and have your being in Him--you won’t be afraid to open up and welcome your sisters (and even your brothers) in the Lord to join you in worship and fellowship.

This doesn’t remove the risk of ever being hurt again, but He is your Mighty Shield. Most of the time, the fiery darts of the enemy will be quenched upon impact. (Ephesians 6:16)

In other situations, you may let your guard down or be overwhelmed. Even then, you can quickly run to your Father in the Garden and give him the damage. You’ll be surprised at what He can do with it! You’ll get it back triumphantly transformed--full of forgiveness, peace, and even the word of reconciliation.

So, what are you waiting for? The gates are open wide to welcome you home.

Oh, I almost forgot! God wants you to know the gates look very different this time, Eve. There’s no impassable angel guarding them with a sword. You'll only see the word GRACE written over the Blood of the Lamb.