As the world loosens-up from the corona virus lock down (some states quickly and others more slowly), my thoughts return to the Garden of Eden. Maybe it’s an escape of sorts, but I think God is using this season of angst to take us back to our roots.
I know most of us view the Covid-19 pandemic more as an attack from hell than a return to paradise. But, bear with me for a moment. Tough times tend to bring us back to the basics.
A couple of them stand out in the ancient world of Adam and Eve. Our ancestors enjoyed two primary activities in the birthplace of humanity:
Walks and work.
We would be wise to revive them.
Back to Eden: Walks and Work
God often uses change, suffering, or catastrophes to remind us what really matters. Life doesn’t consist in our possessions, hobbies, entertainment, and machines. Though they have value and bring pleasure to our lives, they remain temporary, non-important sideshows in the race of life. When taken away, we often learn that other truths contain far greater value.
For example, as the Apostle Paul neared the end of his life, he zeroed on the “basics” that stood taller than the books he’d read, the miles traveled, or the adventures he’d experienced. He declared that more important than any worldly things were the character values of “faith, hope and love. And the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).
Faith, hope and love are needs–not desires.
Moving around is nice. But if you break your neck and will never walk again, then faith in God becomes more important than mobility. If you’re about to be gassed in the ovens of Auschwitz, (I’m currently reading a book on the horrors of World War II), then hope supersedes living. And if you’ve messed up your life, then encounter the gracious love of Jesus Christ, he becomes your pearl of great price–far better than anything the world offers.
Suffering or deprivations often remind us what really counts. Faith (holding God’s sturdy hand), hope (knowing you’ll enjoy Him forever), and love (intimacy with your Creator and his children), are real necessities we can’t live without.
I hope you’re growing the “Big Three” during the current plague.
Back in Genesis we also glimpse two other “basics” around which Adam and Eve’s lives revolved.
Walks and Work.
Are you reviving them during the Coronapolalypse?
Walking with God
As I describe in River of God, the Garden of Eden (Delightful) displayed the loveliest environment one can imagine:
“The original garden was beautiful beyond description–a “paradise” where human beings and their Creator could share intimate loving friendship. According to the Bible, God created Adam (Man) in in His image and placed him the Garden to tend and care for it. God later created Eve (To Give Life) as a perfect companion to him. Together Adam and Eve walked in close friendship with their Creator (Genesis 2:19 and 3:8).”
Can you imagine “walking” with God (in some manifested form) in the most beautiful place on earth? Think of the colors, tastes, textures and sounds they enjoyed while communing with their Maker. Words cannot describe the exhilaration they must have experienced.
When they sinned, God arrived in the cool of the night for the evening stroll, but this time they hid because of shame and guilt (Genesis 3:8-10). The intimate walks with God would be altered forever (Genesis 3:11-19).
However, after the Fall of humankind, people of faith continued to walk with God (Genesis 5:22-24).
I’ve noticed during the government-induced lock down that more people are walking. Tired of sheltering indoors, they long for fresh air and open space. Many walk dogs and others listen to music. Some travel in twosomes for fellowship and others go it alone in deep thought and meditation.
I’ve never seen so many people walking in my life.
Though I’ve always liked to walk and run (before hip surgery), walking is a special pleasure during the pandemic to commune with God and intercede for others. I usually take a thirty-minute prayer walk 5-6 times a week.
Steve Hawthorne says that prayer walking is simply the combination of walking and talking with God. He calls it “praying on site with insight,” and can be guided by 1) Our awareness of people, situations and events, 2) By information gathered about neighbors and the neighborhood, and 3) Insights from the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures.
When I’m at Faith International University, I do three laps around beautiful Vassault Park adjacent to the campus. This public domain contains 2-3 soccer fields and baseball diamonds with acres of lush green grass. On my first lap, I often worship and pray for leadership in the world. On my second time around I pray by name for each of my students (asking God for detailed insights). The third pass is open to the Holy Spirit’s leading regarding people, places and needs in the world.
When I work out of my office at First Christian Church in Port Orchard, I enjoy the same routine around our park-like seven-acre campus. First lap prayers include the global Church; Second lap the forty-eight local churches in our community; On the third lap I pray for my home church and however God leads.
Notice I use some structure in my praying because I’m a structured guy. But I also allow God to “change the format” and be spontaneous.
Pray according to your own design.
During the coronavirus interruption, prayer walks remain the favorite part of my day. How about you? Let’s pray that people all over the world will learn once again to “walk with God.”
Working for God
Genesis 2:15 tells us:
“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”
Even before the Fall, human beings were designed to take pleasure and pride in work. We were created to “work for God” by improving and caring for the planet He gave us.
When we design products, create inventions, build homes and cities, manage parks and wild habitat–in everything we do to create culture and wealth on earth–we should work for the glory of God (Colossians 3:23,24).
Human beings were made to produce.
I’ve noticed during the shut-down that more people are doing home improvements. And as governments restrain people from their normal jobs, a growing outcry to get back to work has sprung up around the world.
Work creates dignity, self-sufficiency (with God’s help), and limits frivolous waste of time. It uplifts our self-esteem and helps us make valuable contributions to the lives of others.
It also puts food on the table.
I believe the world’s governments made a mistake by keeping people from work during the pandemic. This created two camps. The message from secular-progressives is “Stay Safe” and “Stay Scared.” Those closer to biblical ideas and a love of freedom declare: “Stay Safe and Get Back to Work.”
Most Americans agree with the latter. You see it in numerous insurrections and civil disobedience now taking place across the fruited plain.
David Livingstone, the famous pioneer missionary to Africa once stated his life philosophy succinctly:
“Fear God and work hard.”
I agree and modify it slightly to “walk with God and work for God.”
Jesus will come back for a Church like He left. Maybe we’re also learning that God will bless those who live like Adam and Eve once did.
Walking and working with Him.