Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Eden: Take This Job and Love It

We’ve been considering some of the things we can see about the character of God as they appear for us in a pre-sin moment in Eden. Eden uniquely provides an unhindered look into the relationship God wants between Himself and His creation.

First, we considered that God is shown in Eden to be primarily a God of unfettered fellowship; that He desired to share knowledge of Himself with humanity and that humanity was unashamed in the full presence of their Creator.

Second, we considered that God revealed Himself in the first moments of time to be a God who loves to bless and wants to be known as a rewarder of those who seek Him.

The third thing of note then is this. Adam and Eve had something you and I crave: They had worthwhile work.

Rather foolishly, when I have been having a tough day on the job and finding my efforts unsuccessful, I have wistfully said to someone who was listening — and ideally there wasn’t anybody listening — “Well, you know, work is a curse”.

But I was wrong then and you’d be wrong to think it now. Work isn’t a curse.

Worthless work is a curse. Work that makes you sweat and produces nothing of lasting value is a curse. But in Eden, while there was work, it was always worthwhile work.

So what made the work worthwhile?

What made it worthwhile is this: God wanted it done.

In Genesis 2:5 it says this: “When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up — for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land” — okay, I’m with it that far, but listen to this last phrase — “and there was no man to work the ground”. It’s only in verse 8 we find that God creates a garden and places man there to tend it. God’s purposes were delayed — not frustrated — until a man was ready to manage what God intended.

Is there other work that God waits for? Is there a work he’d like to see done and he can’t begin it, as much as He’d like to, because there’s no man to do it; no woman to take it up? So God waits. Sometimes it’s only three verses of waiting. Sometimes it appears that He waits generations. He always accomplishes His purposes but sometimes the lack of willing workers produces a delay.

God wanted a garden. It was in his heart, it was in his mind, but he said, “I can’t do it because there has to be a man to cultivate it”. That’s work, isn’t it? Worthwhile work.

Very often you and I are consumed with doing things that God does not wish done. Unsurprisingly we find that sort of work is often filled with frustration and though we wait for God’s approval of our efforts, it never comes. Before sin’s appearance, Adam never knew the curse of self-directed effort. He worked in the garden but he never toiled. Adam didn’t find work or service to God to be a curse. Adam was made, in part, to serve his Creator with vigor and to find satisfaction in his role; so he did. I can’t say that’s always or even often been my experience when I pursue my own agenda.

But secondly we find that work in the garden was worthwhile because it produced results that pleased both God and man.

When Adam took the seeds that God gave him and put them in the ground, they did not grow up choked with weeds. They did not fail to germinate. They produced a bountiful crop. Adam had satisfying, worthwhile work; meaningful work because he could see the results of his labours; he could see God prosper his hand.

And that — to both God and to man — was in keeping with the meaning of the word “Eden”.

Worthwhile work is a delight.

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