Some thoughts on the first three chapters of Genesis.

In the beginning, God spoke and it happened, and it was good. As image-bearers, we too speak and when we do, things happen. Things become real.

God created the earth and he created us. When he created the earth, he called it good. And he gave it to us. The earth is a good gift. He meant for us to rule it; that is, to care for it. It is also meant as something to care for us; that is, God made us to need food, and he made the earth (specifically the plants of the earth) to provide that need.

Before the fall, ruling the earth was work. The earth has always required work in its care.

None of the creatures of the earth were suitable helpers, or as pastor E would say, rescuers, for Adam. It’s almost as if it says there was a search going on, or that as each creature came to Adam for its name, for its expression of identity, none of them filled that particular need for companionship that Adam needed. Just as nothing else God had made filled that particular need for companionship that God needed. Until Adam. And Eve. If Adam is to God as Eve is to Adam, does Adam somehow ‘rescue’ God as Eve rescues Adam?

Genesis 3:17-19 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’

“Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat of it
all the days of your life.
It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return.”

Adam screwed up. He is cast out and the earth is cursed. And so we have the messed up world we now live in. What was once pleasant work in the care of the earth is now painful toil that produces thorns and thistles as much as it does food. And we will surely return to the earth from which we were taken.

I think about this passage a lot when I think about gardening on our homestead. Our homestead is dry, rocky and cracked, and what isn’t thistle is surely thorn. Cactus, mesquite, jumping cholla, ocotillo, pricklies galore. I believe there is something of God in a desert garden. In it I cannot escape the notion that the world is fallen and not what it is meant to be. The modern conveniences we Americans enjoy sometimes feel like a blatant attempt to pretend that the world isn’t fallen after all, that we are in control of how we live and what we do. We can travel wherever we want whenever we want, eat whatever we like regardless of what season it is in. We can control our environment with air conditioners and furnaces, humidifiers and dehumidifiers, artificial lights and dual-paned windows. All of this technology coupled with a deep-seated cultural commitment to avoid discomfort makes it feel possible to live in an idyllic utopian world. It is when I poke my head out into places like a desert garden, a literal natural metaphor for a sin-sick, broken world, that I catch another glimpse of how disconnected I really am.

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