There’s a sweet ballad that has visited me often these past few weeks, one packed full with nostalgia and longing like that of creation’s in Romans 8. It’s Crowder’s “Back to the Garden,” in which he talks about our godly genes.
I was born to be royal. I was made to be free.
The place we’re in today, where depression is rising; dissatisfaction, too, among more than just teens. Everyone feels like the earth isn’t enough: that something is missing, and whatever is here on this molten sphere is not sating us. You can understand the hearty plea to “be taken back to the garden of Eden,” much like when we were children and bliss occasioned us at every stage.
No responsibility. No heartache. No existential awareness.
The world doesn’t feel like a garden anymore. It’s bereft of water and spore, when the sunlight turns its rays away and sends unsolicited frost. But it wasn’t intended to be.
An indeterminable and irrelevant time ago, God made man and placed him in the Garden of Eden for a purpose: that he would tend it and take care of it.
“Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.” (Gen. 2:15, NKJV)
Interestingly, the word “tend” in Hebrew is not how we usually think of tending a garden. We may think of using a hoe or spade–tooling and tilling the garden, as it were. The word actually used was abad, which means “to serve.” While contextually it means “to cultivate,” the root serve conveys a vital meaning we mustn’t miss.
It was Adam’s task to procure the garden for all of his progeny as a servant. What a concept of servitude: physical labor for others. We’re not talking about serving in church here, folks. This is straight to the dust and dirt.
So we take this concept of going back to the garden–perhaps the thought of us flittering to and fro, weightless and ethereal? And to do what? What in God’s green garden will you do once there? Lie in the lea amongst the animals and ferns, idle? Perhaps there’s physical word to do–may it be agrarian at best?
Going back to the garden isn’t about rest. Fleeing from the world isn’t about finding respite from the chaos, not having to go into work, or being able to do nothing and absolutely nothing to eternity on. That’s a waste of a garden.
There’s life in the garden
There’s this one passage in Scripture that always captures my intention. In fact it rose to the surface more prominently while I was reading The Shack.
It comes in the context of early John, when Jesus is described as “the Word.”
In him was life, and the life was the light of the men.
Life, the fleeting essence within us, is perceived so wrongly in this culture. “You have a lot of activities?” You must have a life. “You did nothing this weekend?” You have no life. A definition that circumvents the source of life for one based on physical activities is rending youths’ images of how they see their own life. They are taught to parse good or lame lives based their stuff and their itinerary.
When it comes to stuff, you’ll never be satisfied; and I don’t say this purely in a spiritual way–only to say that “in Jesus is life, so stop searching.” I mean that anything we do, anything I do, always results in a nostalgia and a surging desire to return to the garden where true life is.
When you’re asking God to “take me back to the garden,” it doesn’t start once you die. You can lie in the lea today.