I come from an extremely intelligent family. My father came close to graduating university with three different left-brained degrees, and my brother just received his Doctor of Philosophy in Physics. My mother was a nurse for forever, and her father was a well-renowned doctor in Ohio.
To say I fall far from the tree would be an understatement; I fell, and rolled and rolled and rolled, around the world and back. Even though I lean more towards the arts and adventurous, free-spirited side of life, I still like to claim the intelligent side of the family. I like to say my English degree was really a creative degree in Psychology and Sociology, simply for mere scientific justification. And while the rest of my family can dissect and understand science and math, I can do so with art and literature. This ability to analyze, analyze, and overanalyze has proved to be both a good and evil influence in my life.
In college, I took a few philosophy classes that challenged my beliefs and caused me to doubt that which I had been raised to think was true. I spent whatever free time I had reading and studying what it is I actually believe. I spent numerous hours and dollars on books, trying to figure out truth. My ability to overanalyze everything came to fruition during those times, and it was then that the pursuit of knowledge became my idol and goal in life.
I didn’t realize how stuck in my head I had become until I went to Spain this past October. My brain had gotten in the way of my heart. I had lost the true reality of what it means to be a follower of Jesus, to be loved by the Father, and to be filled with the Spirit.
Since the beginning of this year, I began walking in a newness of God’s love; but the truth of the gospel really knocked me in my face when I traveled to the Middle East in February. I was entering the land where the Garden of Eden is suggested to have been located, where Noah built the ark, where Abram lived before becoming Abraham, where the wise men supposedly travelled from, and where Peter preached at one point.
I remember the first day I was there and we had driven up a mountain just outside of town. There I stood, overlooking valleys and hills, with snow capped mountains in the far distance. This ill-conceived land and untouched beauty overwhelmed my vision as I tried to take mental pictures and notes of what was in front of me. I was staring at the land where it all began. I was looking at a piece of creation that not many people have the privilege to see. I was gazing into my future in the Middle East and, ironically, God’s symbolic desire for all of mankind.
I imagined Noah building an ark in this area and Abram checking in on his cattle and family. I pictured God looking at the land and shaping out each crack and crevice along the mountain, scooping out pieces of land to make valleys, and curving out mounds of dirt to form hills. I saw the Garden and the simplicity of life when Adam and Eve enjoyed the presence of God with nothing distracting or hindering them.
After some time, we had to leave to go on with our day, and I eventually had to fly back to Spain. I’ll never forget the days that followed. I began to create a garden outside our home and it was there that God first spoke the words that forever changed my perspective and my life.
Sarah, all of life is about living with Me. My original intention of man was to spend time with him and love him. It’s time for you to go back to the garden.
It doesn’t take rocket science to realize I had been making everything too complicated. My crazy brain had hindered my walk with God so much that He literally took me to the place where it all began and showed me the place He spent time with Adam and Eve. He then had me work on a garden of my own, which began with pulling weeds for about two weeks, tilling the ground, and finally planting flowers before flying back to the States.
However, once I landed in Texas, my mind went crazy with to-do lists and busyness that I quickly forgot to breathe in the peace of simplicity that comes from living in the garden. My brain would become exhausted trying to figure this and that out, and I would end up going nowhere. I had made things way too complicated and could hardly think straight. I realized that when I’m not walking in communion and in the presence of God, I try to take things into my own hands, rebuilding idols of knowledge and control. Anxiety, worry, and stress fill my heart instead of peace, love, and joy. I overanalyze things which I am unable to understand and try to answer questions which I don’t have answers to.
And then. I remember to breathe. I remember to think and live simply. I remember to go to the garden.
A dear friend of mine continually reminds me that life is all about the journey; and that’s definitely good news. Life doesn’t end when we lose sight of the garden. It continues, full of grace and an open door back to the Father’s relentless love. So that’s how I choose to live. I most likely don’t have all the answers to questions, and I probably can’t theologically explain why things are the way they are. But I’m ok with that. I hope that by the way I walk in the garden every day, that you too will go back to the garden and live in the simplicity of the Father’s love.