Eden Replanted

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“What the world calls virtue is a name and a dream without Christ. The foundation of all human excellence must be laid deep in the blood of the Redeemer’s cross and in the power of his resurrection.”

– Frederick W. Robertson –


What power does it take, I wonder, for a dead man’s stale-aired lungs to refill with living breath?

For a still, quiet heart to lurch into a victory march,

For decomposing tissue to knit back seamless

And blood to gush and pulse in gloriously awakened veins?

To restore soul and body ripped apart by death takes the same Divine breath that enlivened Adam’s first stirring.

In a garden, God breathed and the first Adam rose,

And, after millennia of death-throes, a maid of Adam’s flesh begets a greater Sequel.

He, too, awakes in a garden, a living, unblemished soul, filled with the breath of God,

Beyond time and years and ages, a Man so far above the first, yet stooping to humanity’s form (Philippians 2:5-11).

So long before, the garden-dweller of the beginning thought to make himself god by following a serpent, as the serpent also had coveted the high throne of God (Isaiah 14:12-15).

The second, the new yet ageless, the Divine, thought to make Himself man, and this second Adam set to crushing the crown of that snake who sought to make an everlasting Waste of Eden (Genesis 3:15).

But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.”

– 1 Corinthians 15:20-22, NKJV –

In the garden of tombs, Mary went to weep over a good man’s body–a good, dead man’s body. But no–he was gone. Perplexed, Mary turned to search, and through tears saw a man.

The gardener? So she thought.

And wasn’t it true, that it was the gardener? It was He, the Gardener of a new, forever Eden, springing up from the earth, where like a dying seed He rose up again to new life, resurrection for more than Himself–food for many hungry and drink for those who thirst (John 12:23-26). Planting Himself as a mighty Vine to flood life into dry branches, this Gardener joined the plants of His own tending as one of them, a plant to bear seed that would make the whole garden sprout new-creation green.

What did Jesus come for? Why did He die? And, once dead, why did He have to rise?

“He came to undo the disaster and tragedy that Adam had effected. Adam had been set in the garden; it was almost as though God did for Adam what a kind father would do….God gave his son Adam a little start. He said to Adam, ‘Here is a garden. Your task is to tend this garden and to expand this garden until it fills the whole earth.’ Strikingly God commanded Adam to do this until, as it were, all the kingdoms of this world were his. If Adam had done that, just like a child who accomplishes something even though his father gave him a significant start, he would have brought it all back to his Father and said, ‘Father, look what I have done! I want you to have it all!’ So Adan’s fall was not just a matter of personal sin; it was a matter of cosmic disaster. He lost the world and Satan gained it….Our story, as human beings, began in a garden. Adam turned the garden into a wilderness, and Jesus went into the wilderness to deal with the enemy, in order that he might turn the world into a garden again. Isn’t that wonderful to think about? To return to Mary in the garden: John, who seems to love double entendres, records that Mary saw Jesus and supposed him to be the gardener (John 20:15). Jesus wanted her to see him like that, but it wasn’t just that little space that he was gardening. By his resurrection, he was ‘gardening’ the whole cosmos.”

– Sinclair Ferguson, These Last Days, from pages 9-10, 12-13, emphasis mine –

 

Suddenly, for me, Eden is a personal possibility. If the victory belongs to our glorious Christ, then why on earth do I need to go on living defeated? Why should I keep living with the shallowest love, the flightiest joy, or the most tenuous peace?

The resurrection means I have everything I need. I am not merely cleansed–I have access to God Himself, and will Him, everything necessary to obey Him.

If Christ is risen, and He, too, is mine, then what can I lack?

At my fingertips is the “exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead” (Ephesians 1:19-20).

Grace, costly grace, asks not a penny from me. But with the outpouring of cross-forgiveness comes its sister, the power of His rising.

Can I be content to go on living in slums when the riches of His abundant grace are mine by inheritance?

Why should I go on in weakness when He is strength at my side, alive and ready to fill me?

So it’s true: Because He lives, I really can face tomorrow. Because Jesus is alive, I can have joy for today. Because He rose, I now can love as I ought, because the power He promises me–that sin-breaking, exceedingly great power–is the very same power that lifts bodies from death.

If God can wake the dead, don’t you think He can fill this new-created child with Himself?

Raising His son, God the Father looked down on His atonement and smiled.

And it was good, very good. Good as earth had not been since the first days,

Full of grace and power and love again,

Eden Replanted.

The power for a dead man’s stale-aired lungs to refill with living breath…the power of Christ–Christ in you and Christ in me,

Christ the Living, the Resurrected, the Hope of glory,

The One who will bring us to completion, until all His bought ones shine with His light.


“And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.”

– Colossians 1:18-20, NKJV –

 

 

 

Thank you to Public Domain Pictures and Larisa Koshkina for today’s lovely photo!

 

 

 

 

Abundance, a Song Big Enough

“I came so that they could have life—indeed, so that they could live life to the fullest.”

~ John 10:10b, emphasis mine ~

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“That He came to us is the most stunning event, most astounding fact in history.

That we can’t get to the cross…so the Cross came to us.”

– Dr. Jeff Meyers, emphasis mine

In a culture and world so desperately sin-sick, I so often lose sight of the “bookends” of God’s story. When I lose the creation context, I forget that God is the Planner, the “Blessed Controller.” The fall sweeps me into the hope-vacuum and it becomes focused on me and my constant failures, my own desperation.

But as a storyteller myself, I finally came back to the Redemption and my personal world rocks with the glory. My heart, my head, can’t quite wrap around the starkness, the blinding, universe-shaking moment that the dragging, imploding darkness flees with the explosion of glorious light. And my heart quiets, somehow wishing for a song big enough to encompass my redemption.

In the world, it seems my personal failures are only mirrored, compounded, and spreading like a virus. What can solve this sin-death, but the One who took on flesh?

And oh, the breathless beauty that He did!

By Jesus taking on humanity, He abundantly sanctified all our normalcy.

“How is such a spiritual, “out-there” thing so earthy? So, here and now?

So Redemption is what we live in, the light that floods us with life.”

– Dr. Jeff Myers, emphasis mine –

There is a life out there that many of us have only begun to taste. An abiding, abundant, peace-radiant, joy-bubbling, Christ-longing life.

Our Father knows what we need before we ask Him (Matthew 6:8).

He knows we need this abundant life. He knows there is a song-gap in every heart, a longing for music with a swell big enough to carry us through a life and into an eternity.

Not only does he know about this song-hunger–He made it. He made souls that serve a Master. But what Master will we follow?

Only one song will quench us. Only One Life will fill us.

My dear teacher Dr. Jeff Myers taught his students about the principle of abundance. That is, we are not to be content with mediocrity. We are not to be content with merely a well-run race of our own.

An abundant life is a life that spreads. It is light that reaches out. It is a singer that teaches the Greatest Song to every longing soul she finds.

And this abundance–it isn’t something you have to find. It is already yours.

It’s why He came.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”

– Matthew 7:7-8, NKJV, emphasis mine –

Sisters, just ask. Today, ask. Enter the abundance that the Cross unleashed.

“If God has given you life abundantly, why aren’t you using it?”

~ Luci Swindoll ~

“To the one who is able to protect you from falling, and to present you blameless and rejoicing before his glorious presence,to the only God our savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, belong glory, majesty, power, and authority, before all time, now and forever. Amen.”

– Jude 24-25, CEB, emphasis mine-

Special thanks to Atalie Bale at ataliebalephotography.com for her beautiful photo of abundance!

On the Days I Just Can’t

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I huddle in the dark, the red numbers of the clock scrolling higher. I take a breath–deepest in a while–shuddering, almost a gasp in the nighttime. I close my eyes, rolling around bitter words in my head.

Why can’t I ever finish well?

Can it ever be a good sign to keep returning to “here I am again”?

Biting the dust…again.

Running out of drive…again.

Falling to my knees seeing that when I started feeling like I was good enough–strong enough–that’s when I began to slip back.

I recall the promise–He who has begun a good work in you will complete it, will perform it (Philippians 1:6). Paul was so confident of it.

Am I?

It’s so hard to cling to a filmy reality when the doubts are as hard as a physical wall. I keep plowing into that wall again and again.

Over and over I have tried and it just won’t stick. Many things I know to be right–it’s all furious flame and glory comes down. And then the dull rhythm that makes up a life sets in and I just stop trying after a while. Maybe I stop remembering all the efforts of the past. Any way I see it, I fail again.

My inconsistencies and failures chink into stony piles, judgment rocks that did get thrown. Thrown into a condemnation heap.

Why do those good intentions shimmer away like summer-time bubbles? What about hard-edged reality is stronger than my idealism?

Most importantly, why do I keep thinking I can handle my problems on my own?

Why do I persist in the living-out of a belief that says the “cross that saved me is not enough to solve me”? (The words of John Lynch, one of the authors of the book TrueFaced. Watch his minute and a half video here).

In his commentary on 2 Corinthians 12, Matthew Henry wrote:

“Though God accepts the prayer of faith, yet he does not always give what is asked for: as he sometimes grants in wrath, so he sometimes denies in love. When God does not take away our troubles and temptations, yet, if he gives grace enough for us, we have no reason to complain. Grace signifies the good-will of God towards us, and that is enough to enlighten and enliven us, sufficient to strengthen and comfort in all afflictions and distresses. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. Thus his grace is manifested and magnified. When we are weak in ourselves, then we are strong in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; when we feel that we are weak in ourselves, then we go to Christ, receive strength from him, and enjoy most the supplies of Divine strength and grace.” [emphasis mine]

S0–the reason that I fail? The reason that I just can’t get anything right?

It’s because I really can’t.

But, sisters–that glorious but–my Jesus can. “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power” (Colossians 2:9-10, NKJV).

Do you hear that? I am complete in Him. You are complete in Him. Because in him dwells all the fullness of God.

All the power, all the glory–all.

What does that mean, really? In the words of Francis Schaeffer, “How now should we live?”

It means when we get up in the morning, we “fall” the first chance we get–to our knees and tell him we can’t, but He can. (For more on “falling,” see Jennifer Rothschild’s book Lessons I Learned in the Dark.)

It means our hearts “fall” every time we get overwhelmed, and every time we start to think that maybe we can do it on our own after all. Trust me, you can’t. Only He can.

And it means that when we have problems, the grace is already there to see us through.

We just have to ask.

Charles Spurgeon said:

“God will have no strength used in His battles but the strength which He Himself imparts. Are you mourning over your own weakness? Taken courage, for there must be a consciousness of weakness before the Lord will give thee victory. Your emptiness is but the preparation for your being filled, and your casting down is but the making ready for your lifting up (Morning and Evening, November 4 Morning).

Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”

John 16:24b, NKJV

~Shelbie