(From Part 7: The Sending Spirit)
God creates the world, puts everything in order for vitality and sustainability, then asks Adam and Eve to have dominion over it.
In my imagination, Adam and Eve, with a mixture of shock and exasperation at the enormity of the task, place an arm on their forehead and sigh, “What? The whole world? But it’s so huge?”
To which I imagine God smiling, and saying, “Oh, I forgot to tell you. I’m placing you in a garden. The way you look after this whole world, is by faithfully tending the garden I’m placing you in.”
Adam and Eve breathe a collective phew, and let God know that a garden is much more doable for them.
Then God asks them to fill this world, to populate it.
Again, in my imagination, I see Adam and Eve, shocked and exasperated at the enormity of the task before them. “How on earth are we going to do that?”
With a twinkle in his eye and smile in his voice, I see God drawing them in close and saying, “Go and get a room. You know, make love. Get up close and personal with one another. Make babies. Lots of them.”
“Aaah,” I envisage Adam and Eve saying, smiling at each other. “That we can do!”
Faithfully tending your garden, and walking in intimacy.
These two values instilled into creation are still ways through which the Holy Spirit partners with us today.
Jesus gives the great commission, telling us to go and make disciples of all nations.
Like Adam and Eve, with arm on forehead, we may inquire, “What? The whole world? This is impossible!”
Only to hear the Holy Spirit say, “It’s alright, I’m placing you in a garden.”
You’re not responsible for the whole world. You can lay down false guilt about not going to the nations.
But you are called to the garden in which you’ve been placed.
Your garden is your primary sphere of relationships. It is where you do life, interact with others, have influence, and can be a blessing. It includes your family, your neighbours and neighbourhood, work colleagues, fellow students, friends.
In this garden, we develop intimacy. That is, we make connections, engage, apologise, receive forgiveness, bless, and help others prosper and grow. Through intimacy, we grow in transparency and vulnerability, walking authentically and letting Holy Spirit fruit flow through us.
Gardens respond to being tended. There’s watering, weeding, clearing, planting, and pruning to be done. As we get older, Julie and I realise that a little bit, often, is far better than a big effort once every six months.
It’s the same in our relational gardens we tend for the Kingdom. Intimacy is not really cultivated in a one-off effort every six months, but through regular engagements where the fruit of the Spirit is shared.
I asked a friend recently why they haven’t taken the leap and purchased their own house. In addition to still saving, he said they’ve been renting from a Muslim family for close to ten years, and the relationships are reaching a stage of mutual trust and intimacy. So why leave that garden now!
I like that. Everyone’s gardens are different.
Seeing mission as tending your garden and cultivating intimacy may just be one of the most freeing steps you take. For you, and those you connect with!