Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Living Beyond the Curse

"Instead of the thorn bush will grow the pine tree, and instead of the briers the myrtle will grow." Isaiah 55:13

Triple H Days - hazy, hot, humid - hung thick like stew for days. I camped out inside with the AC except for occasional runs from the cool car to the grocery store and back. It was even too hot for my Maine Coon cat who sprawled tummy-up on the kitchen floor in direct line of the artificial arctic blast, too hot to care about chasing mice in our neighbor's yard.

It was hard waiting for the promised cold front because here in New England weather changes every ten minutes (or so it seems), but when it finally arrived, we both welcomed it with all its loud booming and glorious lightning flashes accompanied by monsoon rains and lower humidity. Ahhh! Paradise.

But with relief came hard work. Every shrub and fruit bush showed burned leaves or shriveled fruit. Weeds grew taller than the day lilies, crab grass flourished,  and spider mites webbed their way through our ornamental spruce trees. Time for some low-to-the-ground calisthenics!

I worked for hours tugging, sweating, pulling out 60 gallons worth of weeds from my garden beds. And as each bag overflowed I thought about God's curse on the land found in Genesis 3:17-18 NIV:

“Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.  It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field..."

After my four hour weeding frenzy my little piece of paradise was restored, but not without sweat equity dripping from every pour. I wanted to give Adam and Eve a little piece of my mind! I often wonder what it was like living in the Garden of Eden prior to the Fall, before God cursed the land, don't you? I imagine temped air, gorgeous blooms in rainbow colors and lush green foliage; gigantic shade trees, delicious fruit trees bursting with food, and wooded paths along a cool river where God and man met on a big flat rock at the end of every day.

My heart longs for Paradise lost, doesn't yours? The perfect place where order rules and all is right between earth and sky, man and beast and his Creator.

Jesus came, not only to restore man to the Creator-God, but to restore the whole earth as well. In Matthew 27 we read that the Roman soldiers crowned Jesus with thorns. An elder in my church recently pointed out that these thorns represented the curse of toil, weeds, and thistle. When Jesus' blood flowed over his thorny crown, it redeemed us from the curse of toiling - not from work - for work was good - given to us by God after Creation:

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. Genesis 2:15 NIV

As followers of Jesus, we are Kingdom people - holding the glory and goodness of God within us. Therefore, everything and anything we do is sacred - done unto the Lord himself. As we make things "right", (whether we weed our gardens, change our baby's diaper, steady our aging parents, organize our office desk, smile at the postal clerk, whatever it is), we are agents of God's Kingdom through our actions and attitudes.

God calls us, through Jesus, to partner with Him to restore His Kingdom on earth (full of thorns and thistles) as it is in heaven (perfect order). We can't do it alone - not by the sweat of our brow or our limited resources - but through giving God all that we are and letting Him and His limitless resources flow through us.

Are we willing to live beyond the curse? Rather than toiling (grumbling) through our jobs, household tasks, or yard work, let's give thanks for God's provision - call forth His Kingdom in our bosses, our families, our bits of property - so that everything we have and do shines God's glory.

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