The bible begins with a regular encounter that took place in a garden, In the opening lines we see that God originally walked with Adam and Eve in a garden.
Genesis 3: 8-9
“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?””
God the creator of the garden would appear to be taking His daily walk with the stewards of the paradise. The Hebrew verb in it’s reflexive conjugation could mean “walking for pleasure”, and there is also an implication that this was regular occurrence, not a one off! God walked for pleasure regularly with Adam and Eve.
Adam and Eve heard him walking; they heard the sound of his footsteps. Maybe God was loud but I get the impression that to hear his footsteps, to listen out for him, they had to get still, to sit quietly and listen to hear God coming!
This all happened in the cool of the day, after the work was done, normally in a hot climate when the evening breeze sets in. So, this wasn’t all business this was a rested walk, maybe even a tired walk! I would imagine Adam or Eve didn’t just rattle off a list to God!
We have this beautiful picture, of rested man and woman waiting patiently and quietly for the arrival of God who would walk regularly with them for pleasure. Man encountering God, Man living in close communion with God. The original plan was one of regular encounter. A set aside time of walking and talking.
Of course we know it all went wrong but this was the original intent; mankind walking with creator God.
We see God calling “Where art thou?”
Do you think when God called out to Adam “where art thou?” that it was because he didn’t know where Adam was? I find this hard to believe; that the omniscient creator of the universe could somehow lose two humans!
Some commentators would say God was not calling out to find out what place Adam and Eve were in but rather what condition they were in. Almost a modern day “where are you at?”
It was a gracious pursuit, an enquiry after the state of their hearts!
The plan was encounter, God walking with His creation.
The plan is still encounter, God walking with His creation.
We need to create space in our lives for regular encounter. Where’s your garden?
The Hebrew word for garden: gannah literally means ‘a covered or hidden place,’ this kind of garden in biblical times was usually a walled enclosure, a place with winding paths, fruit trees, running water, fountains, sweet smelling herbs and blossoms a beautiful, tranquil sheltered place!
We need to find our Garden, our place of encounter!
My garden is a chair I sit in every morning, my garden is the prayer beads I use to help me focus, my garden is the small wooden cross I hold, the journal I write in, the bible I annotate, the devotional I read.
My Garden is the walk I go on, my garden can be the sanctuary of my car, my garden can be the gym the place of physical exercise becomes a spiritual exercise. My garden is standing still whilst the kettle boils and asking the Lord to rise in me, my garden is music that stills my stress and focuses my mind, my garden is art that I stand and stare at, my garden is the wonder of creation that if I walk slowly enough I get to look at.
We need to take the mundane repetitive aspects of our everyday lives and turn them into gardens, maybe travel a little slower, breathe a little more deeply, still our hearts and minds and try to live as rested friends of God.
Create gardens, small covered hidden places where you can regularly walk for pleasure with your creator, we need to get still when the work is done and listen quietly for his footsteps as he enquires after the state of our hearts.