Paradise Remembered

1:11  Then God said,
“Let the earth sprout vegetation,
plants yielding seed,
and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit after their kind with seed in them;
and it was so.

The earth brought forth vegetation,
plants yielding seed after their kind,
and trees bearing fruit with seed in them, after their kind;
and God saw that it was good.

The second verse is a mirror image of the first.  All happens exactly as he designed and spoke.  There is no chaos or malformation or fault-line getting into the mix, no seeds of destruction or harm but only of good and beauty.  In this original creation, God’s will reigns, and the result is paradise.  What glory and beauty must it be to live in complete union with the will of one so committed to our joy and fulfillment?

But that is now ancient history.  For millennia we have forged our own way, our own will, and so we find ourselves now in this chaos of pain and woe where we are immersed in a world set against him.  We tell ourselves the old stories to remind us of what God’s will truly is when it has full sway.  When it is unopposed, it is full of delight, but when it fights an evil system, it is full of trial and suffering.  If God’s will for us is to embrace pain and face into the storm and resist our easy, pleasant, dark urges, if it is to choose what feels like dying, then in what sense is it “good”?

The path of recovery often feels more harsh, painful, and difficult than the smooth way of this present world.  Like any well-laid trap, the thorns yield easily to those stepping off the true path, but are sharply barbed against their return.  And so we wait and pray “thy kingdom come” and live as best we can to overcome the spiritual entropy of the dark within us and around us.  The goodness of God is greater than the darkness and is bringing all to that final Eden.  Thank God that all he plans is good and that his beauty will sweep in once again to captivate us fully.  We must never forget that our vision of good, of God’s will as paradise, is more deeply true and certain than anything we must suffer in our pursuit of it.

Father, I struggle to see your goodness, your true goodness that fills our hearts and minds and bodies with song when it reigns supreme.  My experience of this world fogs over that view and tempts me to see you as less than good, as one who is indifferent to my suffering when it is for “the greater good.”  Help me to hold onto a faith that sees you as the All Loving One who does not stand above my suffering, but enters into it with empathy and sorrow, who does not push me into the dark, but holds my hand through it, feeling the pain with me and encouraging me with the All-Good that lies ahead.

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