Settling into our new home (older home, but new to us) here in Florida means we get to landscape with far different plants than when we lived in Michigan. For instance, we just finished planting a palm tree – quite the task. We had to clear the location of a bunch of bushes, dig the hole, get the palm from its large container into the hole, and position the concrete blocks of edging around it. The effort was well worth it. We now have a palm tree gracing our front yard!
The work of landscaping and gardening reminds me of the story of a minister who was visiting a member of his church. The man had shown the pastor his garden, his pride and joy. The pastor, gazing upon the beautiful garden, commented, “God’s creation is certainly beautiful, isn’t it?” The church member replied, “Yeah, but you should have seen it when just God had it, before I started working on it.”
The church member might have been wrong at being miffed with his pastor for giving all the credit to God, but, in a way, he was right. The very first human, Adam, was placed in the Garden of Eden and told to tend it. I’m not sure what “tending” the Garden of Eden included, but it must have involved some work and probably some planting, transplanting, and landscaping. I’m sure the Garden of Eden was beautiful the way God made it, but apparently there were things He left undone so that Adam could work on it further.
We don’t live in the Garden of Eden (far from it, right?), but God’s intention has not changed. He still has the world designed in such a way that He wants us to partner with Him to carry out His will and purposes.
God helps people, but part of that help comes through our responding compassionately to the needs of those within our sphere of influence. God wants justice to be done in this world of His, and He calls us to stand up for what’s right, to help make that happen. God wants to bring joy into the lives of others, and one way He wants to do that is for us to spread His joy among those with whom we come in contact. Praying for God to act in someone’s life is another way He asks us to participate in His work, for He sometimes chooses not to act until we ask Him to do so.
“Work with me,” God says. Life is most meaningful when we live with the realization that God calls us to partner with Him to carry out His great and grand purposes.
“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)