We all know the Adam and Eve story.
Regardless of your thoughts on the story’s historicity, we all know that everything was right and well and good, and that mankind had a harmonious relationship with God at some point way back when.
It’s the reason we want utopia again. We know somewhere down deep that at some point it must’ve existed—a world that was right and peaceful and flourishing. It’s the only thing that explains that universal emotion every human feels when something goes wrong—it shouldn’t be this way. We innately know it to be true–there’s a way it should be.
No matter our religion or background, when fights happen, when divorce happens, when death happens, when family brokenness happens, when accidents or diseases strike, we all know it shouldn’t be this way. We all know there’s got to be a better, fuller, peace-filled way.
As a human race, we don’t know how we know it. We don’t know who rules the roost of the Great Beyond. But we know in our very DNA that somehow, somewhere, there’s a version of the world that models the way it should be. And we compare our world to that standard. It’s the whole reason we came up with the word ought. There’s some reality, some world that exists or existed that this world is held in contrast with, or we’d never say things like “she ought to” or “this ought not be this way.”
I think the reason we know in our souls that some things shouldn’t be this way is because God designed us to know the difference between order and chaos, harmoniousness and dissension. He originally made us for the harmonious world, not the broken one.
Our souls know when we look around at the hurting parts of the world and even in our own strained relationships —it just shouldn’t be this way.
So we take it a step further, and tease out our logic, following to its end: We know that at some point the world must’ve been right for it to feel so wrong now. As a human race, we must’ve experienced the perfect environment in order to have such a tuning fork for when it’s off-balance and threatened. How else would we know?
We know it was fixed and right at some point, or we wouldn’t care so much about all the broken places. Had it been broken from the beginning, we’d be used to it. Our hearts wouldn’t cry out to set things right. Chaos would be normal. Dissension and violence would seem appropriate and par for the course. It would just the be the way of human nature and no one would ask questions about its cruelty.
But, no matter how we try to block it out, those nasty little things rub us the wrong way. Because we know, down deep in our bones, there’s a right way it should be. We know the laws of nature weren’t always so cruel.
And since we know deep down that the world had to be right at some point back in the day, we are left with a question: what happened? What went down?
While the various veins of faith give us different reasons for when and where and why and how, our souls universally know we’re walking around in the middle of a right world gone wrong. We know something veered off track and could be better than it is now.
And then our minds and souls do the thing God made them to do. They make reasonable conclusions: Something must’ve happened along the way.
That’s the story of the Garden of Eden.
It’s the story of what happened. It’s the snapshot of the first time the world went sideways instead of right-side-up. It’s a glimpse into the world pre-ugly, pre-broken, pre-violent. It’s the world 1.0.
It’s that world we all long to get back to if we’re honest. It’s the utopia and harmonious environment with God, each other, and our habitat that we crave to feel perfectly balanced again.
No jabbing arguments and hurtful worlds. No sinning against each other or the earth. No exploitation or disease or dehumanization. No inequality. No unsteady friendships or marriages or families. No crying in the car or screening phone calls because you just can’t deal with that today. No revisiting that argument one more time because your idiot sister/boyfriend/husband/boss/parent/coworker/friend can’t seem to figure out what you’re saying even though you’ve said it a million times in a million different ways.
Can you imagine?
No relational friction? Always loving the people around you with no fickleness or fluctuations? No evils in the world? Your capacity never drained? Your ability to relate to another human never inhibited by fear or offensiveness or miscommunication or selfishness? Your ability to communicate with God pure and clear and static-free? Always able to put another person’s needs ahead of your own? Never needing the spotlight, but loving to elevate other people ahead of yourself? And not ending up a doormat when you do put people ahead of you because they are sinless too, incapable of using your selfless acts with ulterior motives?
Always appreciative of others and always appreciated by them, too.
Always encouraging to others and always encouraged in return.
Always cared for and always caring for others.
Working within the way God has gifted you and enjoying your work to the highest degree, everyday, all the time.
No thorns and thistles at work or in the home.
Always alert and refreshed and operating out of the strength the Lord provides.
Never in friction with Him, but in tune with His ways and His love for you and His plans.
Seen. Valued. Empowered.
Right and whole and full of life.
This is the world without sin. This is a humanity who has never heard the word evil and has no category for it. This is the planet where life and communication and human coexistence was silky smooth and static-free.
This is the story of the Garden.
Maybe you don’t believe it really happened. Maybe you think it’s a metaphor. Maybe you think it’s a legend. Maybe you think it was a real, historical moment in time.
Regardless of where you start when it comes to the garden, I hope you leave this series feeling like you understand the age-old story with a lot more clarity and more importantly, see a more beautiful God behind it.
Maybe the Bible will seem a bit more approachable to you after this. Maybe it won’t. Either way, I hope you’re intrigued by the God in the story—what kind of Parent he is to the two rascals galavanting in the garden, why He kicks them out, how He deals with them when they take a big juicy bite, why He gives the consequences He does, and how He ultimately loves them and provides for their missteps.
I’ll tell you, it’s a really, really good story, no matter where you are in your faith journey. You’ll see yourself in a couple places and probably laugh along with me, never knowing you could relate the way you do. And hopefully God will seem bigger, yes, but also more reasonable and enjoyable to you than you thought He could be.
Oh, how I hope you like Him by the end of the story. He’s my favorite character.