Most everyone knows the story, even if they don’t believe the story. In the beginning, there was only God. Nothing else. And then God spoke, and “nothing” became “everything”, including human beings.
Everything was good. Very good, in fact. All creation existed in perfect harmony, and at the center piece of everything was the crown jewel of creation. The man and the woman lived in perfect fellowship with God, walking without guilt, shame, or any other hindrance with Him. God gave His creation the twin gifts of freedom and constraint, all summarized in this simple statement:
“You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die” (Gen. 2:16-17).
The first people did not trust the Lord and His Word and chose their own way, and with that choice everything that was good and right and harmonious was corrupted. It is, of course, a well known story. Maybe the best known story. And at least for the Christian, it’s not only well known but essential because it is through this story that we find the answer to the question of what is really wrong with the world.
Yes, there are all kinds of answers to that question, depending on the person you ask and the particular issue at the forefront of a person’s mind, but those are all downstream answers. The upstream answer – the one at the source of the trouble – is sin. That’s what’s wrong with the world. And this moment in the garden is when it all started.
Knowing this story, then, is an essential part of knowing who we are and what is wrong with us. That’s true in an ultimate sense – the main thing wrong with us is that we are sinners and that we need reconciliation with God. But this story, when you zoom out a little bit, also helps us see what is going wrong with us every day. Here’s what I mean:
At a high level, here is what we see happening in the Garden of Eden:
- God loved His children and knew what was best for them.
- In His love, He gave them limits.
- Their rebellion was a refusal to honor those limits.
This same scenario plays itself out in a hundred ways each day in our lives. It plays itself out every time we fail to trust that God loves us and therefore His commands are not only right, but they are for our good. So we refuse those to honor those limits. It plays itself out when:
- We do not honor the sexual limitations God has given us.
- We do not honor the financial limitations God has given us.
- We do not honor relational limitations God has given us.
And here’s one more – when we do not honor the time limitations God has given us. That’s what the Garden of Eden has to do with our calendar. It’s that when we find ourselves constantly overextended, unable to close the laptop or put down the phone, incapable of saying “no” or “enough,” we are living out that same pattern of the garden.
God still loves His children and knows what is best for them. In His love, He has given us limitations. Limitations like our need for sleep. Or like the fact that the sun comes up and goes down in a regular cycle signaling the time for rest. Or that He explicitly set aside one day a week when no work was to be done, and even went so far as taking a day off Himself even though He was not tired so that we would do as He did. But in our rebellion, we refuse to honor those limits and justify our unwillingness to do so.
You and I will both have the opportunity to rest this week, and most of us will, at least at some level, find a reason to NOT do it. We will justify it with a deadline or a task list or just an inflated sense of our own importance. But we will not likely see our refusal to take control of our calendars as an expression of rebellion. But it is.
God loves us. Because He loves us, He gives us limits. It is for us to decide whether we trust His love or not, and one of the clearest places we see the evidence of that trust is our calendars.