Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
“And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to Adam, and said to him, ‘Where are you?'” (Genesis 3:8-9)
God was accustomed to communing with Adam in the garden “in the cool of the day” (for some reason I really love that phrase). After Adam had eaten of the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, he was not so eager to take an afternoon stroll with God.
If we are reluctant to have a “one-on-one” conversation with our Creator, or with His Son, it is often due to similar thinking on our part. When we are “good”, we are eager to be in His presence–praising, worshiping and conversing. When we are “bad”, we usually are not so eager to seek Him out, nor do we really want to think about the fact that we are always with Him because of the presence of His Holy Spirit in us.
Our Great God, the “Ancient of Days” (don’t you love it?) had no beginning, is everywhere-present and is all-knowing. When God came to the Garden of Eden that day, He already knew full well what had happened. When He called, “Where are you?”, He wasn’t really hunting Adam and Eve. He called to them knowing where they were in hiding and why. God had walked and talked with Adam on many previous occasions “in the cool of the day.” (I couldn’t resist again.) But this day’s walk would be like no other before.
The fellowship had been broken. Adam had placed another god before his Creator. He had listened to and believed his enemy and had placed himself on the throne; in charge of his own life. There would be no more walks in the garden; no more close communion of God with Man, with few exceptions, until Jesus came. Man would have no chance for true intimacy with God until the second Adam, Jesus, came and made it possible for Man to have a restored relationship with Him.
Now that Jesus has come; now that we have accepted his sacrifice as payment for our sin condition; now that we have accepted Him as Savior and Lord, and now that we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God Himself, our relationship with Him has been restored. We are the prodigal son and our Father has welcomed us back into the family. We have Jesus’ promise that He will never forsake us nor leave us again. Yes, we have a restored relationship, but we may not be having true fellowship with Him unless we are sincerely seeking it.
Before Jesus went to the cross, He drew aside in yet another garden to deal with some serious issues with the Father.
“And they came to an olive grove called Gethsemane, and Jesus said, ‘Sit here while I go and pray.’ He took Peter, James, and John with him. He told them, ‘My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and watch with me.’ He went on a little farther and fell face down on the ground. He prayed that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by. ‘Abba, Father,’ he said, ‘everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will, not mine.’ Then he returned and found the disciples asleep. ‘Simon!’ he said to Peter. ‘Are you asleep? Couldn’t you stay awake and watch with me even one hour?'” (Mark 14:32-37 NLT)
Even those closest around Him were not concerned enough to be in intimate conversation with both Jesus and God as issues of eternal importance were raised. Peter, James, and John had the opportunity to witness and perhaps to partner in prayer with Jesus in His anguish. But they slept.
You and I can return to the “garden”.
We can pause during the day, draw apart, and have fellowship with the Lord. We can walk with our heavenly Father in the (yes,) “cool of the day”, which can be anytime we make a decision of our will to set time aside for communion with Him.
You and I, like Peter, James, and John after the Pentecost, have the opportunity to walk with our Heavenly Father–with the Almighty Creator of the universe; our God, who is also our Jesus, our brother (“He who has seen me has seen the Father”).
Reading the words of a man named A.W. Tozer, I was introduced to a concept called “Spiritual Aloneness”. He wrote in his book Of God and Men, “Retire from the world each day to some private spot. Stay in the secret place til the surrounding noises begin to fade out of your heart, and a sense of God’s presence envelopes you. Listen for the inward voice until you learn to recognize it.”
Tozer, of course, is talking about retiring from the world, listening, sitting still, and being silent until you begin to recognize the voice of God in your mind and heart and all other noises are shut out. I’m reminded of Psalm 37:7, “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him…”. Psalm 4:4 says, “Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still.”
There’s a song by–who else: Watermark–called The Purest Place. It expresses the desire of one to draw near and stay near the Lord and the request of Him to “do what it takes to keep me here in the center of Your heart”. I won’t write the lyrics to the entire song but make reference to only one line which struck me: “The purest place is You, my King.”
Think about that. One of the attributes of our Creator is that He is everywhere-present. He is not IN some place; He IS the place! His name is “I AM”. If you will, I’d suggest that you pause a moment and consider that. God is in you and you are in God. Take just a moment to experience Him right now.
The song that brought about all of this letter to me was not a song by Watermark, or even another great contemporary Christian song. This song was written in 1913 by a man named C. Austin Miles:
“I come to the garden alone,
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses
And He walks with me and He talks with me
And He tells me I am His own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known.
He speaks, and the sound of His voice
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing
I’d stay in the garden with Him
Though the night around me be falling
But He bids me go; through the voice of woe
His voice to me is calling”
Look at the first verse. The word disclose means to open up or expose to view. In Jesus, the Son of God, the Father is disclosed to us. (Remember, “he who has seen Me…”?) God reveals His being and His nature to us when we are “in Him.”
In the third verse, I reluctantly leave His side. He bids me go because I must return to the active life. Through the voice of woe–the grief, regret, and sorrow to which I am subject in the world, I hear Him calling to me. Though the night is falling, He remains with me.
And finally, in the refrain is the word tarry.
Tarry. Such a great word. It isn’t used much now and hasn’t been for many years. It means: to linger in expectation; to abide or stay at a place.
You know how it was when you were dating a special someone, or how it is when you are with friends and family. The day is over; it’s time to go home. And yet, you “tarry”. You slowly say your goodbyes, maybe even while making your way to the door; how you continue talking until you reluctantly say final goodbyes and leave.
How much more so is it with our fellowship with our Heavenly Father? We long for it to go on forever, knowing that it cannot in this life, but that we will have communion that has no end when Jesus returns.
Just as Mary discovered the right thing to do was to sit at the feet of Jesus when she had the chance instead of scurrying around as her sister, Martha, did, we can also take a few moments to be in His presence in the midst of our “scurrying.”
We would all do well to remember what Jesus said to Mary’s “busy” sister, “‘My dear Martha, you are so upset over all these details! There is really only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it–and I won’t take it away from her.'” (Luke 10)
Martha was busy, tired and upset. Sometimes, so are we. But we are told:
“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)
God loves us more than we can imagine. He longs to spend time with you. Find that secret place; that purest place and remember, “He that dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”
Tarry awhile with Him in the garden each day.