Back to the Garden

I haven’t written a post on this blog for almost a month.

I don’t want to go into too much detail, but some health problems have made it difficult for me to focus and write.  It’s been a trial.  Frankly, it’s been depressing at times.  I have so many cool things I want to share.  But I’m realizing something valuable through this process.

In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul experienced a “thorn in the flesh.”  We don’t know exactly what it was, but it’s clear that God allowed him to suffer this thorn because he had received great truth and wisdom from God.  The Father, in His mercy, used this thorn to keep Paul humble.

Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.  And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Paul didn’t like suffering, just like I don’t like suffering.  And while I don’t claim to have a level of revelation from God anywhere near the level Paul did, I still struggle with thinking somehow God’s work through me has something to do with me.  This weakness I feel, this health problem I face, has reduced me to a level where I’m totally dependent on God’s grace.

And like Paul, I’m realizing that suffering isn’t a curse, it’s a blessing.  If it get’s me out of the way, then suffering is the best thing that could possibly happen to me.  But it goes far beyond just being thankful for suffering.

In the Garden of Eden, God’s intention for man was to walk in communion with Him, totally dependent upon Him.  My friend Jeremiah Beck shared something with me the other night that I think is profound.  He reminded me that part of the punishment for man’s sin was independence.  God said  “From now on, you’re on your own.  You work for what you get.  It’s by the sweat of your brow that you’ll survive.”

Did you hear that?

Independence and self-reliance is punishment.  I know that sounds like heresy in a culture that idolizes the self-made man and lauds those who pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

When Christ uttered the words “It is finished” on the cross, he made it possible for me to return to the garden.  The separation from God was finished.  My estrangement from the Father was finished.  My need to strive and work and sweat to survive was finished.  Yet, in spite of this work of total redemption, of Christ returning me to the communion of the Garden, I am often tempted to think it still all depends on me.  It’s a habit that I find exceptionally hard to break.

The Apostle Paul struggled with it, you struggle with it, and I certainly struggle with it.  That lure of myself, of thinking I’m still on my own.  The temptation to think I have something to do with God’s work in me.

And if it takes sickness or hardship or loss to pull me kicking and screaming back to that place of total dependence upon God, then I should be grateful for it.

Every pain, every moment of frustration is getting me a step closer to the Garden.

And in the end, that’s where I really want to be.

  1. #1 by Rick Healy on November 15, 2011 - 6:11 AM

    Thanks Dave, I needed this today!!!

  2. #3 by Lee on November 15, 2011 - 9:45 AM

    Brother…I continue to lift you up in prayer. In my short time on this earth I’ve learned that the “why?” question is often very quiet reflected in my frustration and evidence more loudly in my anger many times with others. I stronly believe His grace and love can handle both of those. However I think He is moving me, lovely to the “What?” question. What is it you want me to understand, learn, develop in my sensitivities to others. The “What?” question is one that others can push your toward, you are only ready for that in His timing. We all face it but we face it quietly before Him. Take comfort in knowing you are not alone, Paul was there, I have been there, others are on the same journey, but that journey will end someday with the “Why?” question being answered by Him to you, in His presence. We all “groan” in this life, but in the end He alone will return the smile and yes even the dancing as we understand His plan and reward for we have gone through in this “blink of an eyes” life.

    Love you my friend!

    • #4 by Dave Kirby on November 15, 2011 - 11:28 AM

      Thanks man. I hope to get to the point of not asking “why?” or “what?” but simply “thanks!”

  3. #5 by Danette Kettwich on November 15, 2011 - 3:26 PM

    When God speaks we need to listen and this spoke to me today… it is equally ironic that this is the words God gave me this morning after hearing of a quote that Thomas Edison made after he lost his factory to aThomas Edison’s fire

    There’s value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God, we can start anew. ~ Thomas Edison

    The Ash Heap
    Danette Kettwich

    Sitting amongst the ash heap
    Lord I find you there
    Disaster all around me
    I have hope in earnest prayer

    Sitting amongst the ash heap
    I find strength in you
    No matter what becomes
    I know you will see me through

    When I’ve lost it all in life
    I can start anew
    Not in my own power
    It’s all in what You will do!

    Sitting on the ground broken
    Ashes in my hair
    I’m closer to the ground
    And I know I find you there

    Lord, If this is what it takes
    For my heart to seize
    Permit the trials come
    Lead me down onto my knees

    God Bless you!
    We serve an awesome God!!!

    • #6 by Dave Kirby on November 15, 2011 - 3:32 PM

      I love the quote from Edison, and love your poem as well. Thanks for sharing it!

  4. #7 by Luke on November 15, 2011 - 7:20 PM

    Wow, this was a bang on post for my day. God bless, Luke

  5. #9 by Jim Smith on November 16, 2011 - 4:12 PM

    Thanks, Dave: I don’t know which I hate more sometimes: reading the truths that you share or facing myself with the truth. Apparently my independence is still in the way. God bless you for a speedy and complete recovery from whatever ails you.

    • #10 by Dave Kirby on November 17, 2011 - 9:11 PM

      The good news is that we’re facing the truth together my brother. Praying for your family right now.

  6. #11 by Lorraine on November 17, 2011 - 8:44 PM

    Hi Dave, I’m back 😉

    “…The temptation to think I have something to do with God’s work in me…”

    We have such a need to see ourselves as important don’t we!? Well, I admit to joining in on the struggle. I’ve been working through giving this up – for various reasons – but mostly because after almost 50 years, I’m seeing that my strivings and girations are getting me no where. I need to rest in His Hands, and live completely unto God. “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21

    from a recent newsletter for His Hill Torchbearer’s school, written by Charlie McCall: “…our souls pant for the activity of God. Our soulds lust for being used by God instead of longing to know God who has graced us with His constant indwelling presence…God loves me, He is willing to use me, but He doesn’t need me…. the Christian is the most blessed person on earth simply becaue he is in relationship with God who creaded this universe. If you have put your faith in Christ alone for salvation, Christ is in you! You have Him. He is your life. Life is not being used by Christ. Life is Christ. Rejoice …in the bounty of having been given God Himself! How could you have received anything more? You need nothing else.”

    What more can I say? I guess the LORD is speaking to many of us in the same way at this time. The Lord bless and keep you in this rich time of learning, my brother.
    In His service,

    • #12 by Dave Kirby on November 17, 2011 - 9:10 PM

      “Life is not being used by Christ. Life is Christ”. I love that quote! Reminds me of something I often say: God cares far more about what He does IN you than what you do FOR Him.

      Welcome back. 🙂

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