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Which Garden?
Thursday, June 1, 2017 by Sandi Banks

Which Garden? 
  Drawing near to God

Mmmm. Here we are, just the three of us—the Lord, my harp, and me—and the soothing sounds of the beloved hymn, In the Garden:

     “I come to the garden alone,
     While the dew is still on the roses.
                    And the voice I hear echoes in 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.”

The final notes lingered, hung suspended in air…then vanished…as I sat silently basking in the comforting beauty of this hymn, and the biblical truth of its message.

I was in awe, of our awesome God. That He would actually desire to have a close relationship with us.

Imagine! The God of the universe wants to ‘tarry there’ with us, to share His joy with us...to walk with us, talk with us, tell us we are His own!

It set me thinking. I pushed my harp stool back, took my Bible and opened it to the very first chapter of the very first book, Genesis.

There I found a garden where someone else had walked and talked with God: 

The Garden of Eden.

God had just created Adam and Eve.

          "In the image of God He created them… and God blessed them…”

 He desired close fellowship with them. It was His plan.

               “And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very Good." [Gen. 1:27,31]

But something happened in that garden.Our hearts sink as we read of their disobedience, the breaking of that sweet fellowship between God and man. We read on. [Gen. 3:8-10]

Words… First spoken by God to Adam:

"Where are you?"

Then words… Adam to God:

"I heard the sound of Thee in the garden, and I was afraid ...I hid myself."

Those last six words stung. How often have you and I struggled with being honest before God--afraid He would be disappointed with us, or give up on us, even disown us? So we’ve put up barriers, and tried to hide behind them.

How foolish to think that a silly "fig leaf" of denial or deception would be able to hide

our true feelings,

our failures,

our fears… from the God who created us!

He already knows what they are…and loves us anyway. 

Incredible. 

But wait -- there’s more! And it’s the best news of all. God did not leave us in that garden, with fallen man’s sin and hopelessness. When we flip over the pages of our Bibles to the New Testament, we find another garden:

The Garden of Gethsemane.

Another conversation took place there with God. It wasn’t man’s. It was the Son of Man’s:

"Father …not My will but Thine be done." [Luke 22:42]

And it was. And for reasons I will never fully understand, loving God redeemed sinful man--the miracle that was begun in the Garden of Gethsemane would restore the fellowship that was broken in the Garden of Eden.

In the Garden of Eden, Adam sinned and was afraid.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus knelt and prayed.
              And then He climbed Mount Calvary and laid down His life on that cross, for you, and for me.

In His garden, of Redeeming Love.

Dear friend, which garden are you, or I, walking in today? The garden of guilt and condemnation, or the garden of freedom and forgiveness?

Be encouraged.

The God of all hope is waiting for you to come---or come back—to Him.

Max Lucado explains,

     "A repentant heart is all He demands.

     Come out of the shadows! Be done with your hiding! 

     A repentant heart is enough to summon the Son of God Himself to walk through our walls of guilt and shame.

     He who forgave Peter stands ready to forgive the rest of us.

     All we have to do is [come] – come back.

      No wonder they call Him the Savior."

And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. - Ephesians 1:16

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