We had such a positive response to last week’s Langstaff Letter on Guns that we are happily presenting the second part of Mitchel Plaisted’s article entitled” Garden to Graves.” It is good to get the opinion of a millennial.
GARDEN TO GRAVES – PART 2
By Mitchel A. Plaisted
Note – As with Part 1, this article was written immediately after the shooting in Texas and therefore does not make reference to the events of the last few weeks.
If we look at verses 8-9 and 15-17 of Genesis 2, we find the following words:
“8 And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. 9 And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (biblegateway.com).
In the beginning, God placed man in a garden. God did not put man in the wild. The garden was intentionally crafted by God. From this, we can surmise that God created man to function in a garden. The garden had priorities because “out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.” The garden had rules, for example, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” The garden provided man with things to put his hands to, for “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” The garden provided man with a system in which to live. It was his home. It was his place of work. It was where he lived his life. The garden was the true way.
The Garden was the way God intended for us to live. However, the garden was rejected. Man broke the rules of the garden, rejected the home, the work, and the system God had provided, and in doing so, rejected even God Himself. The results of this were many, but the primary thought I will point to today is that Man was now headed for the grave. It was his choice and his fault. He had rejected the garden that was given to him, and in its place, he had fashioned his own grave.
WE STILL NEED A GARDEN
At this point, I want to clarify that I do not intend to merely point out that original sin exists. What I desire to express is much more connected to the tragedy that occurred in Uvalde.
You see, although we live in a fallen world, man’s needs are still the same as when he was created. Yes, we ultimately need a relationship with our Creator. Praise the Lord that Jesus came and willingly laid his life down that we might have that once again. But if I might, please allow me to look at the day-to-day things, the earthly things, for a moment. You see, I believe man needs the same things God provided him with through the garden back in the beginning. A place to call home, work to set his hands to, and ultimately a reason to get up in the morning. Theologians will be quick to say, ‘Is not God our reason to live,’ and while that is quite true, is it not also true that we generally require some earthly manifestation of our ‘reason to live’ for our earthly lives to seem worthwhile. In short, my point is that God created us to exist in a structure and have responsibilities and purpose. In other words, we were created to be in a garden.
FOR THOSE WHO HAVE ENCOUNTERED THE GRAVE
What precisely does our need for a garden have to do with Uvalde? For the parents of the children who were killed, the children themselves were a big part of their garden. They spent a great deal of time tending to them and loving them. To have them pulled away is not only to lose one’s child but also a part of oneself.
There really are no words that can quell such grief. We know that when man rejected the original garden, the grave became a reality for us. We can say that the reason our Lord tarries in His coming to set all things right is so that more might have the opportunity to know Him. But at the end of the day, there are 21 more graves in Texas today, and for those standing beside them, there are no words to answer the questions “why their loved one?” and “why so soon?”
I honestly cannot fathom what it must be like for those who lost children or loved ones in this tragedy. All I can do is point to the only one who can fathom. Look to Jesus even if everything makes no sense. He is enough.
WHAT WAS THE CAUSE?
As was discussed on Part 1, adding or subtracting guns will not solve the issue because the gun is not the issue; rather, the problem is one of a culture that has lost any connection to reality.
It should not surprise us that any plan we make will not solve the problem. For when man rejected the garden God placed him in. He was seeking to be like God and know good and evil. He rejected the system God had placed him in and attempted to make his own but to reject God is to embrace the grave.
Are we helping our young people to choose the garden? Are we helping them choose God’s plan? Today, children are not taught the truths found in scripture that used to hold this country together and were necessary for it to function (theblaze.com). In the place of the truth, they are taught the most ridiculous things, including that they can be another gender or even species (youtube.com). We see that mental illness is an issue in our country (nimh.nih.gov), and some may wonder why, but as believers, we have the answer. We know that God created us to follow Him. As the country abandons Him and rejects His truth for their own, they abandon the possibility of living in a garden, a structure of truth, a place where we can find true purpose following our Lord (news.gallup.com). We are rejecting Him, and as we do so, we see our society veer ever more towards the grave. Guns or no guns, people are going to do evil things.
With that in mind, let us not abandon our traditions but rather seek to continue them. Let’s not try to remake church into a form that we think young people will like but rather call them to join in the worship of the Great I Am. God is the answer. Yes, He has priorities. Yes, He has rules. Yes, you must surrender to Him and make Him not only your Savior but your Lord. However, this is the way to find purpose! This is the way to do work that will make a difference! Let us not marvel at the evil of the grave but rather call ourselves to the garden. Chose the Lord! Chose reality! Chose Truth! That should be our call. That should be our response to those who are lost and unable to find their way.
Yes, the world we live in is fallen and reserved for fire, but we can still make a difference. We need to surround the young men who commit these terrible acts of violence with a culture that guides them into the will of God. We need to give them a reason and a purpose that is true, and God is the only truth. We must give them every chance to choose the garden over the grave.
We cannot just speak, though. Jesus spoke, but He also lived. Likewise, if we are to avoid hypocrisy, we must follow our Lord. The church has failed to reach the younger generations with a genuine message, and that will not change if, as we are telling them about how great it is to live in the garden provided by our Lord, they see all the weeds and other stuff we let in that is not from Him. We need to clean house! We need to wake up! We need to do the work of the Lord! Living in the garden is to live a life of purpose and meaning. To live in the garden is to trade your life for the life of Christ, and He is the only way not to get stuck in the grave. Chose Jesus! Choose the garden! That is what we must do as a nation; however, we must first do it as individuals!
CLOSING WORD FROM PASTOR ALAN
As I stated in a previous Langstaff Letter, we need to realize that we live in a fallen world that includes not only the sin of all of us but the presence of evil in the hearts of some who would embark on tragedies such as what has happened just recently in Texas.Laws will not change that.
We need to continue to pray for the families who suffered loss as well as the community which is living in shock and grief. We need to pray for God’s protection on our own families, knowing that the devil comes to “kill, steal, and destroy” (See John 10:10).
We need to realize that we will never see the world that we dream of, where these kinds of things do not happen. It will not happen until Jesus returns to set up his kingdom here on Earth.
God have mercy on us. “Thy Kingdom come, They will be done on Earth as it is in heaven” (See Luke 11 and Mark 6).
Oh my goodness Mitchel! I have good tears running down my cheeks. Why? I think because the way this was written, your usage of words, Your passion for your King Jesus, your realization of Truth, has touched my heart deeply. I am still basking in the afterglow of having the joy of knowing your Dad and Mom and Grandpa and Grandma at ACTS and Antioch Christian Fellowship. Oh, the wonderful stories stored in my heart and mind! [Grin]
Keep writing Mitchel. Be encouraged, God speed, and, Shalom!
Thanks for a remarkable and balanced reality of the garden and the grave. This speaks without even much mentioning the contentious issues surrounding us.
Powerful writings and insight into eating from the tree of Life not the fruit of the knowledge of Good and evil. Bless you Rev Alan, you are bearing fruit of such eternal value in your older years.