There was order in the Garden. Everyone had an assignment. Work was part of the creation story. Adam was to tend the garden, with Eve’s help of course. The ground wasn’t cursed so work was a joy. Imagine that! Joy at work.
The word joy is not often associated with work. But with no sin in the picture – or anxiety over deadlines or HR issues constantly surfacing – life was good. Very good, in fact.
Unfortunately, in our current disposition far too often we attach our identity to that work. We seek happiness and contentment in what we do during an 8-hour day, 5 days a week or more. It defines us, and we expect validation in that place. It becomes the most important part of our lives at the expense of all else. We seek the accolades of others instead of our Creator God. A consequence of the fall for sure, as others’ opinions help shape a false internal narrative around our identity.
Pascal puts it like this, “we do not content ourselves with the life we have in ourselves and in our own being; we desire to live an imaginary life in the mind of others, and for this purpose we endeavor to shine. We labour unceasingly to adorn and preserve this imaginary existence, and neglect the real. And if we possess calmness, or generosity, or truthfulness, we are eager to make it known, so as to attach these virtues to that imaginary existence…. We are so presumptuous that we would wish to be known by all of the world, even by people who shall come after, when we shall be no more; and we are so vain that the esteem of five or six neighbours delights and contents us.”[i]
The imaginary existence Pascal speaks of IS the false self. Yet, this was not the experience of man and woman in the Garden. They walked and talked with God daily, working and living contently in the wholeness of a sin-free life. Nothing was covering the true self, thus they were truly free.
They did so 7 days per week. God set it up that way, right from the beginning. Yet it seemed naming animals and tending the garden required a bit of rest. On the 7th day they did so, right along with God. Well, at least it looked that way, yet without sin tiredness may not have been a construct in the way we understand it today.
When sin entered the picture all we had to look forward to was a new Eden. The same restoration was promised in Revelation after accepting the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We may then return to the Garden in God’s eyes, even while still on earth.
Think about that. Did you ever feel, just for a moment, like you were standing in the Garden?
And that’s the memo – an excerpt from our upcoming book Embracing Brokenness
[i] Blaise Pascal, Pensées (Thoughts), pgs. 44-45.