It All Began in the Garden

And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. 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. Genesis 2: 8-9, 15 ESV

So, it all began in a garden. God placed man there and gave him a job – “work it and keep it.” Now this is before the fall, before sin entered the garden. I think it is of utmost significance that God placed his highest form of creation – human beings – in a garden and also gave them work – a purpose.

Purpose – such a powerful word. A definition of purpose is “the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.” Having a purpose gives meaning to our existence. God created us with this need for a purpose – and he had work for humans to do right from the beginning.

I realize not everyone gets the fulfillment I get from working in my garden. It renews and feeds my soul in so many ways. But I do know that a part of our being as humans is restored and renewed when we are outside in nature. An English professor, Dr. Mae Claxton, told me recently about some of her university students engaging in a service project that involved working in the Community Garden. She mentioned that some were not too excited about gardening, but afterwards expressed surprise with how “relaxing” and “renewing” it had been for them to get in the dirt and weed. They made a connection with nature working in the garden that they hadn’t made before.

Could it just be that the experience of tending a garden takes us back to that plan God had for us in the beginning?

Maybe, but regardless, I sense that I am tending God’s creation when I weed, trim, mulch and water. Each plant that grows and blooms is the fruit of that labor. It also brings joy to share flowers and plants with others. The variety of color, texture, form, shape, and smell blesses me. How wonderful that our Father, Creator of the Universe, gave us work that results in such beauty. My husband, Phil, could write about vegetable gardening in much the same way with the end result of food that tastes delicious. That food nourishes our physical bodies and allows us to share with others.

It all began in a garden and the blessing of communing with God continues in gardens all over the earth.

Cracked Pots

It has been one of those weeks where I have been hit with the same message from three different sources. You think I better pay attention?!!

#1      My Honors Art III class is working on pottery. They are making ceramic pots and learning the properties and limitations of clay. I tell them clay is very forgiving, you can mold, re-mold, and even crush it and start all over again. Yet once you commit to a shape or design, you must follow certain rules to ensure successful completion of your project. Last week two students didn’t follow the “rule of thumb”. This rule states that no part of the form can be thicker than your thumb without providing a vent to let trapped air escape. Two students added clay to their pottery while forming and created areas that were thicker than their thumbs. Both of these pots blew up in the kiln while firing. These two students had been very successful making pottery that has been entered in several art shows, yet they had become a bit complacent and thought they knew what they were doing. Message for me – God is very patient, forgiving, and gentle. Yet at some point I am held accountable for following His Word. Past accomplishments aside – I must walk with God faithfully each day so I don’t become a “cracked pot.” 

#2       We attended a Sunday service with our two daughters and their families yesterday. There was a potter’s wheel in the foyer of the church building as we entered, with a bisque fired (first firing) pot from which part of the bottom was blown off.  The pastor preached from Jeremiah 18:1-12  on “In the Potter’s Hand”. The part of his message which spoke to me was in verses 1-4.

18:1  This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” 3 So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. 4 But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.

Pastor Thompson stated that God is the potter, we are the clay. He shared something I teach my students  – 75% of successful pottery is in the preparation of the clay. Message for me – God is at work forming me  – and every time I resist His effort, I make it harder on myself because God has to “re-shape and re-mold” me. Otherwise I will be a cracked pot.

# 3   The calligraphy calendar my sister-in-law Renee’ gave me has this verse for October 2nd  –

                            Isaiah 64:8    Yet you, Lord, are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
we are all the work of your hand.  
Message for me – as a loving Father, God wants the best for me. God does not form cracked pots.

As I have reflected on the three ways that I have been confronted with the reality of God at work  – creating me to be the vessel He wants so I can accomplish the purpose He has for me – I am reminded of God’s unconditional love for me.

God doesn’t give up, as I have been known to do when a piece of pottery isn’t formed the way I want. As our Father, God will continue working on us until we become the unique vessel, the work of His hands, that He planned. Then we will be able to pour out His Glory!