Imagine this with me: You are standing in a beautiful garden that stretches as far as you can see – there is no end in sight. Trees, with their roots deep in the ground, line up one after another. Plants, green with life, spring up under them while flowers of every colour demand your attention and marvel. You can feel the warmth of the sun on your arms and the aroma of fresh flowers floods your nostrils. You gaze across the garden and notice that there are several deer on a nearby hill. They are drinking from a river that winds through the entire garden. Just below their lapping mouths, you see fish – yellow and red, small and large swimming to the river’s tide. Your eyes drift upward and see that the clear blue sky above the river holds birds of every colour and kind. As they soar across the sky, you realize that the only sounds you hear are those of the river and the birds. There is no one around you and yet, you feel at peace – welcomed, even – in this garden that seems to hold no bad thing.
I am often overcome with emotion when I read the first three chapters of Genesis. The description of the Garden of Eden brings me to my knees in reverence to a God who not only created the universe in all of its vast array, but who considers me worthy to dwell in such beauty. Genesis 2:8 tells us that the Lord God, himself, planted the Garden of Eden and that once he had planted it, he put man there. In other words, God created a space that was fitting for man to dwell – a space full of beauty and peace. We read over and over again in these chapters that God saw that what he had created was good. The beauty and the stillness of the garden were good. It was the very best dwelling place for man to be. God knew that man needed a place of stillness and peace in order to thrive. Furthermore, Genesis 3:8 tells that us that the Lord God, himself, walked in the garden. He did not place man there to be alone, but rather, dwelled with him there. God, himself, can be found in the stillness, in the peace, in the beauty of the garden.
I don’t know about you, but the words peaceful, still and beautiful would not be the same words that I use to describe my life these days. In fact, they wouldn’t even be in the top one hundred. My husband works two jobs while I stay home to raise our two beautiful daughters, both under the age of two. We are part of an active church community and volunteer regularly, and attend frequent gatherings with family and friends. Just a few weeks ago, to add to the chaos, we decided it would be an appropriate time to add a dog to our family. In other words, we are busy. We live active lives and we are busy from the time that we wake up to the moment our heads hit the pillow at the end of the day. This is not too different from most people. I would argue that many people (moms especially) stretch themselves to maximum capacity in order to get things done and take care of those whom they love.
The problem, however, is not the busyness. The problem is when the chaos becomes overwhelming. The problem is when the wiping of noses and the number of timeouts and temper tantrums before breakfast leaves us feeling tired, beaten down, and exhausted. The problem is when you feel that you can’t find beauty in the chaos. The problem is when you can’t hear God’s voice amidst the crying of the babies, or the busyness of your schedule.
If this sounds at all like your life lately, I want to encourage you to spend time in the garden. Set aside time and space to dwell in the stillness. If the very place that God created for man to dwell was one of peace and stillness, isn’t it worth considering that this might be something that we need today? And here’s the thing: We needed it then and we need it now. When we intentionally create a space for stillness, we enter into the peace that only He can provide. This space provides us the opportunity to dwell in relationship with the One who created us and who knows our need for quiet. How can we not fall to our knees in earnest thanks to the One who welcomes us into the stillness, who calls for us there when we hide from him (Genesis 3:9)? There is beauty in the chaos and you will find it when you spend time in the garden.