Living in God’s Creative Intention

from the Spring/Summer 2015 edition of Reflections magazine. For more from that issue, go here.

ninfa_garden_2

by the Rev. Carol Morehead and Dan Morehead

Once, a man and woman lived a life of abundance. Before them were the wonders of creation, important work, and regular communion with God and one another. But even in paradise, desire slithered in, and they slowly became uncertain and discontent with the bounty they knew.

Wanting replaced knowing; secrets replaced trust; anxiety and scarcity replaced satisfaction and plenty. They and their children began to live in a pattern of competition, anxiety, envy, jealousy, and uncertainty.

Today, we too feel this deep grinding rhythm of uncertainty, of lack and scarcity, of jealousy and consumption, of turning away from what we were given toward the disintegrating pattern of always wanting something we seldom really need. We fail to enjoy the abundance in which we were created.

What is abundance? Abundance is the spiritual recognition that we are repeatedly given far more than we could ever need, hope, or expect. Put this way, abundance is a rather straightforward idea. Yet it is ever so difficult to experience. While we know that we have far more than we need (both spiritually and physically), we don’t really notice it. Instead, we notice what we might lose, what we might not get in the future, and ways we can get what we want. In short, we spend far too much time fretting and worrying about not having enough and grasping for more than enough.

We are not alone in this fear and desire. Something drives the mad rush for wealth, status, and sex that we see everywhere around us. Something, perhaps, as old as human nature. Or so scripture might tell us in that quaint story of Adam and Eve in the garden. On the surface, it seems a simple, even naïve tale to explain the origins of human problems. Adam and Eve are placed in a garden, a beautiful garden which contains everything they need. They are coworkers and co-creators with God. All they have to do is be with God, be with each other, and do the work that God has given them to do.

Deceptively simple. Instead of being content and grateful, Adam and Eve focus on what they do not have: the fruit of the tree of knowledge, and the tree of life. Rather than wait with contentment for God’s time, Adam and Eve reach out and take more for themselves, losing the peace and contentment they do have.

In the end, their plight seems all too familiar: Having plenty but not enjoying it, being given so much but focusing on what they don’t have, trying to play God to get more. Ironically, the tale implies that God ultimately wants to give them the fruit of both trees. The tree of life appears again at the end of the biblical narrative, where “the leaves of that tree are for the healing of the nations” (Revelation 22:2). But, much like the rest of us, Adam and Eve cannot seem to wait patiently for God’s time and trust in the abundance that they already have. They cannot allow God to bless them in the natural course of events; they mess things up by trying to force what they want. And so it goes through the rest of Genesis: Abraham and Sarah try to force offspring out of God by shamefully using Hagar; Rebecca and Jacob cheat blind old Isaac to steal what God has already promised them, and so on.

We are not so different from the child-like Adam and Eve. We too forget that we are created to rest in the shelter of God’s love and care, content to enjoy God, each other, and our work. And whenever we stretch out our hands to take ‘more’ by force, we too lose the paradise we have been given. Ironically, that paradise still awaits us. All the love, all the goodness, all the joy for which we were created and could ever dream of has already been given to us. They await us in God, who stands ever ready. “Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee,” as Augustine of Hippo so famously said. To experience security and contentment, we do not need to do anything. Nor do we need to attain anything to receive God’s abundance – we already have it. God’s abundance lies at the deepest level of our created nature – it is our default position.

In the cool of the evening, God calls to us. All we have to do is let go our grasp and open our hands to receive. Ours is to accept the bounty of what has already been given. We have to slow down and enjoy that One Thing, without which we have nothing, and with which we possess everything.

carol morehead for webThe Rev. Carol Morehead is assistant rector at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, San Antonio. She graduated from Seminary of the Southwest in May 2013. Reach her at
cmorehead@stmarks-sa.org.

 

Daniel B Morehead MD webDaniel Morehead is a psychiatrist in private practice. He lives in San Antonio with his wife and 14-year-old son, where they attend St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. Reach him at
danielmoreheadmd@gmail.com.
______________________________________________

Wishing WellGo Deeper

Questions for Study and Reflection

1. What has God planted in your garden – people, job, family, health, sufficient money? Have you lost peace and contentment by wanting more?

2. Do you spend time fretting and worrying about what you don’t have rather than recognizing what you do have?

3. Read Genesis 1:26-31. Stop and enjoy that story for a while.  Imagine yourself in the garden before the serpent shows up. That’s the way it’s supposed to be.

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