By Cassie Downs,
You did it! You made it through another year. You’ve walked through good times, great times, and a few hard days. But you’re still here and still seeking God or you wouldn’t be reading this devotion. I am grateful you showed up today. That despite everything you’ve been through, both good, bad, and between, you showed up here today looking for encouragement for the year ahead. Thank you for trusting me to encourage you. I hope to do just that today.
As I have prayed about what the Lord wants me to share with you these past few weeks, He’s been faithful to deliver as usual. And faithful to remind me that this is for me too. This thought He gave to me is one I will carry through 2022 to remind me that WE are invited back to the garden.
Let’s rewind. All the way back to the beginning.
The Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he placed the man he had formed. The Lord God caused to grow out of the ground every tree pleasing in appearance and good for food, including the tree of life in the middle of the garden, as well as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. A river went out from Eden to water the garden. From there it divided and became the source of four rivers. — Genesis 2:8-10 (CSB)
When God created the world, He made a garden called Eden. Eden actually means pleasure or delight. And from all accounts of scripture, it seems to be a pretty fitting name for this garden. God thought of everything for Eden and He placed Adam and Eve in the garden to work and watch over this beautiful place of pleasure (Genesis 2:15). How lucky are they? How loved are they that God wanted them to be in the place that He was?
There are a few things to note about the garden of Eden. First, this was God’s dwelling place. He walked and talked with Adam and Eve, guiding them in the garden. He provided for them in the garden and He was their protection in the garden. But the garden wasn’t enough for Adam and Eve. The pleasures of God wouldn’t satisfy for long. They end up disobeying God’s one command, rejecting Him. They chased after pleasures that weren’t theirs to chase, right out of the garden of Eden. In their disobedience, it separated them from God. But God, in that moment, made a plan to build a bridge back to Him. Not because He had to. Because He wanted to. Because of the love He had for them and for me and for you. And it happened in a garden thousands of years later. The garden of Gethsemane.
Going a little farther, he fell facedown and prayed,“My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” — Matthew 26:39 (CSB)
It was then, the moment Jesus said to the father, if this is what it takes to bring them back to the garden — back to you, Father, then I’m in. And Jesus did just that. He paid the price for our sin on a cross, on a hill called Calvary. He didn’t think twice. He gave Himself up for the chance that you and I would turn to the Father. That we would stop chasing worldly pleasures, making our own way, and chase after God, His pleasures, and His ways. Even knowing that some would continue to reject Him and the Father, He died anyway. He bridged the gap separating us from God and now, because of Jesus; He welcomes us back into the garden. Into a relationship with a loving Father. Back to goodness, mercy, and grace. Back to His presence, provision, and protection.
I don’t know where you stand in your relationship with the Lord. Only you and He truly know that. But I believe if you are reading this today, He is inviting you to come in the garden. Back to His presence. To be where He is and to enjoy the pleasures He has for you. You’ve been away long enough. You’ve chased this or that long enough. You’ve depended on you long enough. Come back to the garden. He’s waiting for you. And I promise you, this is a resolution that won’t let you down.
Happy New Year.
Cassie Downs is a speaker and author of Chasing Jesus, a 60 day devotional, and founder of Everyday Jesus Ministry. Connect with Cassie on Facebook, Instagram, or online at cassiedowns.com. Her book is available online where most books are sold.