Between Two Gardens

Before you get excited and hope that I’m doing a spring gardening blog post, just stop and realize that the last two times I’ve tried to grow squash, I’ve been defeated the mighty army of squash beetles. Nope. This is not a post about gardening. But it is about life between two gardens. Can’t wait to tell you what that even means!

I know in the last few months, this site has been full of my ponderings, observations, and general meanderings through my Holy Land experiences. On first glance, you might think I’ve gotten away from what this site is about — my sisters and me in study. But I ask, what is it to study? My first response to my own question is to learn, of course.

And learn I did! That trip to the Holy Land was so much about learning that it took me months to synthesize it all before I could get it to the state of being publishable. That trip was a steep learning curve of Palestinian history and culture, of Holy Land history and architecture, and of political tensions that have so many facets and nuances that I still don’t pretend to understand it.

Now that I’ve clicked “publish” on each of the nine Holy Land articles, I’m ready to start processing some of the great Bible studies and books I’ve been reading.

It’s been a long while since I’ve done a post on a specific study — maybe since Epic of Eden. So maybe the place to start is to do a big picture synthesis of what I’ve been discovering.

Epic of Eden has been the rare book/study that sticks with me long after I’m finished. Most studies have one or two main points that help shape or alter me or even expand my understanding of self, God, or world. But Epic of Eden continues to move in and out of my thoughts and conversations…maybe I’m still processing!

Living between two gardens — the concept of living between the days of the original garden, Eden, where all of creation lived as it was meant to…in harmony and peace and perfection, and the final garden, the one that will fill the living, thriving spaces of the New Heaven and the New Earth…in harmony and peace and perfection.

We live in the days between those two gardens that bookend all existence.

God’s creation was intended to live in close proximity and intimacy with Him — without shame or pain or all the BAD that seems to happen around us all the time. And life in these two gardens is life as God intended it!

Because we’re part of God’s creation, there is something within each of us that has a deep knowing every time something goes wrong (disease, death, destruction)… It just wasn’t meant to be like this.

It wasn’t!

A child dies, and we feel the pain of a life lost too soon.

War takes innocent lives, and we feel the heartache of how unfair life can be.

Cancer takes another unsuspecting victim, and we feel robbed and cheated of life with a loved one.

A spouse is unfaithful and wants out of the marriage, and we feel the depth of betrayal and loss.

It wasn’t meant to be like this.

It was not.

In Eden it wasn’t.

In Eden Restored it will not.

But in the meantime… In the meantime, we know we’ll face the hardships of life. But we also know there will be glimpses of beauty, flickerings of light, moments of sheer joy. And we cling to those, knowing and trusting that in the end, we’ll spend eternity with the One who will make it all right, all good, all perfect.

That’s living between the two gardens!

We know bad things will happen, but we live in the hope that even among all the bad, God will break through and bring us good.

That’s living between the two gardens!

It’s how, in the middle of a season where there has been so. much. loss. for so many around me that I also see God bringing much life. Literally. So many babies entering into the world that bring with them much hope and joy. In the midst of the bad, I’m gifted with glimpses of good.

Thank you, Lord, for that! Thank you for always offering us your gifts:

  • gifts of life amidst death,
  • gifts of peace in life’s storms,
  • gifts of laughter through tears,
  • gifts of redeeming love after years of grief,
  • gifts of refreshing rain in the desert,
  • gifts of promise even when we doubt,
  • gifts of love despite the loss,
  • gifts of friendship when we feel unlovable,
  • gifts of mercy…when we don’t deserve it,
  • Your gifts of grace when we need it most.

Friends, we live in the days between the two gardens. And while we might be tempted to question why all the bad happens in the world, we’re really better off with the perspective-changing advice from Sandra Richter — instead of asking why all the bad, be pleasantly surprised that there is any good in the world each time we get to see it.

And maybe we take that a step further — let’s be agents of that good!

Shifting my perspective,

Shelley Johnson


Published by Shelley Johnson

Follower of Christ, wife, mother of three, daughter, sister, friend. Seeker of ways to share the love I've found in Jesus with others.

One thought on “Between Two Gardens

  1. Shelley, I love this post!! It gives us a positive way at looking at life. And, the great news is when Eden is restored in the New Heaven and New Earth that slithering snake won’t be pestering us!!!

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