The garden must have been gorgeous.

Nancy and I walked through a wildlife refuge in south Texas recently. The Spanish moss hanging from the trees. The flowers beginning to come on some of the trees.  The variety of ducks. And in the backyard of our friends, birds that I know and that I don’t.

In September, we were in northern Michigan, looking at the sunset, looking at the rocks, looking at the trees. I can’t even describe the beauty of each place, and the differences between the two, in ways that make sense, so I simply make the observation:

The garden must have been gorgeous.

And the invitation was to enjoy the beauty, to care for it and treasure it and delight in it.

I mention that because our texts for the first Sunday in Lent talk about temptation and responses, both giving in and gaining victory. When we talk about temptation, we often speak of the false beauty of the offer. My own example is that sin is like antifreeze, sweet to taste but deadly.

The downside of this approach is that we begin to think about the dreariness of obedience in contrast to the bright lights of evil.

“Choose the boring” is what we think the call of God is.

“Choose the miserable” is what we think the way of Jesus is.

“Choose the hard way” is what we think the most spiritual way is.

So when we are experiencing pain, we sometimes think that it means that God wants us to suffer for some greater good.

Which is why I say, the garden must have been gorgeous.

When God spoke to humans, the message was simple. Enjoy the bounty of the garden.

And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden.”

Not the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But all the rest of the trees. And bushes and berries. All of them. Any of them.

The word from God was against that one tree, but for everything else.


Reflecting on the readings for the first Sunday in Lent: Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7, Romans 5:12-19, and Matthew 4:1-11. There’s more tomorrow.

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