The Fertile Opportunity

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.

These are the generations
of the heavens and the earth when they were created,
in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.

When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground— then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

10 A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. 11 The name of the first is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. 13 The name of the second river is the Gihon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Cush. 14 And the name of the third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates. – Genesis 2:1-14

Seashell and its Shadow | Galveston, Texas | February 2021

I remember learning about the Fertile Crescent in high school. I recall that it was considered the cradle of civilization. It is located in the middle east, and is identified by the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. I might be able to draw some inferences about that. And I suspect that since those simpler days, there may have been other theories about the cradle of civilization and all that. 

In this account of God’s creation of the heavens and the earth the Tigris and Euphrates as well as the Pishon and Gihon Rivers are mentioned. There is little doubt about the location of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. And it is most likely that the Gihon River refers to the Nile River. The Gihon River is less clearly identified. But at the mouth of these four rivers was located a beautiful garden from which all civilization, life, and a Divine Drama unfolded. 

It is as though God was setting up the stage in Genesis 1. He then rests. And then he lets the drama begin. It is difficult for me not to rush ahead with further details of the drama. There are so many twists and turns in its plot. What seems at once to be the ideal setting soon becomes a place of rebellion and shame. What begins as a family story of two brothers quickly becomes a murder non-mystery. Giants roam the earth. Evil worsens. God saves 8 people and sets a rainbow in the sky. And this is just the first 9 chapters of this incredible book!

Look with me now at the opening verses of this chapter. God is resting. He is finished with creation. All is very good. He has accomplished his first task. I wonder why God rested. I’m guessing he was not tired – at least in the sense that I get tired after a day of labor. I’m guessing he wasn’t trying to catch his breath. Nor was he, I think, pondering his next move. It seems to me that God is confirming and establishing the rhythm of evening and morning, and work and rest. As a side note, it is interesting to me that Adam and Eve’s first day of life would have been a day of rest. 

I’ve spent much of my life “running to a rest.” I even commented on that to a friend several years ago. I go, go, go, until I drop. And to some extent these early days of retirement are much the same. I feel a bit like I’ve run a marathon over the last 40 years. I’m thankful to hand the baton to the new senior pastor at St. John. I’m thankful that I don’t have to prepare for meetings, get up before 5 AM on Sunday mornings, or attend to the business aspects that used to accompany my calling.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m still a Jesus follower. I still am called to love my neighbor. I still pray for my friends and family, my brothers and sisters in Christ, and the Church throughout the world. Nor do I resent the challenges that went with the leadership opportunities I’ve had over the years. But, unlike God, I’m resting because I’m tired, and ready to enter a different chapter of life. 

But I still miss the opportunity to think of and plan for new series of messages and studies. I sometimes have a nagging feeling I’m missing a meeting or failing to plan for something that is my responsibility. And I really do look forward to the time in May when I will begin working part time for the Texas District of the LCMS. There are even potential opportunities for further work with PLI in Tanzania and Kenya. 

But for now, I’m taking a page from God’s book (literally!). I’m resting. And I’m resting in anticipation of new and more opportunities to serve and lead. My mission is to help people and churches discover Jesus’ plan and purpose. I want to prepare well for doing that. And so I rest in anticipation of the fertile opportunities God will lay before me in the coming years. 

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