Monday, September 1, 2008

Longing for Eden

When I'm on vacation, after a while, I long for home. When I've been home for a while, I long for a vacation. Why is it that we always want what we don't have?

I have always thought of myself as an idealist. My expectations are so high, and I hold strongly to a picture in my head of what kind of wife and mother I want to be and what I want for my children. But in our studies last week, we read about the longing within God's children to return to Eden. Since He created us for Eden, we have been longing for the perfect beauty and communion with our Creator since the fall.

In the craziness of a vacation, I searched out a mothers' nursing station at the amusement park this past weekend. With kids screaming and music blasting I reached the country porch of the "baby depot" area in the park. The pretty wreath on the door of the little log cabin was a preview of the peace and serenity I would find inside. Once I stepped in, the noisy sounds of the rides and people faded as I heard the sweet calming music playing in the room. It was decorated with antique and classic toys, classic children's picture books, and wicker and wood furniture, mostly rocking chairs. There wasn't another soul in sight. There was just peace and quiet and a beautiful atmosphere. It was like I had stepped from one world into another. For the solitude-loving, atmosphere-craving person that I am this was a very welcoming contrast to the action-packed amusement park. The hills and heat from outside made sitting in a rocking chair in an air conditioned room a respite for my tired feet and overheated body. And now to top it all off, I got to spend some quiet moments focused on my babbling and cooing little dumpling, Tessa. It's so much easier to appreciate those sweet blue eyes and dimpled smile away from the hectic crowd. I had found an Eden in the middle of a theme park. I suppose to some, my kids in particular, the rides and loud music would be Eden. But this oasis of peacefulness and quiet was a haven to me. It made me long for my quiet place at home; it made me long for beauty and calm; it made me long to be engulfed in a heavenly peace.

I will continue to try to create spaces in my life that are filled with lovely things. I will continue to "create" my own type of Eden. I will try to seek God in quiet moments, play beautiful music, read inspiring books, and make my home a haven. I will keep my high ideals and strive for the perfect homeschooling day, the perfect reaction to every sibling squabble, the perfect words to say when those teachable moments arise, the perfect smiles for my husband, the perfectly clean and ordered home, the perfect cooking and baking of healthy life-giving foods, etc. These are ideals, not reality. But now I understand why my ideals are so high, and not necessarily realistic. My ideals should be very high! The Creator of the universe has placed within me a longing for perfect communion and beauty!

I fail again and again. I fall so short. I sometimes find myself frustrated at my reactions to the children's bickering. Many days I forget to thank my husband for the hard work he does to provide for us. I don't bake my own bread and don't always make our meals from scratch. I understand so well what Paul said in Romans...

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:15-25)

I find myself struggling the way that all men have struggled and will until the Lord returns. I long for Eden. I strive toward high ideals. I fail, but do not lose hope. I am thankful that through my Lord and His Spirit, I am rescued from failure. I remain an idealist and keep my longings close. And I allow His grace to cover my imperfections. Thanks be to God for His shed blood that provides the redemption and mercy I need to be the wife and mother He has made me to long to be. Thank you, God, for placing within me a longing to be with You and like You!

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