So there they were, standing in the Garden God had created. Beautiful beyond what we could imagine. God had crafted and created them Himself, in His image. They were the first supporting actors in the epic story of time, in scene one, in the first chapters, in the first book of the BIG book of the BIG story that we are now a part of. Their names were Adam and Eve. And they were … naked.
“And the man and his wife were both naked and were not embarrassed or ashamed in each other’s presence.” ~ Genesis 2:25 (AMP)
I was pondering said true story while driving my minivan to get coffee after I dropped my boys off at school one morning. Then came the crazy thought, interrupting my sweet pondering, when my brain came to rest on the word “naked”.
I happen to be a Southern California girl who’s been a transplant to the “it-could-be-a-nation” lone star state of Texas for going on 15 years now. I still say, “y’all” like a valley girl, can’t believe when I say, “fixin’”. But man, do I love these Texans’ word for naked. Imagine for a moment a sweet southern women sitting across the table from you saying, “Oh Honey, ther’ they were, standing in that ther’ garden and they were … (In a nice long southern drawl with dramatic pause for effect) neeeked.”
Important detail to note. But why?
Because that’s how the following conversation started with God; in my minivan, in a southern accent, with the word … Neked.
My thought (the conversation starter) went like:
“NEKED?! Really, they were neked, God? Your original design for us was neked? That was Your plan before the apple fiasco (you know, the first conflict that gets this redemption story rolling). It seems really ethereal and beautiful when I’m imagining Ken-Adam and Barbie-Eve in the high budget Paramount film that premieres in my head. Not when I stop and think about me being, um, neked … outside … in a garden … OR … anywhere in public.”
I can only imagine God smiling at me with one of those half grins while He thinks, “Let’s see where she goes with this.”
Then I began thinking about how Jesus came to restore all things and reconcile them to the Kingdom of God, how he redeemed what had been lost or stolen in the greatest act of love of ALL time: His death on a cross in exchange for our lives. A single act that spanned and united eternity, visiting all that had gone before Him for three days in the grave; resurrecting to life, that every future generation may know it (life). Its significance shook the earth. Literally. In one moment of death all that was lost in the garden was … (a breathe of awe) … restored! Life and access to a kingdom now became available. Available to all, through the gate. Jesus.
I started telling the Holy Spirit, “Well, I’ve got to tell you … I’m so glad in all your restoring humanity to the garden business that’s too “wow” for my brain to conceive you didn’t restore us to having to be neked again!”
The holy silence that turns chit-chat with the Almighty into a God whammy moment rushed in on me.
Yes, it was in this moment that I caught myself bewildered by a grand truth. I figured this is probably how the disciples felt before they said some really not smart stuff, mostly because they couldn’t see and couldn’t hear the sights and the sounds of a kingdom all around them; Jesus knew they’d get it soon enough.
Jesus rose again on the third day, ascended to heaven and then sent the Holy Spirit to walk with the disciples (then) and us (now), giving access, through Jesus, to the Kingdom of Heaven that is now … it’s all around us. We were not left alone or abandoned; the Holy Spirit is the expression of God on the earth. He is like the wind, in that we can feel the wind’s presence and see it move but we can’t see its source, where it begins and ends, or perceive its vastness as it moves across the earth.
It is His (the Holy Spirit’s) voice and counsel that teaches us the rules and ways of the Kingdom. He invites us into the source code of eternity where natural sight gives way to spiritual sight, and a new seeing becomes the paradigm from which we live our lives.
Initially, the Kingdom of God feels upside down and inside out of all we’ve ever known. In His presence, scales are removed to see and begin to understand a kingdom governed by the rules of opposites like:
Love when you want to hate.
Give even when you’re in need.
Bless those who curse you.
Humble yourself to be exalted in due time.
As God began to remind my heart of these rules and of His ways, the eyes of my heart gave way to kingdom truth.
Why would He restore us to fleshly nakedness, when He didn’t come to redeem our flesh but to redeem our hearts?
It became clear. He did come to restore nakedness; not an outward state of being, but the place we live from in our hearts. We’re called to a place of nakedness in His presence, were we don’t hide behind fig leaves of religiosity trying to earn His love, but go skinny-dippin’ in the many pools of His grace. Because 2000 years ago it was finished, redemption paid and a Kingdom made available. It will always be what Jesus did, not what we can do.
Aww … truth rushed into my minivan and arrested me to His great love for me.
You see, in moments like these He begins to talk with me and walk with me in the secret places of my heart. His presence is there with me like the cool of the day. (Starting to sound familiar?)
“And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” ~ Genesis 3:8 (AMP)
He has restored nakedness and the garden. The garden is a representation of the intimate relationship God had with man before sin, where they walked and talked together in a deep knowing of each other.
We can walk with the Holy Spirit in deep knowing from a place of nakedness in our hearts, where we come boldly into His presence because of what Jesus has done. It’s in these times (on these walks) that the Holy Spirit speaks gently to us to lay down garments we are tempted to pick up as we maneuver through a very natural world. His voice counsels us back to the rules of opposites and to right kingdom thinking.
He reveals places of shame and condemnation that want to lure us into hiding. You see, these twins of deception have always been the enemy’s tactic to imprison us from the beginning; his game plan hasn’t changed up much. He loves sin because it separates us from God and he loves to condemn because it’s his tool of torment.
Shame is a kind of covering that shields us from intimacy with God because we are so consumed with hiding we don’t see His hand reaching out to us. When we repent of sin, any degree of it, from gossip, making judgments in our hearts, to lying, adultery and more, He says He is faithful to forgive us. God’s love and forgiveness because of the cross are not complicated or hard to receive. Walking out some of our choices can be complicated, but we have a friend that desires to lead us with His voice and wash us with His truth. He promises we won’t show up for a walk in the garden to walk alone.
“[You have called me a garden, she said] Oh, I pray that the [cold] north wind and the [soft] south wind may blow upon my garden, that its spices may flow out [in abundance for you in whom my soul delights]. Let my beloved come into his garden and eat its choicest fruits.” ~ Song of Solomon 4:16 (AMP)
You see, your garden goes with you where you go. You are a carrier of His presence, a portable meeting place with God. You have the ability to shut the world out at anytime, and run away with Him in your heart for wisdom, guidance, healing and a daily love fix where He tells you who you are. You can get neked in public and no one will see. I do it all the time. I happen to do it in my minivan a lot!
I think Charles Austin Miles understood this truth when he penned the lyrics to the song in 1912, “He Walks With Me”:
I come to the garden alone while the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear the son of God discloses
And he walks with me and he talks with me and he tells me I am his own
And the joy we share as we tarry there none other has ever known.
It’s my prayer for the women and men of this generation, you and me, that we would understand our restored union with God; that we would see with Kingdom eyes while walking hand and hand with the Holy Spirit, listening and responding to His garden advice to live free of shame as He stewards the purity of our hearts. That the world would say of us, even though they may not understand …
They walked with God. They stood in the garden. And they were … Neked.
If you feel far away from what I’ve written you can pray with me this prayer:
Lord, would you show me how you want to meet with me in the garden of my heart? Reveal any garments I’ve hidden behind that keep me from the intimacy of holding your hand. Naked isn’t always comfortable for me Lord. Would you wrap me in your grace and speak to me about who I am, who You are and about your Kingdom? I want to know you and be known by you. Let today mark the day I began to walk and talk with the Holy Spirit. Amen.