Insight for the Day

Perfection Includes Some Nos

April 4, 2024 Robert Wolgemuth—Editor

The Lord God took the man and placed him in the garden of Eden to work it and watch over it. —Gen. 2:15

At this moment I'm looking out on a mid-May Michigan afternoon. The sky includes fluffy white cotton-candy clouds against an azure sky. I’m looking over the Saint Joseph River that at the moment features two pure-white wild swans floating in the gentle current. The flowers in the pots on the deck right in front of me feature brilliant blossoms. Bird feeders are covered with incredible-looking red-headed creatures and little wrens. The freshly mown grass frames the picture.

But as hard as it may be for me to imagine, the garden of Eden makes my vista look like a smoldering city dump.

Not only was Eden pretty, but it was also perfect in every other way, too. Man’s relationship to woman was exquisite. Flawless. Woman’s relationship to man included respect and affection. It was without shame or conflict or fear. And their relationship with their Creator was impeccable. Adam and Eve were delighted at all of this.

But amazingly, right in the middle of this beauty there was a no. A centrally located fruit-bearing tree that could not be eaten. Isn’t that incredible? The perfect garden of Eden included a no.

Most of the time, you and I think of pure enjoyment having no boundaries. No inhibitions. No nos, if you will. All yeses. We want it; we get it, and no one stops us. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

But God, knowing us better than we know ourselves, created us to need discipline—to be happier when certain restrictions and guidelines are firmly in place.

Now that I think about it, the view outside my window, the lush grass I mentioned, has been enhanced by some nasty chemical stuff to feed the turf and to keep weeds out. Occasionally this nice guy spreads smelly fertilizer on the grass. Several times a week, a young friend waters the pots and pinches off ugly, drooping petunia blossoms.

Sometimes being human requires a lot of maintenance. Regardless of your age, the ol’ body is beginning to show serious signs of wear and tear. Not enough exercising and too many indulgences, right? Relationally, at times you feel like your household’s policeman, prosecuting attorney, and judge. It seems like you’re saying no all the time, you’re charging your children with “crimes” you didn’t witness, and you’re trying to determine a fair punishment. Not exactly the stuff to award you with your county’s Dad of the Year.

Take heart. Even Eden, as perfect as it was, included some discipline—a no tree. Sometimes healthy food isn’t the most delicious, but your body is grateful that you often say no to junk food. And even though they may never celebrate this, your family is happier—and more pleasant—with the discipline you’re imposing than they would be without it.

The garden of Eden was a perfect home that God, the Creator of the universe, built Himself. When He put our ancestor Adam there, He called the man “very good.” And yes, the garden included the discipline of forbidden fruit, but it also included a heavenly Father’s tender love for His children that was unshakable and everlasting. What a great example of divine alignment this is for us to follow!