Walk along with me on our seventh journey and final trek through this life. Might this be your current journey?
Over the past six months, I wrote about the seven journeys we take in this life, and today we take our final journey called “The Return of the Garden of Eden.”
Our first journey began after we left our comfort zone of the original Garden of Eden, having to start earning our continued existence by the sweat of our brow. Eventually we find ourselves in Egypt, where pharaohs enslaved and oppressed us. In time, God freed us, taking us on our third journey into the wilderness, where we learned about needed responsibilities and accountabilities to live as a free people. The wilderness tested our talents, our souls, and our gumption, honing us into a people worthy of self-determination. To help us find our way out of the wilderness, God sent us a Pillar of Fire (the fourth journey), which we Christians today call the Holy Spirit, to guide us into the Land of Promise – the fifth journey. Last month, I wrote about the New Jerusalem (journey six) first created by King David and then recreated as a New Jerusalem under God’s rule, according to the last two chapters of the Book of Revelation.
Here, in this New Jerusalem, we see the River of Life watering The Tree of Life planted for the healing of the nations, an end of death, creating the city free any mourning. In other words, when we reach the New Jerusalem, we return to the Garden of Eden (the seventh journey), where God allows us access to the Tree of Life, offering us abundant life and life eternal.
Thousands of years ago, God pushed us out of the Garden of Eden, putting us to the test with our newfound knowledge of good and evil. God sort of says to humanity, “OK. You now know the difference between good and evil. Let’s see if you can use that knowledge to make a healthy and fruitful life for yourself and for generations to come.” God let humanity use its newfound knowledge of good and evil and tested us about it for a very long period of time, even to the present day.
Once humanity realizes one day that a good life requires more than the knowledge of good and evil, then we can enter the New Jerusalem, learning that complete faith in God matters more than knowledge or wisdom.
In the final two chapters of the Book of Revelation, we catch a glimpse of God’s New Heaven, New Earth and New Jerusalem, along with the kind of faith required to enter Jerusalem’s Pearly Gates.
The one question we must answer might go like this, “What will it take for me to let go of all my biases, preconceptions about the world, my personal fears, and my false notions in order to walk into the New Jerusalem, where I will find abundant life?”
We can take this final, seventh journey based solely upon what we choose to give up, so that we can life in God’s light in God’s New City. We might ask first, “What’s in it for me?”
The answer, “After entering God’s New Jerusalem, an entirely new series of journeys begin. Entering the New Jerusalem ends the first seven journeys – ending the first age of humanity – and begins a completely new set of journeys as mysterious as our first seven journeys.”
I find that prospect exciting! How about you? Ready to enter into a new mystery? I am.
Thank you for journeying with me over the past seven months as we evolved together along the path to God’s New Creation. I hope you found these journeys instructive. Beginning next month, I hope to bring us to new insights into this powerful and virtually unknowable trek we call “life”. Bon voyage.
Tom Towns is pastor of First United Methodist Church in Cortez.