The Promise of Eden (part 3): the Hope of a Fragile Yearning

Please take some time to read our scripture focus, Genesis 18:1-14; not because you are unfamiliar with the story, but because with each reading comes fresh perspective. A narrowed focus. A “shutting out” of the world and a “centering in” on God’s turf–his home court, where he holds the advantage. How I pray that today’s focus will move your heart and your will closer to Him…to home…all the way back to Eden’s embrace. Would you pray for such a walk? It is possible. In fact it is a sure promise when God takes the lead.

I wonder today if any of you could boast an old heart—a life long-lived with the scars to prove it. I imagine that many of us feel as Sarah did. Worn out. Advanced in years. Past the age of bearing anything new. Our chronological age may speak otherwise, but the language of our souls speak old. What started out as a life of dreams and hopes and possibilities (remember the dances of our youth?) has now faded to a suppressed existence. What once held the high expectation of our hearts has long been buried beneath seasons of wandering and of pitching our tents along the sands of indifference.

Sarah hosted an old heart. Not only was she fragile in frame, she was fragile in spirit. The womb within her had gone dry and no longer held the possibility of birthing the promise that her husband was promised almost twenty-five years earlier. At almost ninety years of age, Sarah was doing what, I imagine that, some of us are doing this day.

Simply walking the thing through. Living a desert’s existence with little hope for change. It is a walk that I have made, and even now, I understand the exhaustion that comes from dwelling within a desert’s heat.

Good news! God comes to the desert.

He came to Sarah’s desert to plant a seed a promise on his way to proffer some destruction (see Genesis 19).

“The LORD said, ‘I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.’ Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. Abraham and Sarah were already old and well advanced in years, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, ‘After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure?’” (Genesis 18:10-12).

Sarah’s pleasure? A child. A covenant promise long ago spoken, yet a fresh wounding every time a baby’s cry or a child’s laughter pierced the ears of her desire. Her pleasure. The Hebrew transliterated word for pleasure in this verse is ‘eden meaning “luxury, dainty, delight, finery.”[i] From this same root word comes the name given to the garden of all beginnings. Of all luxuries, delights, and finery. Eden. The birth place of God’s creative genius.

Sarah wanted an Eden moment—a pleasure birthed within the aged frame that now cloaked her deferred hope. Her dreams lay buried beneath the blanket of a desert floor where no luxuries…no delights…and no finery from God’s original garden could be found. Only days of living within the confines of a tent and nights of lingering beneath the stars. Of looking up and wondering if one of those stars would birth from her womb. As time measured its cadence with deliberate silence, Sarah’s dreams for the pleasure of Eden were diminished by the echoes of a faithless laughter and a heart that had grown old.

Eden was yesterday, and this was her now and now seemed too far removed from the pleasure of the garden. A garden that was forsaken through sin. A garden that remained illusive…just beyond a heart’s reach. Just beyond a sin’s taste.

So much was lost in that one moment when God’s created chose the forbidden. Creation stood in pregnant pause for the righteous wrath of its Creator, but even then, grace mediated its way upon the soil. God gave mercy when mercy was unmerited, but there would be a cost. A consequence. A loss that banished a people from experiencing the full measure of Eden’s pleasure.

The loss of intimacy. No more walks in the cool of the day with the Father.

The loss of security. No more lush abundance and provision of neither the land, nor its borders to parameter their safety.

The loss of liberty. No more moments of raw exposure…no more freedom in nakedness.

Yes, there would be a cost for sin. And sin would be the chasm that kept God’s children from walking back home to Eden. It still is. And for Sarah, her pleasure—her Eden—seemed too far a walk for one so old and for one whose womb had shriveled to barren hopelessness.

Good news! God came to her desert to plant a seed of promise within the walls of her shriveled hope. He came to bring the promise of pleasure—a portion of Eden—to her tent in the heat of the day. He comes today to do the same for each one of us, for nothing…absolutely nothing is too hard for our Lord (stay tuned for part 4)!

Perhaps this day you are longing for a little pleasure…for your own promise of Eden. God longs to offer you the same portion of covenant that he offered Sarah and Abraham all those many years ago. This is the power of our God. He transcends time and space to mediate his way and his will into our lives if we will allow him some shade beneath our tent.

The same breath that breathed creation into existence is the same breath that comes to your tent, even now, to breathe the newness of Eden into your old. God’s speak is sacred and meant for each one of us, and so I pray…

Come Lord Jesus to my heart this day and breathe Eden’s promise into my frame. Forgive me for the times when I limit its pleasure to yesterday’s existence. My heart is old. My spirit is weak, and my flesh is tired. Create in me a new heart, Father. A heart that beats with a renewed and right spirit and with a fresh perspective for the possibilities that lie ahead. You have designed me to inhabit the eternal pleasure that comes with a garden’s walk, and so I offer my hands and my heart for the road ahead. Lead me, Father…all the way home…back to Eden’s embrace. Amen.

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[i] Brown, Driver, Briggs and Gesenius. “Hebrew Lexicon entry for ‘eden’”. “The Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon.”

(allrightsreserved, elaineolsen, 2008)

6 Responses to The Promise of Eden (part 3): the Hope of a Fragile Yearning

  1. This is so encouraging to me….My husband and I have been waiting almost seven years for our promise……It is hard for me to imagine 25 years of waiting, not to mention being 90 years old! It reminds me of another story in the Bible. Noah and his wife had to wait approximately 120 years for the first drop of rain to fall concerning their promise………No matter what I am waiting on God for in my life, I know that it won’t take 120 years.:) That encourages me, because if they could wait that long and remain faithful in everything that God asked them to do…..then seven, eight, nine, or however many years my husband and I have to wait, we know we can do it too.:)
    I’m looking forward to your next post.

    God Bless,

  2. Elaine-I have expereinced the dessert and I have experienced God’s presence in it. Because of it I am able to live in those Eden moments-almost daily, when I do not allow my flesh to get in the way. Your work, God’s message, would make a great daily devotional book my friend. Keep serving God because it is blessing us!!
    In His Graces~Pamela

  3. I really loved what you wrote here:
    So much was lost in that one moment when God’s created chose the forbidden.

    I “lose” all the time from my choices.
    Great word shared with us Elaine!
    Yes, tell your husband I was “one of many” who went and bought ‘the shoes’. I got an email from a gal that when there was a Q&A on Beth’s blog the lady who emailed me said she went & bought the mascara & lip plumper. We are just silly girls aren’t we? 🙂

  4. I love the garden imagery. I love how God can make something out of nothing. Remembering that even dried flowers can become a beautiful bouquet.

    You wrote of living in a desert’s existence with little hope for change. I posted of such an existence earlier today on my blog.

    Pruning is part of garden living. In time it produces fragrant lives filled with His beauty.

    “If seeds in the black earth can turn into such beautiful roses, what might not the heart of man become in its long journey toward the stars?” G.K. Chesterton

    God, our Gardener, can take any branch, regardless of how wounded, and put it back together again.

    As one restored,

  5. Thank you Elaine for such a refreshing and encouraging post! This gives me such hope! I do often feel like an old soul sometimes and “past the age of bearing anything new”. Bless you for the reminder that God comes to the desert and He can restore to us a portion of Eden!

    I may have to print this one out and re-read it a lot…..

    Have a good weekend!!


  6. Talk about the fountain of youth! Indeed, what a great and glorious God we serve, Who can and does make us to mount up on eagle’s wings.

    My heart is older (it just passed the 60 clock), and I also live, literally, in the desert (West of Phoenix). I can tell you with conviction and joy, He is the wonder in “wonderful”, the fresh in “refreshing”, the youth in “youthful” – and so much more!

    How blessed am I to hear how the Lord speaks to your heart.


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