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Grow and guard

Grow and guard

There are two universal tasks in a garden.

As I take this photo, the flare on my lens accentuates the otherworldliness of these odd marble spheres.  Like many of the other art objects in this estate garden, open to the public, these globes make a visitor consider the intent of the artist – and how they interact with the natural setting around them.

I like the cosmic feel of my sun-graced shot.  It fits with my thinking about that first task given to newly created man in the original garden.

Genesis 2:15 explains:

 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

The first task given to humans was to nurture the nature given to them.  That task had two aspects.


The first responsibility was to make the garden flourish.  The Hebrew word is translated in various places as dress, work, till, serve.  It is to bring out, through attentive and deliberate design, the full potential of the plants.  It is an invitation to take what the Creator has given and add one’s own creative mark.

In one section of the grounds here, the flowers are organized into colors.  But even within, say, the yellow portion, the gardeners have planted a variety of blooms.  There is a fullness here – a celebration of natural hue and shape.  I think this was a part of the growth God intended.

And as I consider my own life, there is much to grow.  My internal, mental and spiritual garden has become a bit shabby and under-watered.  My relationships also need some tending.


The second command is the curious one.  I’ve always assumed that keep was just a variation on the first directive. For instance, the translation above renders it take care.  I think of a lighthouse keeper, making sure the lighthouse is functional.

But the Hebrew word also implies a protection against danger.  What could Adam be protecting the garden from?

Animals, perhaps.  Unchecked, they could bring disorder and ruin to Adam’s design.  This reminds me that in tending my own internal garden, even good things can become destructive when they’re out of alignment with God’s plan.

But let’s not forget that lurking in Eden is an enemy of God, and therefore, an enemy of man -- and his garden.  This adversary seeks to destroy the peace that God intends for this ideal environment.

As I think broadly about the planet, I despair that the enemy seems to be wreaking a great destruction.  The world doesn’t feel very garden-like these days.

And yet, in my devotional time this morning, I was reminded:

10 A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
    though you look for them, they will not be found.
11 But the meek will inherit the land
    and enjoy peace and prosperity.  (Psalm 37:10-11)

That shalom of Eden, in all its broad connectivity between God, man and creation, has been purchased for us by the death of Jesus.  And his resurrection guarantees that the end will be like the beginning.  A full circle of beauty, glory and peace framed by endless growth.

Without the marauding turtles.

Lord of creation, God of redemption, victorious Savior: you have given each of us a garden to grow and guard.  Help us to bring your peace and beauty into those gardens.

Reader: what’s the most remarkable garden you’ve ever seen?

Email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. And if you liked this, please use the buttons above to share it.

Bruce Van Patter

As a freelance illustrator, graphic recorder, and author, Bruce is on a lifelong journey to delight in the handiwork of the Creator. And he’s always ready for fellow travelers.

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