Around this time, a year ago, we put out a post called “The Year of the Locust” which explained how 2020 was for us a good year. “Aching for Eden” is a phrase in a song which was embedded on that post. I thought it would be good to expand on this idea and show why we called the blog Aching for Eden.
As I thought about this post, I went back to the homepage and saw what I had written a year and a half ago, when we launched this site. We had no idea at the time if anyone would read it. We’ve been blown away by the response by our dear readers and friends. Now I am working on a book whose working title is “Surprised Into Freedom: The effortless obliteration of lust and body shame.”
When I saw what I wrote on the homepage, I decided to edit and expand it to the following:
Does your heart ache for the restoration of all things? Can we return to the innocence of Eden in our lives today? Many believe we can’t and any pursuit of this in our fallen state would be in vain. They would rather make Genesis 3 their starting place instead of Genesis 1 and 2. We are far from perfect, however, we do not want that to get in the way of a deep and rich relationship with our Lord. We not only believe God can restore the years the locusts have eaten (Joel 2:25), but He has done just that in our own lives. This blog is a testimony to that wonderful place of living not in Adam, but in Christ.
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”REVELATION 21:5 (ESV)
Recently, we read all of Joel 2 again, and see now why the author of the song mentions the phrase “aching for Eden.” You have to go back from verse 25 to Joel 2:3 (NIV): “Before them the land is like the garden of Eden, behind them, a desert waste— nothing escapes them.” There is a lot of poetically depressing language in this chapter foretelling the day of the Lord. Yet, with this, there is still some hope. Is it too hard to imagine that we can exchange God’s judgment for His favor? There are hints that He may relent (v. 14), especially if we rend our heart, not our garments (v. 13).
This passage means a lot to us, because through the rending of our hearts (not our garments) we’ve become like new. Often when Scripture speaks of “new” it’s a sense of “new and improved” or “better than the last.” Our lives certainly got an “upgrade” since embracing naturism. It’s caused us to better our lives in other areas as well, many of them spiritual in nature. The brokenness of the previous versions of both me and my wife has been restored and made new. We may not be able to restore Eden in its totality in this fallen world, but we are so much closer than we were for 20 years of our life together before our change.
Jesus’ prayer was “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10 NIV) This may not mean that we are to walk around naked, as we may in heaven some day. It means much more than this. And yet, we tend to rob God of his power because we haven’t rended our own hearts and embraced His power like we should. Naturism may not be for everyone, but refusing to be a “new and better” version of ourselves is not recommended. God wants his sons and daughters to prophesy in the Spirit (Joel 2:28). He wants to save everyone who calls on Him (Joel 2:32). This includes the issues of lust and body shame. Those are bondages that entrap so many Christians today in epidemic proportions. Many ultimately think (or act) as if the best we can do is deal with and manage these two issues on a daily basis. That’s not God’s intent. He wants to save and rescue completely. He’s waiting for us to rend our hearts. It’s really that simple!
I don’t know how much of this is connecting with you, dear reader. I hope some of this is making sense. We live in the Kingdom of the now and not yet. We are living between two trees. The tree of life that was will be reinstated at the end of time. As we wait for that day, we should make the best of it. We must not throw our hands up in defeat and hope for a better day, when lust will be no more and where we can be naked without shame like in the beginning. If we have a drinking problem, we don’t wait to fix it. If we have a lying problem, we don’t give up hope of overcoming that sin before the end. Why do we think we can do nothing but lust at the sight of flesh? Why must we hate our bodies until they are glorified?
One answer is we have an enemy who hates the image of God and those who bear it. He is hell-bent on deceiving the whole world with his distorted views (Revelation 12:9; John 8:44). He deceives well-intentioned people by masquerading as an angel of light (2 Corinthian 11:14). Sadly, we are making his job easy. Many will remain in bondage without ever experiencing God’s powerful redemption in their lives in these areas.
This is why we are “aching for Eden.” Call it impatience. Call it “immanetizing the eschaton.” We don’t want to wait for a future restoration, when it can be a present reality. It’s impossible for us to want anything but God’s favor, because we’ve lived under His judgment for a long time, and we can attest that His goodness is so much better. We rended our hearts and He is repaying the years the locusts had eaten. I know Hebrews 6:4-6 NIV is talking about salvation, and not about any specific issue individually, but the principle still applies: “those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age” should not eschew these blessings right now in exchange for a future grace. Grace is for today. Hope is for the present, or it’s not hope at all. We see salvation from sin as something accomplished in Jesus, where our faith is credited as righteousness. But then we act as though deliverance from bondage to lust or body shame is next to impossible this side of heaven. Why the double-mindedness?
May the words of Romans 8:19-26 NIV give us confidence and peace of mind, as we join with all creation in “aching for Eden.”
For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.
To this text, we say Amen or “let it be so.”