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Choosing Happiness/Defying Gravity: Longing for Enough in a Culture of More

posted Nov 5, 2016, 7:53 AM by Sue Fried
by Pastor Gary Walpole
Paradise Job Description
“I’ve got two tickets to paradise. Won’t you pack your bags, we’ll leave tonight.”
                                                     --Eddie Money
“God planted a garden in Eden.”
                                                     --Genesis 2:8

When you think of paradise what comes to mind? Palm trees? White, sandy beaches? Cool breezes? Gentle waves? Picture perfect!

Let me ask you something: Is there work in your picture of paradise? Wait! Before you dismiss this question out of hand, hold it for a little bit and consider this.

The Garden of Eden, remember that story – Adam and Eve and all that stuff. Well, a close look at the story tells us the “original paradise” is more about work than paradise. I’m not talking about the “punishment” part of the story with the snake, apple, and sweat of the brow stuff. I’m talking about work as being an important part of the story.

You know, the whole story, the story that reads like a job description.

Imagine the Divine logic. It goes something like this: God gets creative with life--trees, bushes, grasses, flowers, rivers; then living, moving companions called animals. Then THE companion. Here comes the charge--to be caretakers of the garden, you know watering, planting, weeding, pruning, harvesting. You know, like a farmer’s life--24/7, something  with purpose and meaning.

Here’s the job description of paradise. Wanted: creatures created from dirt willing to get dirty. Requirements: a sense of beauty, wonder, and creativity; a willingness to till, tend, and care; a combining of work, leisure, joy and pain. Outcome: it leads to all kinds of fruitfulness--most of it out of your control. The ability to work with others and a sense of humor are required. An appreciation of wondrous sunrises and sunsets is helpful. Benefits: everything under and over the rainbow.

Now that’s a job description! God plants, we care-give. My grandma used to tell me, “Gary, make yourself useful.”

Some paradise! What that word picture seems to paint for us, among other things, is a common phrase I remember: it’s not all about me. Work, career, life--it’s all about an artful balance. Remembering that the value of work is not about the pay check.

We have other options of course. It IS all about me. Give me the money! Paradise is all about chocolate-covered cherries and bonbons rather than doing something meaningful with our lives in the world. We think that chocolate-covered cherries and bonbons paradise leads to happiness. The reality is, it doesn’t.