Sunday afternoon I attended a demonstration for pruning fruit trees at Paul Gautschi’s home. Observing Paul move in and about the trees as he worked with hand saw and clipper, the Spirit made several impressions on me.
As he shaped an apple tree to bow before him the Holy Spirit brought to mind the passage in Revelation where the 24 elders bow before the Creator, while in Genesis, God’s creation bows before us. In so doing, Paul was exercising his dominion over the garden.
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. (Genesis 1:26 ASV)
And Jehovah God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it (Genesis 2:15 ASV).
I was also deeply moved by the number of times Paul stopped pruning to devote his full attention to sharing the Creator’s truth. As often as he stopped to speak, the Holy Spirit observed that Paul “leaned on the tree”. In scripture, the word “tree” is a metaphor for the cross of Christ (Galatians 3:13). Though it was not obvious to me in the Back to Eden film, Paul was exposed to agent orange in Vietnam which has affected his ability to stand and walk without support. Several times when Paul bent down to pick up his cane from the ground, he locked one knee behind the other, presumably to keep from losing his balance or falling.
… My power is perfected in weakness … (2 Corinthians 12:9 LITV).
After coming home from Paul’s demonstration, I was led to the post “Image of the Wounded Healer“ by R.H. (Rusty) Foerger and the statement below:
“Nothing can be written about ministry without a deeper understanding of the ways in which the minister can make his own wounds available as a source of healing.”
Certainly Paul’s wounds – what the Father has allowed to remain in him as a “thorn in the flesh” – has caused Paul to lean upon the Creator for the knowledge to make creation conform to his needs. And by sharing freely from what he has learned there, Paul has helped many to repent of man’s destructive ways and learn how to tend to creation God’s way.
Watching and learning from Paul brought to mind this passage of scripture:
For the earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to vanity, not of its own will, but by reason of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. (Romans 8:19-21 ASV)
I have to admit when I first read the passage above, I imagined the revealed (manifest) “sons of God” to be some kind of new, sign and wonder working super-men of God, who would forcefully advance God’s kingdom on the earth. More specifically, I once thought the sons of God would advance His kingdom through man’s institutional and hierarchical church system; a view not uncommon among the charismatic neo-apostolic movement today. Oh how the Holy Spirit has changed my understanding over the years!
Sunday, while watching Paul dress his orchard, the Holy Spirit changed my understanding yet again, while watching a son of God, restore, heal, care for, dress and protect that portion of creation entrusted to him by the Creator. Could it really be that simple?
Though cold with snow and ice still on the ground, I was truly warmed by what I saw and heard. Even the tender help people gave to Paul moved me; whether the gentle friend who helped Paul with his fanny pack and filmed the event, the people who handed Paul his cane, the young boy who knelt and moved the cutting tarp ahead of Paul, or the father and son who carried the tarp and cuttings to the truck. It was a delightful blessing to watch a son of God and the brethren lovingly and respectfully work together in the garden.
Insights: the Hebrew word râdâh (H7287) rendered “dominion over” in Genesis 1:26, also means to “subjugate” and to “reign over”. Likewise, in Genesis 2:15, the word word ‛âbad (H5647) translated “dress”, also means “worshipper”. Since obviously man does not worship creation, for such would be idolatry, man does effectively make creation worship man, by making it serve and bow down before him. In keeping with that thought, the word shâmar (H8104) translated “to keep it”, also means to guard, protect, preserve and save, Eden. We have been given God-like authority over creation, and God-like responsibility for protecting and preserving it.