Control in the Garden of Eden {The Grove: Control}

One of the rich blessings of this week’s theme is to remind me that God is in control. That he did not merely put the world in motion and then step away, leaving us on our own to figure our way through the muck.

As I was thinking about how God is in control and what my life might look like if I had control, I sensed the whisper of the Spirit say, “But it’s not an either/or. You have set up a false dichotomy: Either God is in control or you are. You both are.”

Wait, what?

We are part of the Imago Dei—the image of God. In the Garden of Eden, before brokenness, distance, and sin entered the story, Adam and Eve lived being an Image Bearer perfectly. God revealed how my thinking about “control” has been influenced by The Fall. Living, as we do, in Eden Lost, all we have seen and experienced has flavoring from the fall. But the hope of the Gospel is that the Kingdom of God can be here and now—and that also involves how we use control.

Having and handling control rightly is one of the ways we are Image Bearers.

In the garden we are told, “So the Lord God formed from the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would call them, and the man chose a name for each one. He gave names to all the livestock, all the birds of the sky, and all the wild animals.”

I cannot wait to get to Heaven and ask God if I can see this scene. But until then, we can picture it. God forming animals and bringing them to Adam, dare I say, eager to see what he will call them? Excited to share in this moment with Adam and see what Adam will name the animals.

What stood out to me this time was the scope of this scene. It wasn’t God made an animal, Adam said, “It’s a cow.” God made an animal, Adam said, “It’s a blue heron.” God made an animal, Adam said, “It’s a tiger.” End scene.

No!

The Lord God formed from the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the sky.

 Emphasis obviously added. Control starts with God (and I’m going to call this “Capital C” Control). God is the one who makes animals out of the ground! God brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. God did not bring the animals to Adam and tell him what they were.

He brought them to the man to see what he would call them.

Part of being an Image Bearer is having control (“Small C” control).

Look what’s next. The amazing vastness of this control we have been given.

The man chose a name for each one. He gave names to all the livestock, all the birds of the sky, and all the wild animals.

Again, emphasis mine, but the words are God’s. (God and I are sharing Control, control). Adam chose a name for each animal. Each. Not some. Not God saying, “That’s a dumb name” or “Hurry it along.” Adam had control of a task and the way he chose to do it.

This all sounds exciting and fist pumping the air and wow! Then I think about the task.

All the livestock. All, not some. Not just the pigs, chickens, cows, showing my lack of agricultural knowledge.

All the birds of the sky. All, not some. Not just the robin, blue jay, sparrow, and hawk, showing my lack of bird knowledge.

All the wild animals. All, not some. Not just the panda, tiger, and elephant, showing my lack of wild animal knowledge.

We are not told in the text how many animals there are or how much time it took, and this was before The Fall so tedium hadn’t entered the picture yet. But it is a bit overwhelming how much God is willing to share control with Adam.

As an Image Bearer, God has chosen to share limited control with us. I forget this. I think in our line of work I’ve had to accept how much is out of my control and requires faith that I forget how much is in my control.

Even typing this I feel uncomfortable because I’m more familiar thinking of my lack of control. Let’s talk for just a moment about how this life of cross-cultural service might be informing our relationship with control. Many of us:

  • Are on support and might not know how much is coming in monthly or annually.
  • Have to trust medical systems that can be hard to trust.
  • Understand we are on visas that could be revoked at any time.
  • Feel like there is no end to dishes, schooling, or laundry.
  • Wonder if this call will cost us getting married or growing our family.
  • Serve on assigned teams.

All of these are true. And even in Eden, control didn’t mean you get to do what you want at all times.

Today, I’d like for us, like Adam, to name what we do have control over. Where God has formed something and then offered you or your family or your team to have control. While we can’t list all that God has let us control, let’s see how many comments we can get!

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This is what we call The Grove.  It’s where we all gather to share our thoughts, our words, and our art on our weekly prompt.  So join us in the comments.  Show us your art work by adding an image. And link up your own blog posts on this week’s prompt.  Click here for details and instructions

19 Comments

  1. Laura October 29, 2015

    Amy,

    I have never thought of Adam naming the animals in this way. Wow! Thank you for the reminder to look at what God has given me control of in this process of reentry – how I treat others, whom I befriend, what food I put in my body, etc. Loved your words today, friend!

    1. Amy Young October 29, 2015

      Love that you included things involving others AND yourself! 🙂

  2. Melissa Toews October 29, 2015

    As a stay-at-home mom of three under 5, I often feel like I have no control. Messy diapers, baby waking up early, toddler tantrums – so many things I can’t schedule or prevent. But it’s refreshing to think of all the things I CAN control…. Such as what my family eats for supper, when I do the dishes and laundry, the decor (or lack thereof) in my house, and my own responses and attitudes.

    1. Amy Young October 29, 2015

      I love, Melissa, how your list wasn’t just one thing :). Thanks!!

  3. Emily October 29, 2015

    Things I can control. hm. This felt like a hard prompt! But the first thing that sprung to mind immediately was – how I react to situations and circumstances. Yikes. Hey there, Holy Spirit!

    After a bit more brainstorming, here are a few more:
    -What media I consume; what I listen to, watch, and read.
    -How I speak to others and myself.
    -What I will choose to dwell on and think about.
    -Where I put things in my home. (Lol. This one seems silly but it is SO COMFORTING to me to be able to put my things where I am want them. Thank the Lord for a flexible husband who couldn’t give two hoots either way.)
    -The pictures I take. (Photographer at heart!)

    This was fun. I think I need to do this more often when I feel like life is out of control!

    1. Amy Young October 29, 2015

      “Hey there Holy Spirit.” I love this! And your list was empowering to me … I can control many of those things too. AND I love how comforting “putting things in my own home.” Thanks for the list!!

  4. Michele Womble October 30, 2015

    Wow, Amy, thanks for such a beautiful post!  And so many linkups, I can’t wait to read them all!  But…I am off to the recording studio (see MY linkup 🙂 ) I hope for the last time before we leave..(if all goes well, but you know..:-) )  I’ll drop back by here later today…

  5. Caitlin Lieder October 30, 2015

    This was an interesting post to read! I wonder if we could substitute the word “control” for “have dominion over”. While yes, God has given us responsibilities and dominion over our “gardens” (whether that be home, field, etc), He always has the control. He is sovereign over all things and I think it’s a delicate but important subtlety.

    1. Amy Young October 30, 2015

      I think we are saying the same thing, using different words :). I’m just expanding what we do control, because so often we are told so much is out of our control and I think it begins to bred within our souls a false sense of how much God actually has given us (He’s given more than we realize!). He is generous beyond our wild imaginations :)!

      1. Caitlin Lieder October 30, 2015

        Amy, Agreed 🙂

  6. Michele Zintz October 30, 2015

    Clearly, I am feeling my lack of control more than usual, though I hadn’t noticed it till I read this post and found myself actually in tears!  Taking a moment to ask the Lord what caused such an emotional response, I realize that my life being somewhat consumed with a bedbug infestation, and recognizing this week that I CAN stop and spend time in prayer before digging into more cleaning, etc. is a big part of it.  Living in a nation that experienced two major earthquakes and hundreds of aftershocks this year, and seeing and hearing about overwhelming needs I can’t fulfil have made me feel more ‘out-of-control’ than ever before, probably.  All that to say THANK YOU for this post!  The things I CAN control, in addition to how I spend my time, are listed in other comments, but I’ll mention them again anyway:  my response and attitude to situations and people, what I speak, what I eat are things that came to mind.

    1. Amy Young October 30, 2015

      Michele, and now your comment has brought tears to me! I understand why you might feel out of control … WOW, that’s a LOT going on in your life! I’ll pray that the Holy Spirit ministers to you in the midst of all that is out of your control and reminds you of small areas you do have control. Again, wow, I just want to validate how much you do have going on! Maybe this post was laid on my heart for you :). I love that!!

    2. Michele Womble October 30, 2015

      oh, Michele!  We had bedbugs, too, it was horrible – I really feel for you right now.  It’s kind of like, “as if everything else wasn’t enough, now we have bedbugs”…I was really frustrated over our bedbugs. It didn’t help that my kids flipped out, either.

      None of those things was I able to control.  A friend of mine took the words of one of my songs and changed them to be about bedbugs, and encouraged us to SING about our bedbugs…THAT I could control…but somehow I never could get the kids into the singing about the bedbugs thing..

        1. Michele Zintz October 31, 2015

          While, on the one hand I can’t blame the kids for not getting into it, I’d love to hear your bedbug song! 🙂

  7. Ashley Felder November 1, 2015

    ^^Bedbug song. That’s some awesome control, girls! Not sure I could get there. But hope you do, Michele!!

    Great post, Amy! I’m reading through Genesis now and enjoyed reading about how Adam got to name each animal–never remembered that detail before! My first thought with that–how did he have words to name them all?! I guess God gave him a vast vocabulary and a wild imagination. 🙂

  8. Cecily November 2, 2015

    “I woke up in the morning, and looked up on the wall, the cooties and the bedbugs were having a game of ball, ball, ball.  The score was six to nothing, the cooties were ahead, the bedbugs made a touchdown, and knocked me out of bed, bed, bed.”  Sorry, I couldn’t resist 🙁

    Amy, thanks for your post.  I realize that I often feel like God isn’t in control anymore and I think that I have to be.  No wonder I am stressed and angry!

    And, when I think about God bringing the animals to Adam to receive a name, I think about the things that God brings to me, or the situations that He allows (because He is still in control!).  When He brings me things, He wants me to rest in the assurance that He is still in control, and then He says, “Now, what would you like to do with this?”  We are co-laborers with Him.  We are yoked with Him.  He wants us to do this together.  That requires a lot of humility and love on His part!

    1. Amy Young November 3, 2015

      I LOVE the song! Once when I was in a phase of life where I was having to kill in inordinate amount of mice with my frying pan, I made up a song to the tune of “three blind mice” … that song did help :)!!

      And I’m glad this post heaped you, because it helped me too. We help each other, with God’s help!

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