“We were borne before the wind

Also younger than the sun

Ere the bonnie boat was won

As we sailed into the mystic”

(Van Morrison)

Genesis 1 tells us how God created a world that was in perfect harmony. The story of creation is set in a 7-day time span over which God creates everything we have in the world today. God starts with light, and then adds all the features of nature – from the waters to the animals – and then God called it all “good.” When God says something is good, that means it is in perfect harmony with God’s will. 

When the 6th day came in God’s creation story, God created humans in the image of God – male and female God created them. (Gen. 1:27) God blessed the humans (Gen. 1:28), and then looked over all that God had created and saw that it was “excellent in every way.” (Gen. 1: 31) When God thinks something is “excellent in every way” that means it is in perfect harmony with God’s will. Even us!

Chapter 2 of Genesis takes God’s story of perfect harmony into the “Garden of Eden” where man and woman live together with all the other things of creation in a place where nothing is not in harmony with God. All things of existence have found their true nature and they live it out every day; from the clouds and the rain to the trees and the plants to the caterpillars and bullfrogs to the man and the woman. Nothing is dominated by their self-will. Everything is in perfect harmony with God. 

That’s the world that Van Morrison sings about in his song, “Into the Mystic.” (lyrics above) You see, before we got here, we were there … in the “Garden” that God had created. God gave man and woman one final gift that no other part of creation was given – self-will. God knew that without self-will, humans could not be the creatures that God created them to be. God wanted humans to love God by their own choice, because that’s the only way love actually means love. But that self-will also gave us the freedom to do our own thing and to make our own choices. 

Which brings us to today. Here we are, still seeking that perfect harmony with God that is right in front of us. The past few days, my son Jackson and I have been holed up in a cabin in the middle of the Shawnee Forest in southern Illinois seeking that perfect harmony of God in the realm of nature living on its own terms. Being deep in the woods of a national forest is about as close as we can get to that prefect harmony of the Garden of Eden in today’s society. 

For some it is found on a boat in the middle of the sea, and for others it is found climbing mountains that stretch to the sky. And, of course, there’s the beach. My wife, Amy, finds her solace and peace sitting on the beach facing the never ending span of the ocean which extends to the horizon, and beyond. All of these are good places to get close to that original harmony of the Garden. You probably have your own places that bring you closer to God’s presence. The trick, of course, is to bring this sense of original perfection back to our “real” lives. 

It’s wonderful to spend a few days in the woods, free to be yourself and free to be in nature as God created it to be. But the question for us is: How do we experience the mystic of God’s harmony in our everyday lives? The answer to that question brings us back to self-will. God has blessed us with a choice to make each and every day; should it be my will or yours, God? 

Only when we are willing to surrender our own will for God’s will, do we move our souls closer to the harmony of the Garden of Eden. It’s true! Eden is right in front of us. Just ask God. God created all this as a way to bring us closer to God … not farther away. 

The material realities of our lives are but distractions from the mystical reality of God’s presence that surrounds us … and calls to us. It’s as if God can give us new sight – a new way of seeing – so that we may, if we choose, look around us and see that Garden that we came from … that perfect harmony that God instilled in the world at the beginning. 

This week I was reminded of all that harmony and perfection that still remains in the world today. I found myself immersed in nature that was as close to pristine and perfect as God created it. The deep  woods can be stunning in its simplicity – each creature and each plant and each tree co-existing with each other just as God intended – all of them living and growing perfectly according to God’s will. 

And then humans come along. And, as it is every day of our lives, we have a choice to make. Do I co-exist with this patch of the Kingdom by surrendering my will and following God’s will to the best of my ability – or do I come to exert my will on this piece of perfect creation, marred only by the reckless decisions of other humans who cannot resist acting out of self-will. 

The truth of God’s creation is that we have that choice every single day of our lives — whether we are in the woods, on the sea, up on the mountaintop or at the beach. But we also have that same choice when we get back home. God created us to bring harmony with God’s way and God’s will to the place we are each and every day. Those other places we go are just reminders of what we can help God create right at home.

In the end, it’s not about where we are, but who we are. It’s about the choice we make every day. It’s about my will or God’s will. It’s about harmony with perfection that already exists or exerting my power over harmony and creating disharmony in my life and in the world. It’s about good enough for me or the best of what’s possible for all.

As for me, I choose to bring my will before God, and ask that it be molded into whatever God may desire. In that sense, I prefer to “sail into the mystic” with my sights set on Eden and my heart following Jesus. And though I often fall short of perfection, I know that God loves my desire to please God alone and God will always love me, just as I am, imperfections and all! 

Peace and harmony to all,

Pastor Bob