Two Trees in the Garden

I bought a book one time just because I was so captured by the title. It was titled There Were Two Trees in the Garden, and it was by Rick Joyner. It sits on my bookshelf still and I’m sorry to say I still haven’t read it after several years of owning it. Maybe I’ll get to it someday. But I love the title anyway.

One day recently I was teaching World Literature to a small class of reprobates when I noticed in our Literature book an allusion to the Garden of Eden. The textbook explains that “Adam and Eve [were] forbidden by God to eat the fruit of the Tree of Life in the center of the garden.” It goes on to say that they in fact did eat the fruit and were therefore banished from the garden forever. My wife, who grew up faithfully attending a “Bible-believing church” and is herself a minister’s daughter, commented that she probably wouldn’t have caught the error when she was in high school since so little attention was given to the fact that there were, indeed, two trees in the garden.

But the one with Life in it was the one from which God wanted them to eat. It was that other tree that God warned them not to eat–said it wouldn’t be good for them. Folks miss that little detail and consequently miss one of the most important stories of our revealed faith. God had a Life that He wanted to put inside of us, but we were (and are) lured away by something else that appears to offer something very good: The knowledge of good and evil. Whatever that is, of this I’m sure: It sounds really good. Like something you need. But in the end it will only bring death.

Where I live now, there is much talk about those two trees, and about what that forbidden tree was offering. And I’ve noticed something: We often make much of the fact that the word “knowledge” is in there. I’ve even heard it called “the tree of knowledge.” The implication there is that knowledge is itself somehow a distracting thing. And the truth is, it can be. But I’ve had just enough Hebrew to know that when the Old Testament says “knowledge,” it’s practically synonymous with “experience.” Adam knew his wife. And Man was invited to know good and evil. I don’t think this tree was so much about learning things or becoming too cerebral. It was about pursuing perfection in order to make ourselves right. It was about “doing it right.”

This is the basis of all religions, isn’t it? Doing it right. All religions (including the Christian religion) share this endeavor: To get it right. Do it right. Say it right. Pray it correctly. Think correctly. Feel correctly. This was what was offered to Mankind in the garden, and only this was strong enough in its appeal to lure them away from the greatest gift ever offered: The Life of God with Us. Well, it remains for us still today to partake of that Life of God with Us. Daily we stand beneath that tree somehow, and daily something inside of you craves that life that comes from the Vine, and daily you can partake. But there will always be this other preoccupation that you will have to deny…this obsession with doing it right.

Should I say that? Should I go there? Should I feel that way? Is it right for me to desire that? Did our meeting go as it should have? Are we doing it right? How are we supposed to… You get my drift. Those that had confrontations with Jesus were always amazed at His disregard for what He was “supposed to do” at so many moments. He just didn’t seem to do things the way He was supposed to. Drove those religious men crazy. He even drove the unreligious fishermen crazy with His choices. But what they didn’t get was that He was living by another Life. The Life of God with Us. He wasn’t chasing the chimera of “doing it right.” He was listening to a voice. He was following a Shepherd. He had very little control over what each moment would present for Him to endure, but He trusted that His Father would not lead Him astray. It wasn’t about getting it right. It was about following the sound of those footsteps that Man was meant to encounter in the cool of the day. That’s what it’s still about today.

How does church life work? What should we be doing? We want to get it right, don’t we? No, let’s not make that our goal. Let’s make it our goal to find Him wherever He is, and live there. And whenever He moves, let’s get up and go wherever He’s going. Let’s never get too comfortable in one place, because like Rich Mullins used to say, we’re following a homeless man. He rarely stays a long time in one spot. And let’s not fret too much about if we’re following Him right. As long as we are following Him, it is right.


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10 Responses to “Two Trees in the Garden”

  1. J. Samuel Thomas Says:

    Yea…I think you’re right Neil!
    *big cheesy grin ;)*

  2. J. Samuel Thomas Says:

    seriously though…, good post, brother.

    All Love to y’all

  3. Jada's Gigi Says:

    Amen brother! There is right and then there is Life…I choose Life

  4. Kim Says:

    Thanks Neil! Life over right!! Say “Hi” to April for me.

    Love ya’ll

  5. Mike Morrell Says:

    Hey, so you’re blogging quasi-regularly again. Good deal.

    Kinda veering off the straight and narrow of “Nee orthodoxy” with this post, aren’t ya, brother? : ) Knowledge=experience makes the whole thing a bit more nuanced, as Life is experience as well.

    So the question is, what is the qualitative difference between these kinds of experience? I suppose what I’ve seen and learned as that “experience in God” is a whole lot less self-reflective and self-attached than other kinds of experience, where I’m having the experience on the one hand and holding the “I” having the experience in the other.

    When you’re lost in the God-life relationship–call it second innocence, purity of heart, the cloud of unknowning, etc.–I find that you’re focused either on the Lord or others–God within or God without. Maybe that’s the difference.

  6. Jeremy Uriz Says:

    I just read your profile and you like movies about time travel. Ever seen “Time Bandits”. Terry Gilliam of Monty Python fame co-wrote and directed it.
    Sorry, didn’t know any other way to post about it and I knew you would see it here.

  7. Neil Says:

    Ahh, yes. Time Bandits. I got stuck in a hotel one time on vacation with my folks and they abandoned me for several hours, bribing me with a pizza and two rental movies. I picked Time Bandits and TRON. Loved em both. Maybe I’ll write about them sometime. Preceding the Matrix by 17 years, TRON was the first movie to depict a person existing simultaneously on two separate planes (in the game vs. in real life).

  8. Herobill Says:

    Thanks, Neil. I think you got to the heart of the matter just fine.

    I thought once of calling it the tree of “you decide”. As opposed to God decides what’s good & what’s not. Ever notice how many times God says the word “good” in the buildup to that pesky tree episode?

    Milton’s Paradise Regained went from the garden to Jesus’ 40 days of temptation; from the devil’s victory over man to his first defeat by a man… which is huge, granted…

    But I like to think the next “episode” should be in the skies above the fall. It’s the next time when God speaks out of heaven and says what is “good”.

    His Son.

    Let’s keep on “know”ing and “experience”ing Him.

    PS: Mike, your third paragraph is entirely greek to me. But I got AND liked the fourth one, though.

  9. Herobill Says:

    I meant, “…in the skies above the Jordan…” (at Jesus’ baptism)

    -doofus-head, self-editing typist!

  10. abmo Says:

    Eating that tree left us with what? A life with some good in me as well as some bad in me? Looks like it. Jesus told us to come to the cross. I used to think that it was to kill the bad stuff in my life. The last 5 years however, He killed the good stuff. And suddenly He, Who is Life, can flow through me, unhindered, despite my good and bad stuff. They are still there, but I am no longer ruled by them. His love does. Do I still sin? Yes, a lot. Do I still do good stuff in order to be loved and recognised? Yes, a lot. But slowly, unexpectantly, His Life and Love, comes through when I’m not trying so hard. And that fills me with hope. Thanks for your blog. It’s a place of hope.

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