I was young when I first heard the call for watchmen on the wall. It sounded romantic, heroic and epic, and I responded with enthusiasm--not knowing what it meant or what it would look like. Now that I am older, I see myself with sharper eyes--wisdom bought with tears. I know now that my earlier enthusiasm was zeal without understanding. So many dreams have gone to dust. I am tired and prey to the many pains of middle age. So few things have turned out like I expected, and discouragement always crouches at the door, ready to be my unwelcome companion.
Yet I am more convinced than ever before that the call remains. I am a watchman, though my younger views on what that means have fallen by the way. I am to occupy in the military sense--occupation being what a victorious army does in the land it conquers. Yes I keep an eye out for the enemy, but I also have to live in the land. I’ve learned I don’t maintain my territory through striving, waving a sword or shouting the devil down. I occupy with the tears of self knowledge; by loving my husband; by learning… then learning again to be kind; by teaching and waiting on my children, even when it doesn't seem to bear fruit; by practicing silence (a hard one for me). I occupy not by the grand gestures I so loved when I was young, but by doing all the little things that make me human. The difficult, hidden things. The little homely virtues God designed into us, because they were the very things He loves and wants to see in us.
God walking in the garden with Adam was not a grand gesture. There is nothing epic about a stroll in the cool of the evening. He made us for small and simple things, done lovingly and well. For family and love and companionship. For faithful persistence, even when all hope seems lost. I once thought that meant I had to grow strong. Now I know that I can only continue forward, enduring all things, because I've responded and so surrenderd to His love that I can do nothing else. Because I see that the goal of the entire span of history is for man to once again walk with Him in the cool of the evening. To be His friend.
We face a future in which much of what it means to be human will be swept away before the earth is renewed and God reigns over all. It will be a costly and painful journey, full of fear and darkness and drama. But God loves paradox, so it will also be a season of glory, miracles and dramatic victory. When the grand story is over and He lives with us on the earth, what will we remember? I want to keep practicing the simple things so that I won't forget how to walk in the garden.