This Side Of Eden

This Side Of Eden

…Finding our way home

David Johnson

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All posts by David Johnson

Introductions…

When I first met Kevin I think we were both nervous.  We had arrived as Asbury Theological Seminary, and were staying in the townhouses for a few weeks while the dorms were being renovated.  We didn’t come out of our own rooms very much for the first few weeks.

When we finally did come out of our rooms, we hit it off pretty well.  But when we finally discovered that we would be roommates in the dorm itself, thinks really began to click.

While we’ve hardly known each other for two years, it is one of those life-long friendships…the kind that feels like we’ve grown up together.

 

Kev, Dav, Colb

I can’t think of anyone else that I would like to share the experience of blogging with…so, Kevin new has an account with this side of Eden, and you may see posts from him occasionally.

Welcome to This Side of Eden, Kevin.  The journey home has been a lot more fun and meaningful with you in it.

Attentive: Darkness to Light

The poetic nature of the book of Genesis has an interesting refrain…”There was evening, and there was morning.”

The blog has a new look now.  If you are visiting the first time, my wife says it used to looked scary.  Black…with orange-ish, red-ish writing.  It was dark…  But as I mentioned in an early post, New Look…New Attitude, life for me isn’t as dark as it used to be…the sun has risen!

The tradition in Jewish faith is to actually begin the day at sunset of the previous day…this belief stems from the scriptures in Genesis mentioned above.  But theologically, I think it is important also.  It allows for the move from darkness to light each day…much like our journey toward God.

We begin in the darkness on This Side Of Eden, and as God calls us closer, and we approach, the light from Eden begins to shine upon us.  This blog is an example of that for me.

What are some of the things in your life that have been in darkness, but are now being exposed to the light?

Perfect: No Need for the Reset…

I like to play video games.  Mostly sports games, because they don’t last too long in one sitting, and because it can be mindless for me…no tough storyline or “quest” to be a part of.  What I normally do with a sports game is play “career mode”, which allows me to create a player and lead that player through his 10-15 year career.  It probably doesn’t sound exciting to many of you…but again…we’re going for mindless entertainment.

What I notice about myself is that even though I start with the intention of completing a 10-15 year career with a player, I rarely make through the first year.  I stop and reset when I’m no longer satisfied with my player’s stats.  I strike out too many times…or throw too many interceptions…etc., and then I start all over.

Essentially, I’m trying to be perfect.  At least in the game…  What I find is that this little compulsion I have to being perfect in the game, actually ends up making me feel pretty terrible about myself.  I know it sounds silly, a game, setting my mood for the day…but it’s true.  So then I try even harder to be perfect, and simply get more and more upset…I thought this was supposed to be mindless????

In the past few weeks, I’ve recognized this, and have made it a discipline of mine to just play the game…continue the career, no matter how the results end up.  The interesting thing is that I really do feel better.  Even though the player in the game doesn’t have perfect stats, he’s actually making it into the second and third years of his career!

I know how crazy I sound…but it’s me.

And I am certain that when we are told to “be perfect” in scriptures, it has NOTHING to do with a video game…

Part of being perfect, I think, is remembering that we won’t have perfect “stats”.  “Stats” are a measurement, but being perfect is action.  At the end of the day, did we do all we could to bring about the Kingdom of God?  In my eyes, that’s what this “perfection” thing is about.  Life doesn’t have a “reset” button.  We can’t just get a “do-over”, and erase the past and begin again.  Part of being perfect is that we live perfectly into the mistakes that we’ve made.  We seek forgiveness as God forgives.  We offer love as God loves.  We offer mercy as God is merciful…and each day work to live into the image of our Creator.

Are there things in your life that you try to have perfect “stats” with?

Category = Perfect

“You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” -(Matthew 5:48, ESV)

I have this great desire to be perfect. All my life I feel like people have said, “nobody’s perfect.” But then we have this scripture…telling us, commanding us…to be perfect.

What are we to make of that?

So we have the category “Perfect”. Here my desire is to talk thru what it might mean to be perfect…and to tell stories of those who seem to act with perfection. Posts related to this will all be in the “perfect” category.

If we are catching glimpses from This Side Of Eden…then we may very well be catching glimpses of perfection.

To start the conversation…what do you…yes you…think it means to be perfect?

Category = Attentive

“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.”   – (Hebrews 2:1)

Jesus often encouraged those around him with comments like “those who have ears, let him hear,” and “those who have eyes, let them see.”  It seems that much of what Jesus desired for us was to pay attention. What we were to pay attention to?  God…and the story that God is telling.  For us, much of that is found in the Holy Scriptures.  That is where the history of our faith is found.  That is where HisStory is found.  If we pay attention, we can find where that story intersects with ours.

So the new category of blog posts – “Attentive”.

These posts will carry the theme of how God’s story is intersecting with my life…and hopefully, yours as well.  I invite you to check back often, and engage the conversation when you feel appropriate.

If we are going to see glimpses of Eden…we must learn to be “Attentive.”

New Look…New Attitude

For a long time I’ve lived in darkness.

Or at least I’ve represented my life that way on this blog…

And to some extent that’s been true.  If you’ve followed from the beginning…hello mother…then you’ll know a bit of the journey that I’ve been on.  This Side of Eden started with a separation from my wife, subsequent divorce, and many life-altering events.

That was nearly 5 years ago.  Interestingly, my first post was entitled “Rebirth”.  In retrospect, rebirth was what I hoped for, but I believe that has only now finally occurred.

We’re still on This Side of Eden.  We haven’t made it home yet.  But, for me at least, I’m catching the glimpses more frequently as I peer through fog…life isn’t as dark as it used to be.

So here’s to a new look.  A brighter reflection of the life we called to live into.  A brighter reflection of the attitude I’m receiving by the grace of God.  There are some thoughts whisping in my mind (kind of like Dumbledore and the pensieve) about how life… and this blog… may be different, other than the look…more to come as those thoughts become a bit more tangible.

Problem Solved…

I don’t know what it is about the anniversary of the death of Grandparent’s that spurs me to write.  It was two years ago today that my Grandmother died.  I remember writing a few years ago before she died about an experience I had with her.  I wrote the post, I have a problem with my….  Grandma was describing to me, in one of her most lucid moments, that she had a problem with her memory…but just as she was getting it out, the thought was gone.  It was a moment I will never forget.

And to think back, it’s nice to know that the problem is solved.  Thanks be to God for ultimate healing and resurrection.

Apple Pie

I haven’t had apple pie in a long time.  To be honest, I don’t like pie very much…there just seems to be so many other desserts out there.

But the last time I had apple pie was probably my grandmothers…which was supreme apple pie (even though I don’t like pie, I did like THAT pie).  I remember how dinner wasn’t over until we had our pie.  I remember how grandpa would always ask for “just a sliver” every time.  Apple pie reminds me of those times.

So, today, when I walked past the student center, I was offered a full apple pie, still warm.  Don’t know how or why I was offered, but it was there, so I accepted.  I have two roommates in my townhouse (dorms are currently being renovated, so townhouse for the time being), and while we have this fantastic living space, the three of us have mostly confined ourselves to our rooms.

Until tonight, with apple pie.  It brought out great conversation, one roommate asked for only a small piece, (“a sliver” I had to think to myself), and it just reminded me a bit of home.

I may start liking apple pie after all.

Arrived

I’ve met about 130 people.

I’ve shared the standard “get to know you” questions with at least 50 of them.

Tomorrow, I will remember the names of perhaps 4 of them.

I’ve eaten, I’ve played, I’ve prayed, I’ve worshiped.

I haven’t studied…yet.

I’m tired of small talk, and yearning for the depth that I know will come with time.

I’m tired, but probably won’t sleep much.

And as I’m writing this…I have one new facebook friend request.  Thanks Brian.  Make that 5 names I’ll remember tomorrow.

All that said, it completely feels like home.  I’m glad I’ve arrived.

Oh…and by Brian, I meant Bryan.  At least it would have sounded the same.

The Three Monks of Tolstoy

“Three Russian monks lived on a faraway island.  Nobody ever went there, but one day their bishop decided to make a pastoral visit.  When he arrived he discovered that the monks didn’t even know the Lord’s Prayer.  So he spent all his time and energy teaching them the “Our Father” and then left, satisfied with his pastoral work.  But when his ship had left the island and was back in the open sea, he suddenly noticed the three hermits walking on the water – in fact, they were running after the ship!  When they reached it they cried, “Dear Father, we have forgotten the prayer you taught us.”  The bishop, overwhelmed by what he was seeing and hearing, said, “But, dear brothers, how then do you pray?”  They answered, “Well, we just say, ‘Dear God, there are three of us and there are three of you, have mercy on us!'”  The bishop, awestruck by their sanctity and simplicity, said, “Go back to your island and be at peace.”

(Henri J. M. Nouwen, The Road to Daybreak: A Spiritual Journey, pg. 50)

Amen.

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