We are a story-telling family, composing on-the-spot homespun tales, filling up the long minutes of road trips with audio books, laughing together over replays from crazy conversations, and delighting in glory-moments together after the fact. As our family continually rotates in wider orbits, stories have become the fibers that connect us, that keep us known to one other.
I’m grateful that all our story threads are woven into the fabric of the huge over-arching narrative found in the pages of Scripture. This once-upon-a-time-that-really-happened got its start in the mind of God, but the plot first hunkered down in the idyllic setting of Eden. Nancy Guthrie picked up her pen, gathered up the tangled threads of that story set in a garden, and she moves forward in hope through the unfolding of God’s redemptive plan in her latest book, Even Better than Eden: Nine Ways the Bible’s Story Changes Everything about Your Story
On her meandering way from the thunderous God-force of creation to the end of the ages, she shares stunning truth about “what the original garden has to show us about the more secure, more satisfying, and more glorious garden we’re destined to live in forever, which will be even better than Eden.” (14) It’s easy to forget that Eden was born out of an uninhabitable wasteland on a planet that was “formless and empty.”
- Guthrie follows this story of wilderness through the Old Testament and the wanderings of the discontented Israelites, the ruins of Jerusalem after Nebuchadnezzar’s armies had had their way, and into the New Testament where Jesus passed His wilderness testing and Paul lived pinned down by a thorn in the flesh, but found contentment in his spiritual wilderness;
- Then, there’s the story of the tree, a symbol from Genesis to Revelation that pops up in the appearance of the lampstands in the Tabernacle and in prophetic symbolism. By grace, we are invited to find our way to the tree of life by way of Calvary’s tree;
- The story of God’s image is full of hope, for though it was marred, it was flawlessly revealed in Christ and will ultimately be restored in us;
- The story of clothing begins with God providing for Adam and Eve with love and tenderness that points to the truth that one day we will be beautifully clothed in “the greater glory Adam and Eve forfeited” (70);
- The story of the Bridegroom features Eve as the original bride in the very first wedding conducted by God which went terribly wrong. That pain resonated throughout Israel’s history, but the ruined bride will one day be restored and presented to God’s Son, the second Adam’
- The story of sabbath began before there was Law and remains as God’s gift;
- The story of offspring unpacks Psalm 91 within the greater context of God’s sovereignty over evil and the “Offspring of the Woman” (Jesus) who will put an end to evil once and for all;
- The story of a dwelling place assures believers of God’s intention to make His home with us–an intention that cannot be thwarted even by our own fumbling and fluctuating intention to cling to Him. The tabernacle, the temple, and God’s indwelling Spirit all bear witness to His zeal and devotion;
- Finally, the story of the city reveals that all of Scripture points toward the story of two cities– “the city of man and the city of God. And what matters most about your story is which city you have made your home.”
Nancy Guthrie renders biblical theology with beauty and a depth of emotion that motivates me to become a better learner, and a more passionate student of Scripture and observer of life. A firm grasp on the gospel-oriented-big-picture of the Bible’s 66 books will change the way you read. God takes a long view of goodness and hope, and his promises for our welfare point to a life that exponentially transcends the three-score-and-ten we fixate upon.
A good foundation in biblical theology also impacts on the way we pray. For example, God’s promise of protection in Psalm 91 is not the lucky-rabbit’s foot that means our children will “never face danger or death in this life. But [rather that God] has promised to gather his own to himself, where he will protect them from ultimate and eternal harm.”
Following the threads of these nine stories reinforced my understanding of God as both transcendent and relational. Finding myself within the context of His desires for me — a hope that far exceeds my own aspirations for myself and those I love — opens my eyes to the beauty of struggle and the redemptive nature of waiting as we fix our eyes upon the unseen, and trust God for a future home that will be truly (and amazingly!) even better than Eden.
Many thanks to Crossway for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which, of course, is offered freely and with honesty.
Grace and peace to you,
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