A glance at Genesis reveals the paradise of peace that God intended from the beginning. Genesis 3 depicts God walking in the garden in the cool of the day. In the beginning Adam and Eve had easy access to their Creator. Because of their relationship with him, they enjoyed perfect peace—a sense of wholeness, well-being, completeness, safety, and health. Words for sickness, confusion, pain, and death hadn’t even been invented because no one had ever experienced these things. But then something tragic happened—or failed to happen. They failed to listen, failed to trust, failed to follow. Instead they went their own way. And their choice to head in another direction led them in the worst direction of all—straight into exile. Being cast out of paradise, they ended up living in a land of thistles and thorns.
Though the human race experienced a tragic fall from grace, we know that God has not given up on us. Revelation tells us that at the end of time, after the smoke has cleared, we will see God face-to-face. And when we see him, we will experience the perfect peace for which we long. Nothing we need, nothing we desire, will be missing—not one thing. That’s the end game. Knowing God. Going to God. Seeing God, not “only a reflection as in a mirror,” as Paul characterized the way we currently see (1 Corinthians 13:12). The goal is to see God clearly, to have what has been called the “beatific vision,” an experience that will transform our eternity. Now we catch glimpses of God, then we will see him as he is.
But God is shy. He inflicts himself on no one and recedes from those who will not follow him. Or perhaps he is not shy but merciful, unwilling to indulge our error by blessing us with his presence. Maybe he withdraws, hoping we will turn back and follow him closely once more, desperate for his presence and eager for his peace.
Until we see God face-to-face, the peaceful life is not about ease. It’s not about finding the perfect relationship. It’s not about collecting all the treasures and gadgets we can stuff into our pockets. It’s not about turning back or settling down. It’s about keeping to the path until we reach our final destination in the arms of God.