This article was adapted from Paul W. Martin’s Unfragmented: Shalom in a Shattering World
When my wife Sharon and I returned to Kansas in 2015 after serving eleven years as missionaries in Africa, where none of the infrastructure systems were dependable, we experienced reverse culture shock. In Africa we learned to live with the possibility that water, electricity, transportation could go down at any time for any length of time.
In wrestling through this change, we realized that even the “normal” way of life we take for granted in America, may not necessarily be reliable all the time. There are earthquakes, floods, tornados and other natural disasters. Life happens!
From the beginning, the Creator granted humankind stewardship over his creation. He said to them,“Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it” (Gen 1:26-28, NIV). The garden environment designed to provide abundant life and peace, became morally and spiritually diseased. So profound was Adam and Eve’s act of rebellion, that the glory of Eden’s shalom garden was corrupted. The curse issued by the Creator at the time of the Fall included strong words to Adam, “Cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you will eat of it . . . both thorns and thistles it will grow for you; . . . by the sweat of your face you will eat bread until you return to the ground (Gen. 3:17-19).
Deep inside, we all love that place where life is as it is supposed to be. Something in us reaches for the pre-Fall Life of peace, harmony, balance, wholeness designed by the supernatural Creator—the life of Shalom, that grand garden of our beginnings.
But, we experience so much dissonance, the disharmony, the imbalances, natural catastrophes, and the ‘sweat of the brow’ consequences of exploitation, greed, and manipulation—all for human privilege and gain. Today the “whole creation” groans (Rom. 8:22).
So Sharon and I started pursuing a more sustainable lifestyle on a piece of Kansas soil, realizing that it’s from God-given resources that all life sustenance is derived. We began homesteading to raise all of our own food, collect water and live simply, not because we were politically motivated or extreme preppers, but because we understood and respected that the earth belongs to our Creator. We are stewards, entrusted to the care of His life-sustaining garden, His creatures and critters. We wanted to do our part in cultivating this little plot of land in Kansas to be sustainable, and lovingly work it, using farming principles outlined in scripture for both food and the beauty of our gardens.
The good news for authentic believers is that one day the imbalances of the Fall will be reversed and unchallenged by Evil, the Creator will restore and heal the sin-broken, groaning creation, He will restore us to that Shalom peace and Eden once again!