‘One Perennial Spring’—A Kingdom of Wholeness
I hate winter! Ok, now that you know I can state a hate succinctly, perhaps this will help you understand. I spent several years in the tropics, and yes, I’m spoiled. I really hate winter! On the Kansas plains in January, the thermometer might show 10°, but the prevailing Northerly may have the wind chill at -15°. Burr ! ! So, Wesley’s expression of “one perennial spring” as one descriptor of when the Sovereign reigns again over a renewed creation enchants me! You’ll get more of his quite descriptive words at the end of this post.
And when cold winds blow at faith (a few of those on the whirl in our times?), I anchor in the realization that our Sovereign King is at work. His Kingdom is coming! In due course, we will see it in full flower! All that we now see in earthly kingdoms will pale in comparison to the glory yet to be unveiled.
I invite you to further devotional contemplation on some ‘big rocks’ of our faith in considering the “unshakeable Kingdom” (see Heb 12:26-29). First, let’s consider some context.
Humankind’s Greatest Loss . . . But There’s More
I have been helped in my understanding of what was involved our human family’s loss of incredible embrace of Eden’s shalom as I have read various writers. One helpful model is found in H. Ray Dunning in Grace, Faith and Holiness. The author wrote of the damage, the distortion that came to the relationships the human family knew in the first garden. Dunning wrote of the imago, the image of God in humankind, as being “identified as a fourfold relation: to God, to other persons, to the earth, and to self.” The author wrote, “We characterized these relations in the state of integrity as freedom for God, freedom for the other person, freedom from the earth, and freedom from self-domination. All of these relations were disrupted by the Fall, and man stands in need of having the relations restored by the redemptive process.”
Then comes this highly insightful passage:
These four relationships constitute what the Hebrew word shalom (peace) signifies. It means far more than the absence of conflict. It involves the harmony of an individual with himself, with nature, with the world of people, and clearly with God. In his description of the state of integrity, Elmer Martens beautifully describes this situation: “But in Eden, as the opening chapters of Genesis describe it, that wholeness exists. Man is in tune with God. Adam and Eve are unashamed with each other; they live in harmony with themselves as well as with animals. Not only their needs but their desires are fully met. Here is the perfect state.”
Thus shalom best describes the Edenic, pre-Fall state; but even more, it is the summary term that encompasses the goal toward which all God’s redemptive acts are directed. He desires to transform the present fragmented state into healing and wholeness.
As we ponder this passage, and certainly in relation to my prior three blog posts, we may relate to some reflections for spiritual life:
The Designer’s Plan for the Human Family Is Superb!
It was in the beginning; it’s what He has at heart; it will be finally set forth in glory. Harmony, balance, wholeness, well-being, completeness, peace—and more. It was all there in the first garden home. Communion—with the Creator, with one another, with nature, and peace within one’s own person. The Maker had relationships at heart! These included all relationships the human family could have. How could those relationships have been any higher, any nobler, any more blessed? !
Lest, however, we get hung up on the beauty of the ‘firsts’ in the primeval garden, let’s come to real life in today’s world. For those who come to know their Maker in personal salvation, step into the way of shalom, what do they experience through the grace of God? Healing and wholeness of broken relationships—the four as cited by Dunning. Amazing things often happen in the transforming moment, while some healing may come more through time, by God’s grace at work. But where there have been deep breaks in human relationships, it is amazing what the grace of God does in bringing healing and wholeness. Christ’s transforming grace is big even where there are broken spousal relationships. It, of course, does not mean that it is always possible, or sometimes even wise, for ex-spouses to re-enter that relationship again, though, of course, at times this happens. It does mean, however, that the grace of God is so powerful, so BIG, that the life and the attitude can be transformed and that one can know deep within that God has done a work so real that a person can love the one who had become an adversary.
Wholeness of relationships. The Master’s design. Relationships matter to Him! They did at the start; they do today.
A second point, a powerful one, from the above passage:
The Kingdom is the “Goal Toward Which All God’s Redemptive Acts are Directed”
Incredible initiative—redemption! The end goal—the Kingdom, beyond imagination!
Pondering this truth speaks powerfully to who God is! God of mercy, God of grace! He’s up to a BIG objective! How much bigger can the operation and the goal be? ! At this stage we cannot grasp all that’s involved in the Maker’s grand saga of redemption. “Now we see through a glass, darkly” (1 Cor. 13:12, KJV). “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Cor 2:9, KJV). “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. . . . the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God” (Rom 8:18-19, 21, NIV).
Count me in! These, and numerous other passages speak of the glory of what is ahead for those who enter the Kingdom and remain faithful. What motivation for walking with our Master, for trekking the valleys as well as the high places, for faithfulness through ‘thick and thin’!
Let’s note a third thought out of the above passage:
The Kingdom Word is Shalom—Wholeness
The passage cites shalom as the word that best describes the pre-Fall state in Eden. Shalom was the Creator’s original design. Through His redemptive initiatives, His final Kingdom word will again be shalom. A shalom Kingdom—Kingdom of wholeness.
Wesley wrote of the time when again the Sovereign will reign over a renewed creation:
The whole brute creation will then, undoubtedly, be restored, not only to the vigour, strength, and swiftness which they had at their creation, but to a far higher degree of each than they ever enjoyed. They will be restored, not only to that measure of understanding which they had in paradise, but to a degree of it as much higher than that, as the understanding of an elephant is beyond that of a worm. And whatever affections they had in the garden of God, will be restored with vast increase; being exalted and refined in a manner which we ourselves are not now able to comprehend. The liberty they then had will be completely restored, and they will be free in all their motions. They will be delivered from all irregular appetites, from all unruly passions, from every disposition that is either evil in itself, or has any tendency to evil. No rage will be found in any creature, no fierceness, no cruelty, or thirst for blood. So far from it that “the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid; the calf and the young lion together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall feed together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain.” (Isaiah 11:6, &c.)
Thus, in that day, all the vanity to which they are now helplessly subject will be abolished; they will suffer no more, either from within or without; the days of their groaning are ended. At the same time, there can be no reasonable doubt, but all the horridness of their appearance, and all the deformity of their aspect, will vanish away, and be exchanged for their primeval beauty. And with their beauty their happiness will return; to which there can then be no obstruction. As there will be nothing within, so there will be nothing without, to give them any uneasiness: No heat or cold, no storm or tempest, but one perennial spring. In the new earth, as well as in the new heavens, there will be nothing to give pain, but everything that the wisdom and goodness of God can create to give happiness. As a recompence for what they once suffered, while under the “bondage of corruption,” when God has “renewed the face of the earth,” and their corruptible body has put on incorruption, they shall enjoy happiness suited to their state, without alloy, without interruption, and without end (emphasis added).
‘One perennial spring’! Allelujah!
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 H. Ray Dunning, Grace, Faith and Holiness (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 1988), pp. 485-486.
 Elmer Martens, God’s Design (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1981), 28; quoted in Dunning, Grace, Faith, and Holiness, p. 486.
 Dunning, Grace, Faith and Holiness, p. 486.
 John Wesley, “The General Deliverance” in The Works of John Wesley, Vol 2, ed. Albert C. Outler, Bicentennial Edition (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1985), pp. 446-447.