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Episode 01 : In the Garden

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Hi, welcome to the Let’s Grow Podcast with Bree Blum!

In our very first episode of the podcast, you get to hear a bit of the backstory of my misconceptions of Faith and how I discovered the truth, in the garden.

Intentional Filling

The Lord’s Prayer
Psalm 23
Jars of Clay debut album
Noah’s Ark
Spring Heights
Genesis 3:14-15
Garden of Gethsemane
Garden of Eden
Let’s Grow Podcast Page

Transcript of Episode 01 : In the Garden

I was raised in the same church that my parents got married in and where I was baptized as an infant.  Some of my earliest memories include coloring pictures of Jesus and Noah’s Ark – not in the same image of course – with Miss Nelly in church’s nursery, and I could not wait until I got old enough to go downstairs to the big kid classrooms for Sunday School.

I grew up on kool-aide and cookies in VBS and learned to read because I wanted to figure out what was up with those naked people covered in leaves on the first page of my children’s Bible.

I was your average, conservative church kid – polite, mild-mannered, and full of questions.

But the questions never truly got answered.

In the tradition of faith that we practiced, United Methodism, it was never clearly spelled out why it is that I believe what I believe.  I mean, I knew all about Jesus and God and occasionally heard the Holy Spirit mentioned, but I didn’t have any true grasp on what it had to do with me, other than I needed to be good so that I could go to heaven to see Jesus someday.  Ok, sounds good.

I knew there was something more there, but I just didn’t know what questions to even begin to ask.  So this ember of curiosity just burned hotter as I stacked more unknowns higher on the pile.

One summer, though I’m not entirely sure how because I was incredibly shy, I was signed up to attend a week of church camp.  I’d never been this far away from home without my parents and certainly not to spend a week in the woods with a backpack on my back and a sleeping bag for a bed.

But God met me there.  In the midst of my confusion and questions and pondering, He slowly unearthed just the tiniest bit of who He is and how I play a role in His story.

I was intrigued, and at the end of the week, when my parents were certain that I’d come home in tears, and beg to never leave home again, I instead begged to go back for another week.

And I did return for a week at a time for several summers, and each week God met me there at Spring Heights, in the midst of His beautiful creation.  And at the end of the meadow, the week I attended as a 16-year-old boy-crazy high schooler, I gave my heart to another boy, one who died on a cross to save my soul.

But a week’s worth of a “Jesus-high” only lasts so long, and soon enough I graduated high school and entered college, which meant that I needed a summer job and well, I didn’t have time for Sunday School, let alone spending my summer at church camp.

My faith was still a huge part of who I was, but at that point, it was more of a memento hanging from the rearview mirror, rather than the driving force behind my life.

I graduated college with a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and a minor in Special Ed – so I immediately signed up for the sub list when I didn’t find a teaching gig right out of school.  And when the church revamped one of the storage rooms into a classroom, I accepted the role as a high school Sunday School teacher.

I was 24 at the time, and it was my first place to “make my own” and so I decorated it with dollar store décor and furnished it with a coffee pot, an eclectic collection of mugs, and a CD player to play some of my favorite worship tunes on low.  A couple of girls in my class and I officially dubbed it the “Cup Runneth Over Café” and we loved the space.

Real conversations took place there and the girls found a safe haven to talk about strained friendships, boys, and how hard it is to be a Christian in the real world.  We all longed to go back to Spring Heights where loving God comes naturally and is accepted and appreciated.

But digging into the Bible, well, we did that on occasion, but I never felt equipped to answer their questions, so we kept things pretty surface-level.  Nonetheless, I prayed that God would fill in the gaps where I couldn’t.

When a mention of a child safety course popped up at church with the director of Spring Heights name as the instructor, I immediately signed up.  Though I wasn’t sure he’d still remember me from my weeks that I served as a counselor-in-training as a 17-year-old, I was eager to see him and talk camp.

And much to my surprise he did remember me and took the time to learn about what I had been up to following the training session.  He even invited me to join him that summer on staff as a cabin counselor – which I immediately accepted.

You’ll hear more stories from those days in time, but I tell you heading back to Spring Heights felt like coming home and I again I found God unearthing more of my faith that summer.  So much so that I shared my desire to find a way to “work with kids, and somehow have God in the mix” with Reverend Keller and he sent me home at the end of camp with a packet of papers.

I read through the packet that included different approaches to ministry, including attending seminary. And though I’m always up for learning new things, that didn’t feel quite right.  But his call a few weeks later with the news of a program he was putting together at camp screamed YES from the depth of my bones.

And so that fall I packed up and moved to church camp – a place that has always felt like a homecoming – to live and work full-time as the Program Director.

But I still didn’t understand my faith or truly grasp the gospel message.

[Sponsored Message]

Fast forward five years, several different jobs, a degree in Sign Language interpretation, and a move to a new church later and I was still trying to pinpoint just how my faith and my life connected.

My church did a sermon series on the “one story” – connecting the story of God and His people throughout Scripture.

At that time, I was serving as a team interpreter for the worship services, so I would take turns with another interpreter to take the spoken message of the sermon and interpret them into American Sign Language.  It was taxing mentally and physically, but I loved serving the church in that capacity.  But I had no idea just how taxing it would be spiritually with this particular sermon series.

Pastor Tim started the series at the beginning – a very good place to start – and shared with us the story of Genesis, as I stood in the front corner and signed along.  And then he broke down the Scripture to explain what was happening in chapter 3, verses 14 & 15.

So the Lord God said to the serpent,
“Because you have done this, ‘Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals!  You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.  And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

Pastor Tim spoke plainly, but it was as if a bomb went off as he said – “the offspring that will crush the head of the serpent is a clear prophecy of Jesus and his mission – to defeat sin, death, and Satan”.

Uh, excuse me!  What?

How had I never connected the curse of the serpent with the promise of Jesus?

The revelation of my faith wasn’t through Jesus’ tears in the Garden of Gethsemane as He surrendered to the will of the Father to die on the cross in my place.  No, it was in a different Garden, the Garden of Eden – through the story that I longed to understand as a child.

So you’re probably wondering, how is it possible to go 30 years and not know… not understand the gospel message, not connect Jesus to every passage in the Bible?

And my answer is clearly this – growing up, I adopted a very me-centric faith.  I heard the stories of scripture and I thought they were morals to teach me right from wrong… and they were to an extent, but the moral of the story is – the Bible and its story were never about me.

It’s always been about Jesus.  Even in the garden.

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