Garden of God’s Embrace: Introduction

There is a verse in the Book of Mormon that really stood out to me the last time that I read it.  The prophet Jacob has just been talking to his people about how the Jews will reject Jesus Christ, their only real hope and safe foundation.  He then asks a rhetorical question, not expecting an answer from the people. “And now, my beloved, how is it possible that these, after having rejected the sure foundation, can ever build upon it, that it may become the head of their corner?” 1 


I loved his response to his own question: “Behold, my beloved brethren, I will unfold this mystery unto you; if I do not, by any means, get shaken from my firmness in the Spirit, and stumble because of my over anxiety for you.” 2  


Jacob didn’t say “well, let me tell you really quickly in one sentence what will happen and then we can move on with our day.”  Instead, he says “I will unfold this mystery unto you.”  Unfold.  What a great word.  When you unfold something, you see one piece at a time until it all comes together into one great whole.  


Noah Webster defines the word unfold as: To open folds; to expand; to spread out; To open any thing covered or close; to lay open to view or contemplation; to disclose; to reveal; as, to unfold one’s designs; To declare; to tell; to disclose.  


Unfolding takes time.  


And what is it that Jacob is going to unfold?  A mystery.  Again, Webster defines mystery: A profound secret; something wholly unknown or something kept cautiously concealed, and therefore exciting curiosity or wonder.    

The nineteenth-century naturalist, Julia Ballard, writes, “We may learn that while ‘it is the glory of God to conceal a thing,’ He is not only willing we should search out these hidden wonders, but will Himself be glad in our new-found delight in them.” 3

God is full of mysteries.  It is through His mysteries that we come to know Him.  He loves to hide things in plain sight.  He also loves to see us seek out and find them.  Why else would He keep repeating the phrase, ‘seek and ye shall find’?   


So although Jacob could have given the answer in one quick sentence, he instead chooses to spend the entire next chapter – one hundred and one sentences, to be exact – giving the answer in the form of an allegory.  He unfolds the mystery.  


Perhaps one big reason why this unfolding of mystery stands out to me is because I can greatly relate to this for a couple of reasons. 


Firstly, I’m not a “short and sweet” kind of person. I tend to be pretty detailed and long-winded.  Part of this is because I love to think deeply about things and therefore I have a lot of thoughts to share. On top of that, I am often sorting through my thoughts out loud and piecing them together as I go.  The verbal sharing of the puzzle pieces in my heart and head often results in me coming to a better understanding of it all myself as I “think out loud.”  It is very frustrating to me when others tell me to “just get to the point”, as if I am intentionally trying to drag it out as long as possible just to cause them pain.  I’m not a “get to the point” kind of person, especially with topics that sink deep in my soul.  I am more of the “unfolding the mystery” type.   


Secondly, God, at least as far as I know Him, is the unfolding type as well.  Of course, He is the perfect articulator and says the perfect amount of words, not too many, not too few.  I don’t claim to have that trait.  But He rarely gets straight to the point.  He knows that is in the unfolding of it all where we find growth and joy.


“You can’t be a lazy learner with symbol, imagery, and ritual. You have to figure things out as they lie hidden in plain sight. … Mystery is the revelatory vehicle to help transport your mind and heart to other realms – in this case, the realm of heaven.” 4 


All of that is to say that there is a mystery that has been unfolding for me over the past few years.  And that is what I would like to share here.  I am using this space to “think out loud” and organize all of the thoughts and feelings that have been swirling around inside of me.  Thankfully, this computer that I am typing this on can’t tell me to “get to the point. I don’t have all day.” 


If I could put a title on this unfolding mystery, it would be “Garden of God’s Embrace : Joy and Rest in God’s Presence” because that is what I have been learning through all of this. 


I will be including a lot of quotes from resources that I’ve gathered over the years and I will insert my own thoughts along the way.  I want this book to be something that inspires any kindred spirits who “have all day” and choose to read it.  I also want it to be a record for myself and something that re-inspires me when I start to forget.


With that, let’s get to the point.  …ok, who am I kidding? 


With that, let’s unfold the mystery.


It all starts with a garden…



  1. Jacob 4:17
  2. Jacob 4:18     
  3. Julia P. Ballard, Insect Lives or Born in Prison, pg. 6
  4. Anthony Sweat, The Holy Invitation, pg. 47-48

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