When Verna van Nuland was 66 years old, doctors told her that her chances of living much more than a year were slim. She’d been diagnosed with a long list of chronic ailments and prescribed an equally long list of medications—all in an attempt to keep her alive to see another year.
Verna had spent her life in service to others. In her hometown of Appleton, Wisconsin, she was known as the “Flower Lady” because she operated a very successful flower shop. Hundreds of couples had promised to love and honor each other while surrounded by the color and fragrance of Verna’s handiwork. Now, as she faced her retirement years, it seemed that all the color and fragrance in her life had vanished.
“I spent years taking care of business and very little time taking care of myself,” Verna admits. “My health was so poor that I could hardly get out of bed. The simple act of showering left me exhausted. Many times I’d slowly make my way to a nearby mall and spend the day in the food court so that, if I died, someone would find me.”
That’s when something amazing happened. Verna discovered a set of health laws that God Himself had set in motion at the same time that He created the flowers that Verna arranged and sold. The Flower Lady came face-to- face with a powerful truth: those ancient, often ignored health laws established by God in Eden still make sense today.>
Beyond the guarded gate
We can only imagine the sorrow that filled Adam and Eve’s hearts as they stood looking at the gate separating them from what used to be their garden home. They’d made a choice to live by their own rules instead of God’s. They’d set their feet on a path that would lead to their own destruction while setting their Creator’s feet on a path that would lead to Calvary. Because of their choices, they were banned from the Garden, and an angel was posted to guard the gate.
No longer would Adam and Eve be in complete control of their environment. They had given that important responsibility to the same evil force that had turned their hearts from God. They’d chosen to live by a very different set of laws—including those that determined the level of health they enjoyed and even how long they lived.
But God didn’t give up. Like any good parent, He wanted to stay connected with His wayward children. He kept pressing His love into their lives, even when His presence wasn’t fully appreciated or recognized. As human appetites began to include a taste for animal flesh, the Creator attempted to reduce the dangers inherent with meat consumption by instructing Noah, right after the Flood, “Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything” (Genesis 9:3). Then He quickly added a warning: “But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it” (verse 4).
Generations later, as the children of Israel were stumbling across the Egyptian desert, God saw that their food supply was running dangerously low. So, He fired up the heavenly ovens and baked up a brand-new gift. “I will rain down bread from heaven for you,” He announced in Exodus 16:4. The Bible says that the people called the bread “manna.” It was “white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey” (verse 31).
Unfortunately, the people soon became tired of the manna. “If only we had meat to eat!” they whined. “We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost. . . . But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!” (Numbers 11:5, 6). So, God altered His plan just enough to allow great flocks of quail to land nearby, providing the flesh food the wanderers demanded (verses 31, 32). But the quail were diseased, and many of the people died (verses 33, 34).
So it went beyond the gates of Eden: God providing and humans complaining. Generation after generation turned their backs on God’s perfect health plan—the one He’d created before the fall of Adam and Eve, the one optimized for health and longevity, the one designed to keep human hearts, muscles, and organs working at full capacity forever. Sickness wasn’t an option before sin took hold of the human thought process. Sickness became the rule after those gates slammed shut.
This leads us back to those tightly closed gates at the entrance to the lost Garden. If everything that happened from that moment on demanded a compromise by the Creator God; if what we eat is designed to satisfy a sin-altered appetite, is it possible to push open those gates again and return to the Garden where we can enjoy what the Creator had in mind originally? Can we take advantage of God’s uncompromised health plan?
Verna van Nuland is living proof that just such an opportunity exists. Following the advice of a doctor who desperately wanted to provide the dying woman with a ray of hope, Verna enrolled in CHIP (Cardiac Health Improvement Program),* a lifestyle adjustment program centered on a whole-food, plant-based diet accompanied by moderate exercise and stimulating mental challenges. Within weeks, gone were the animal products from her refrigerator, including all dairy. Gone were the sugary sweets. Gone were the weekly glasses of wine. Gone were the junk foods and soda pops. It was as if she’d walked right back into the Garden of Eden when it came to food choices!
Something else began to fade from her life. Hypertension, chest pains, fatigue, reflux symptoms, obesity, and pain vanished. Under the careful scrutiny of her doctor, she discontinued all medications including oxygen, her blood pressure came under control, her cholesterol count dropped to safe levels, and her weight plummeted.
Today, five years later, instead of crawling to the local mall to await death, Verna bikes 50 miles a day when the weather permits, plays tag with her grandchildren, and looks forward to the sunshine streaming through her window each morning.
Yes, Verna boldly walked back through those gates and reentered Eden, adopting God’s ideal health plan as her own. Like Adam and Eve before the Fall, Verna is free to wander among the plants and animals unfettered by the lifestyle diseases plaguing so many today. She knows firsthand the full meaning of God’s words when He told His wandering people, “If you listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD who heals you” (Exodus 15:26).
Now in her seventies, Verna says, “I have to make right choices every day. I don’t have anything in my house that I shouldn’t be eating, because if I do, I will eat it until it’s gone. It’s like walking with the Lord; it’s about the minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day choices we make. When we get involved with our own health, it’s unbelievable what happens. I mean, I’m here because of right choices!”
Verna van Nuland’s story is being repeated thousands of times every day as more and more people walk back through those gates and return to God’s original, uncompromising health plan. They are choosing to “walk with the Lord” as Verna says, to place their faith in His sustaining power and the healing potential He packed in every morsel of that original whole-foods, plant-based diet.
Eden’s gates are open. We can stay out or go in. The choice is ours.