Blessed is the one . . . whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers. ~ Psalm 1:1-3
Recently I learned that a grove of beautiful, old growth trees in my neighborhood will be cut down soon. I have loved seeing them on my walks. These majestic sentinels inspire awe, and I’ve often found myself giving thanks to the Lord for his beautiful creation. Though I understand that we need timber for housing, it seems that interspersing old stands of trees more generously among new housing areas would be a healthier environment for all. This would mean somebody losing money on those parcels of land, however. What is the answer? Environmentalists battle pragmatists, and everyone can make good arguments for their point of view. Of course, abuses occur on both sides as well.
Stewardship of the Earth
But it got me thinking, “What does wise stewardship of the earth mean?” Worldly optimism says that man, using his collective knowledge of science and technology will someday be able to figure out how to live harmoniously on the earth. Yet, regardless of human advances, a vast gap will always remain when it comes to understanding ultimate impact on others. Humans are simply finite. This in itself hinders the ability to rightly prioritize needs, not to speak of human greed and selfishness.
Genesis 2:15 says, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” This was Adam’s assignment. How did God foresee that man would ever rise to such a monumental task?
God’s Intention for Man
Genesis 3:9 implies that God and Adam had a habit of walking together in the garden. What would they talk about? Surely they would discuss Adam’s work, and God would be advising, instructing, guiding. I can just picture Adam dreaming about cutting down some trees in one area of the garden so that he could install a pond and how excited he would be to share his ideas with the Lord. And I can imagine how the Lord would delight in Adam’s enthusiasm. They would discuss all the angles of impact on the environment and develop a wise plan. Together.
We may resist the idea of Adam working this dependently on the Lord. He had his instructions to rule and subdue. Couldn’t he just get on with it? No. Precisely here is why we are in such environmental trouble today with unprecedented water, air, noise, light, and food pollution, not to speak of the continuous exposure to mind pollution through the electronic world. You see, we were never meant to live in a state of independence from God. Through the fall, we became self-determined, insistent on going our own way. We do not see our need, our limitations. We are too proud and blind to accept that, apart from God, we do not have what it takes to to rule and subdue. Environmental debates that leave out God miss the most important piece of the solution.
A Beaver, a Willow, and Me
Some time ago, a beaver chewed down my treasured willow tree. Needless to say, I was very unhappy with Mr. Beaver, but he was only trying to take care of his family. Now if I were in the Garden of Eden, I would have a serious topic on hand for the evening stroll with God. “Lord,” I would ask, “How do you want me to handle this annoying beaver? Do I need to grow extra trees for him so he’ll leave my next willow alone? Or maybe you’d consider talking with him about boundaries?” Ah, those would be fun conversations! And you’d always come away with the perfect, happy solution.
Where I hope these meandering musings lead us today is to remind us once again of our great need to rely on God . . . whether it involves people or the environment . . . or even a particularly aggravating beaver.
“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me” (John 15:4)