I am blessed to live on the sea. I awaken each morning to the sound of gulls and splash of bottle-nose dolphins. Pelicans drift on invisible thermal currents, then dive for unsuspecting fish. White sand as soft as powdered sugar stretches as far as the eye can see against the changing-colors waves of the Gulf of Mexico. An occasional stingray breaks the water, and timid manatees graze the hidden sea grasses along the mangroves’ edge, while tending to their sea-cow babies. My favorite time of day is when the shadows are longest, just before ocean sunset. It is then that the cooling breezes arrive, the heat subsides, and bird song turns to whisper. Not a day goes by that I am not humbled by, and grateful for, the beauty of God’s creation. Not a day goes by that I’m not reminded of God’s majesty by the natural world around me. Living in such a place has brought me closer to God; it’s easier to see His reflection here than among things man-made.
Scripture tells us how intimately God and His creations are bound. Author Elyse Durham speculates that perhaps the beauty in God’s creations is to draw us to Him – to bring us closer. She writes, “If we pay close attention, we can see the created world as a perpetual testimony of who God is.” (“Did God Endow All His Creatures with an Appreciation of Beauty?”, Christianity Today, May 25, 2019) She continues, “When we experience the beauty of the natural world, God himself is calling to us. He is reminding us of the way things could be, if only we would follow him and tend his creatures.”
God’s creations not only reflect His love and majesty, their condition reflects how well we are following Him. The condition of God’s creations can provide warnings that we are on the wrong path. Jeff Schloss, a professor of biology at Westmont College, asserts that God has “designed us specifically to flourish when yielding to the good, and he’s given instruction on what the good is, for flourishing.” However, when we yield to sin, we alter God’s creation in ways that were not intended by God and we cannot flourish. When a dolphin washes up on the beach because it has been poisoned by human waste, or a sea turtle suffocates from the plastic it mistook for a jellyfish, that’s a reflection of our sins, not God. It’s a warning that we are not being good caretakers of God’s creations. Put another way, biologist Schloss asserts, “A tremendous amount of ecological deterioration is due ultimately to our idolatry by trying to fill our deepest yearnings with the stuff of creation rather than the creator.”
Scripture warns us that, “The land suffers for the sins of its people…”.(Isaiah 24:4) While it’s important that we delight in, and give thanks for, the beauty of nature that brings us closer to God, we should also ask forgiveness for its ecological deterioration at our hands. With God’s grace and help, we need to change as a people and as individuals to become the good caretakers of God’s creations that He has asked us to be.
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