How many of us remember the commercial for the major telecommunications company in the U.S. where the guy is pictured on his mobile phone in various settings, saying “Can you hear me now?” This past Sunday, we had a guest speaker at our church who taught on Stewardship of Creation. So where is the connection between the two?
This visitor opened with the statement that the scriptures tell us that God speaks to us in many ways, one of which is through creation (Romans 1:20) and that every time a species of creation, be it animal, insect or plant, becomes extinct, part of what God speaks to us is lost. He gave the startling statistic that since 1970, it has been determined that we have lost 58% of all creatures living on the earth. As I listened, my active imagination not really pictured, but almost ‘heard’ a person speaking, his voice getting fainter and fainter. My immediate thought was “Forgive us, Lord! It is like we are deliberately blocking our ears, deliberately trying to extinguish your voice!”
I really love nature. One of my favorite things is to go on my evening walks. It puts me in mind of God and Adam walking in the garden of Eden “in the cool of the evening”. I’m an avid, if amateur, bird watcher. I could go on game drives or walks every day and not get tired of seeing the antelopes, giraffes (my favorites, incidentally), zebra, wildebeest, and even warthogs that live near us…for now. I enjoy watching the geckos that lurk in dark corners of our house, occasionally startling us when they fall or jump to safety. I even cringe when I kill an unsavory insect that looks like it stings…and not just because of the gooey mess! I love going outside on a star-spangled night and just gazing at all the constellations, in awe of the immensity of it all (Psalm 19:1). A favorite hobby is to experiment with close-up photography of flowers. And who can beat hiking in the mountains and savoring the roar, power, and beauty of a waterfall?
We moved out here to Lukenya Hill area in 2004. At that time, we could walk in the evening and only 5 minutes from our house we might run into giraffe or deer, browsing among the thorn bushes and tall sisal plants. It was a common experience. Now the land all around us has been sold and fences cover the land, marking every individual’s little plot. Houses are springing up all over like mushrooms and a wall enclosing a soon-to-be-erected warehouse blocks a major migration path for wildlife, preventing many from reaching a vital permanent watering spot on the Lukenya Hill during the dry season. Factories are also springing up everywhere, illegally, like poisonous plants. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against all development. We ourselves bought land here and built a ministry center/home. But there is something evil about the unrestrained, unregulated, even illegal development that is happening here in the Lukenya area. It is destroying the ecosystem, killing, or driving away the wildlife from their natural habitat. At best, it is irresponsible.
Back to the sermon… After getting me all riled up with painting such a dim picture of the totally irresponsible and even wicked way in which mankind has treated this creation which God had entrusted to us to care for – something that I had already been upset over – he asks the question “So, what do we do? Is there hope?” “Yes, is there indeed?” I mused. “It has gotten so bad, I fear it may be beyond help”. The speaker took us to 2 Chronicles 7:13-14, where God said “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain (yup, that’s us now, in the midst of a nasty drought!), or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” What a promise! God doesn’t even require that all mankind repent and change. He doesn’t say we must do many hard things, mammoth heroic tasks. He told His people (that’s us Christians, folks) to do 4 simple (yet not always easy for us) tasks: humble ourselves, pray, seek Him and turn away from our wicked ways. Note God is talking about His people’s wicked ways, not the wicked ways of the world! If I toss a plastic bag I’m through with on the road, I am being wicked. If I waste precious water, I am being wicked. If I do not protest the erection of an illegal factory being built contrary to zoning laws, I might as well be in league with the lawbreakers. By doing nothing, I am being wicked. He also says that if we do those 4 things, He has promised to do 3: to hear, to forgive, and then to heal the land. Ah, Lord God, how we need that healing!
As the speaker wound up his message, hope began to dawn in my heart. I began to ‘hear’ the voice coming back. I could picture this place like the Garden of Eden. Hope, and a renewed determination to do what I can, when I can, and however I can, began to rise within me. I can start with my everyday life. I can conserve the precious little water we have. I can recycle as much as possible. I can avoid polluting my own environment. Then, I can move beyond my own personal world and encourage others to do the same. We can get the community together, sensitize them on the peril facing our environment, clean it up (littering & pollution is atrocious here) and work towards keeping it clean. We can plant trees and gardens and tend them. We can even move beyond that and fight the illegal and unrestrained development going on around us. We can be a community that cares.
Sound idealistic? Unreachable? Perhaps. It might not change much in my life time. But as for me, I only need do my part. Perhaps for our children and children’s children it will be a different picture if I do my part. Let us all fulfill the 4 requirements of 2 Chronicles 7:14 and watch God do what He has promised. It only takes God’s people doing the right thing.