Breathing crisp clean air reminds me what a Great Big God we serve and how much He must love us to have created such a beautiful home for us.
Take flowers, for example. The intricacy and variety of this single sample of God’s handiwork is mind-boggling. While there are likely many yet to be discovered, the current estimate of the world’s flowering plant species is estimated to be somewhere between 250,000 and 400,000. In just one four-square-mile section of the Earth’s rainforest, there can be found as many as 1,500 species of flowering plants.
Clearly, God does nothing half-way. He could have designed a dozen beautiful flowers for us to enjoy. But, instead, He created so many that we have yet to discover them all. His standards are sky high, His creativity limitless, and His ability to produce what is both functional and beautiful has no equal.
“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and to take care of it.”
– Genesis 2:15
Jim Hislop, Director of Leadership Development at Western Seminary wrote about this back in June 2014 in a blogpost titled God Designed Us to Partner with Him. In the piece, Jim shares his thoughts about how God directed mankind to care for the Earth and cause it to flourish so the needs of humanity are met. He writes,
God could have created the garden to be self-sustaining with no need for care, but He didn’t. Instead he created humans to ‘work’ the garden and to ‘take care’ of the garden with the idea of making it flourish. Genesis 2:5 sheds an interesting light on this: “Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground.” To answer this need, the following verses talk about the creation of Adam, the garden, and the reason for the creation of Adam, being “to work it (the garden) and take care of it (the garden).” Remember after God created male and female in His image, Gen 1:28 says, “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.’”
I wonder if, while God had finished all the work He was going to do, all the work He wanted done was not yet finished. Creation was “good” (actually “very good” – Gen 1:31) but not yet complete. I wonder if perhaps what God is saying to Adam is, “Here is what I’ve made (the garden) and it’s very good. Now you go and make the rest of the world look like this.”
God did, indeed, create a beautiful world for us –one that is perfectly designed to support human life and bring us pleasure. He could have stopped the creation process after having provided the barest necessities for human existence but He didn’t. He created flowers that are beautiful to look at and pleasant to smell. He gave us an enormous variety of foods to eat and then lovingly placed taste buds on our tongues so that we could enjoy the salty and sweet and spicy and sour.
He gave us majestic mountains and redwood trees and powerful oceans so we could catch just a glimpse of His sovereignty and His eminence. And He holds them all in place, maintaining the intricate structures that allow us to breathe and live and love.
The realization of this makes me want to take good care of His creation.
As Christians, we believe that, in His perfect timing, God will create a new heaven and a new earth. Our efforts, good or bad, to care for this current earthly home will neither prolong its existence or hurry it’s demise. That’s God’s purview.
But we are charged with tending to God’s creation, wisely and compassionately, as long as we are here. When we are greedy or thoughtless or lazy about taking care of the place God created for us to live out our Earthly lives, we disrespect Him and show little appreciation for what He so carefully and thoughtfully created for us.
So, here is my pledge.
There is more to do, I’m sure of it. But this is a good place to start.
P S – If you haven’t read Jen Hatmaker’s book 7: An experimental Mutiny Against Excess, pick up a copy.