Apr 15 2012

God’s Special Knack

Every year at Easter the church I am currently serving includes “the flowering of the cross” as part of their morning service.  For those of you who have never seen this done, here’s how it works.  A rough wooden cross covered with chicken wire is brought into the sanctuary.  At a certain point in the service, while our accompanists play, everyone comes forward and places fresh flowers on the cross.  In a short period of time something quite ugly is transformed into an object of great beauty.  This mirrors in a wonderful way what God did with the horrible cross on that first Easter Sunday; he made something beautiful out of it.

This year I used the flowering of the cross to teach the children in the church about God’s amazing ability to take bad situations and turn them around into something good.  I happen to believe that is God’s special knack.  I have seen it happen time and time again in my own life, as well as in the lives of others.  I guess that’s why Romans 8:28 is one of my favorites Bible verses: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  It is God’s knack for bringing good out of bad situations that fills my life with hope and enables me to move forward when things are not going well.

The same transforming power that we see at the empty tomb and in our own lives may also be witnessed in Creation.  It appears obvious to me that even in nature God is at work bringing about good in bad situations.  Sometimes horrible things happen to God’s Creation.  At times nature, not unlike humans, inflicts harm upon itself.  Tornadoes, floods, avalanches, earthquakes, lightning and hurricanes can cause vast damage to the natural world (not to mention the human world).  At other times humans are the ones inflicting the harm.  We have devised all kinds of ways of destroying mountains, forests, rivers and streams, and the air itself.  Still, somehow, someway, the earth has survived and continues to sustain us.

I believe this is true because God, in His role as Creator, continues to bring good out of bad situations.  When it comes to the natural world He has a way of bringing good out of forest fires.  He has a way of bringing good out of floods.  He has a way of bringing good out of everything.   This good may not be obvious to all, nor may it be seen right away, but God’s special knack for bringing about good in bad situations is just as obvious in nature as it is in other parts of our life.

Having said that I hasten to add that God’s ability to do this does not give us a free pass to treat the earth any way we please.  It doesn’t work that way.  One of our primary callings as His children is to be caretakers of the earth.   In fact, we are all called to assist Him in bringing about good from bad situations.  Next Sunday is Earth Day.  Now would be the perfect time to look for opportunities where you can assist God in bringing about good in a bad situation.  There are lots of possibilities; just look around you.   Plan this week to join God in bringing about good in a bad situation.  He’ll be glad you did and so will the rest of us!

–Chuck

(The top two pictures show before and after “the flowering of the cross” last Sunday.  The spring foliage image displays how nature has revived an area in Kentucky once mined.  The bottom image shows how coastal storms have shaped and formed Ruby Beach in Olympic National Park.)

 

 


Apr 22 2011

Earth Day and Good Friday

Today two days that are very important to me happen to fall on the same day—Good Friday and Earth Day.  I’m sure most people will not draw a connection between the two but there most certainly is one.  In fact, for Christians there are many things that connect Good Friday and Earth Day.  For starters, the one whose death on the Cross we remember today is also the one the Bible tells us was responsible for creating the earth.  The apostle Paul referred to Jesus as “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth…” (Colossians 1:15-16)

The Bible also connects Jesus and the earth when we are told “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)  The basis for God’s incredible gift of Jesus was His love for the world.  This includes not just humans but all of His Creation.  It is clear from Jesus’ own teachings that he, too, love this planet we call home.

In our pride we tend to think of the salvation made possible on Good Friday as being intended only for humans.  The Bible says something very different.  What Jesus did on the Cross that first Good Friday affects all of Creation.  Paul says in the Book of Romans that Creation shares our same hope.  He writes: “The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.  For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.” (8:18-21)

People read the Book of Revelation and get all excited about the “streets of gold” in heaven.  They sometimes fail to see that we are promised in these same pages “a new heaven and a new earth.”  (Revelation 21:1)  The earth will also be glorified and renewed.  The One who died on the cross on Good Friday makes “all things new.”

Considering the fact that Jesus’ death on the Cross would benefit all of Creation is it any wonder that on that first Good Friday “darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining?” (Luke 23:44-45)  Even the earth was humbled by what Jesus did for us on the Cross. 

I’m glad that this year Earth Day and Good Friday fall on the same day.  It gives us a chance to pause and remember some very important truths—truths we might not reflect on or connect otherwise.  I give thanks for my wonderful Savior and for the truth that his redemptive act on the Cross was for all the world and that this includes me too.

–Chuck

(I took the top image several years ago at Hensley Settlement in the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park.  The bottom image was taken last week of the Hana Coast from the Hana Highway in Hawaii.)