This Is The World The Lord Has Made, Rejoice And Be Glad In It

You have probably never heard of the chaparral if you are outside of California. Even if you live in California, you might not have heard of the chaparral. Yet everyone has heard of the redwoods and a whole host of folks know the giant sequoias and ancient bristlecones.

The chaparral is a unique ecosystem that is almost exclusively in California and is as unique as the redwoods, the sequoias and bristlecones. Like those other dramatic plant communities, the chaparral is tightly bound to its environment, an environment that is dry most of the year with a wet winter, an environment that results in a shrub-based ecosystem. With only dense shrubs for its landscape, the chaparral tends to be ignored. It has no dramatic 300-foot tall trees, no trees with bases as large as a small house, no 4,000 year-old trees (though some of the shrubs can be hundreds of years old).

The chaparral shows amazing evidence of God’s always inspired creation and management of His world: the plants are mostly shrubs because it is difficult to send water to the tops of tall trees when there is a shortage of water, leaves are small to minimize water loss during dry conditions, leaves have oils in them to prevent too much evaporation of water, many plants have two root systems — a shallow root system for grabbing water quickly and a deep taproot for going after water that is deep down in the soil, and myriads of plant and animal associations that make this community lively and interesting.

Yet, this ecosystem is rarely appreciated and often badly treated. It is often put down as just “weedy brush” as if only trees were important. I admit that as one who grew up in the East and Midwest with trees, that the chaparral is sometimes uncomfortable, yet when I spend some time there, I gain much from just appreciating what is there.

There is something about us as human beings that always want the spectacular. We want God to appear to us in Yosemite, the redwoods, the Grand Canyon, truly dramatic miracles of our world, places that truly are awe-some and cannot help but make us think of good. Yet, God appeared to Moses as a burning bush, not a forest fire, not a burning mountain, not anything particularly dramatic except that the bush was a vehicle for God (Exodus 3).

And Jesus said in Matthew 25:40, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”  While Jesus was referring to people in this case, he definitely was making the point that it was not just the dramatic, “important”, “beautiful” people that were the only ones that God paid attention to. I think this is definitely true in nature, too. Otherwise, why would places like the chaparral, swamps, marshes, common grasslands be so intricately and marvelously constructed? Obviously God cares about these places and so should we.

Sometimes I think we pay too much attention to the big, dramatic, beautiful parts of nature. There is nothing wrong with those places, but our attention is skewed from the totality of nature and how important all parts of it truly are. In Genesis, you never see this passage: “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, some of it was better than others.” No, in Genesis 1:31, it says, “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.

Sometimes I would like to modify the always familiar Psalm 118:24 passage, “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” to “This is the world the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it, wherever that is.”

– Rob