Mar 4 2012

Nature and a Tender, Caring Heart

Today our pastor preached about Love as part of his series on the fruits of the Spirit (Holy Spirit). Pastor Charlie did a wonderful job, as usual. As an application of all of the things he talked about and Bible references he gave, from the classic I Corinthians 13:4-7 to I John 3:16-19, he offered the following idea, that we might work to be able to say, “I maintain an unselfish, tender, caring heart towards people that is free from a critical spirit.”

That got me thinking about nature. In Psalm 77:12 it says, “I will meditate on all your work and muse on your mighty deeds.” We are God’s part of that reference to “your work … and mighty deeds”, and so is all of the rest of nature, so why not make the connection? Pastor Charlie’s idea about a caring heart free from a critical spirit could definitely apply to God’s creation, too.

For me, nature photography is part of how I try to connect with nature and show my care. I don’t want to simply take pictures of pretty things. For me, that is not enough, and does not give me much of a tender, caring heart towards nature. Even looking at nature photography, I want more than just another pretty scene. There are tons of pretty photos of nature that do not go any deeper than a superficial beauty that doesn’t connect with people.

I have nothing against pretty nature pictures. They have their place. But Pastor Charlie’s admonition made me realize that I need something deeper, truly a tender, caring heart toward nature in the way I see it. And I want to connect with others in that way as well.

I also like the section, “free from a critical spirit.” It is sometimes a bit odd to me that people want to judge nature, God’s creation, as being good and bad. Wolves are bad, deer are good. Spiders are bad, butterflies are good. That goes totally against how God saw creation: “And God saw it was good.” (That comes up many times in Genesis 1.) Nature is only “bad” if we look at it from human-centric critical eyes, not from God’s perspective.

In Psalm 96:11-12 it says,

“Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;

let the sea roar and all that fills it;

let the field exult and everything in it.

Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy.”

That really expresses a joy about God from nature that is not man-centric. If nature rejoices and sings for joy about its Creator, how can we see it in any way as bad? That does not mean that the natural world won’t cause problems for us at times. That can be bad for us, but it does not mean that God’s creation is bad.

I am going to work to remember Pastor Charlie’s advice for seeing people: “I maintain an unselfish, tender, caring heart towards people that is free from a critical spirit.”

And I am going to translate it also for me to make it reflect an attitude toward God’s creation: “I maintain an unselfish, tender, caring heart towards God’s creation that is free from a critical spirit.”

The photos seen here are of a beautiful pygmy rattlesnake in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Florida — perfectly adapted to the location and a wonderful part of this ecosystem.

— Rob

Nov 17 2010

Death and Life

sweetgum leaf 399While reading the book of First Peter yesterday I came across the passage where the biblical author says “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.  For, ‘All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.’”  (1:23-25a)  This time of the year seems appropriate for reading these words.  Now that we’ve had some hard frosts the grass in my yard has withered and the flowers fallen back to the earth.  Every time this happens we are reminded that our lives, like the grasses and flowers, are only here for a certain length of time. 

Death is not a subject most people like to talk about.  It is, however, something that comes to each of us eventually.  The mortality rate for humans remains 100%.  In nature we have all kinds of reminders that we’re not meant to live here on earth forever.  These reminders also serve the useful purpose of pointing us to our kinship with all living things.  Like them, we too will one day die.

I know that there are many people who believe that this life here on earth is all that we have but the Bible tells us that this is not so.  The eternal God offers to us the gift of eternal life.  That life is found in Jesus Christ.  The apostle Paul was so convinced that there was life beyond death that he said, “If only for this life we have hope in Christ we are to be pitied more than all men.” (1 Cor. 15:19)  And just as Peter pointed to the natural world for reminders of our mortality, Paul did the same to talk about what kind of bodies we’ll have in eternity.  He writes, “What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.  When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or something else.  But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.  All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals another and fish another.”  (1 Corinthians 15:36-39)   Paul goes on to say, “So it will be with the resurrection of the dead.  The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable…it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” (1 Cor. 15:42, 44)

I certainly don’t claim to understand what all this means but I do know that in the verses by both Peter and Paul there is to be found good news.  Death may be inevitable on this earth but the life God gives to us through Jesus Christ is everlasting.  For that I am extremely grateful!


(I took the image of the fallen leaves and pine cone in my back yard earlier today.)