NATURE MATTERS 7-28-19
July 28, 2019
2 weeks from now, Lord willing, Ed and I will be on vacation, many miles from here. We will be leaving our home, our pets, and those I minister to at both churches, as well as at Evenglow, in the care of others. My son, Tommy, will be taking care of my two cats, as well as our home and yard. Our veterinarian will be taking care of my two dogs. Two wonderful lay servants will be leading Sunday worship at Mazon and Braceville UMC. And I have several people covering for my services at Evenglow, including two pastors that I have the utmost respect for. Obviously, I have faith in these people to look after all I have entrusted to them.
Now, imagine this scenario… Ed and I come home after being gone for 2 weeks. We unlock the front door and enter our home. The first thing we notice is an awful stench. We call for Tommy but he is nowhere to be found. We walk through the house, calling for the cats, who normally would be coming to greet us. We hear nothing. Finally we find the source of the horrible smell. There are two dead cats laying next to empty food and water bowls. Flies are buzzing all around them. Trash is overflowing the garbage can. The houseplants have wilted and turned brown. To make matters worse, it appears someone maliciously cut down all of my rose bushes and flowers, as well as the new tree I planted this Spring. After tearfully burying the cats and cleaning up the garbage, we go to the vet to pick up our dogs, only to find out that whoever was on duty forgot to give my Chihuahua his medication and he passed away while we were gone. And whoever took my Hairless Terrier for a walk let him get loose and he got hit by a car and is also dead. Then I find out that no one led church service while we were gone, and both churches had signs on the door saying “Church is cancelled – Pastor is on vacation”. On top of everything, Evenglow fires me because the people I asked to cover for me, didn’t. How do you think I would feel?
In the beginning God entrusted mankind with care of His creation – not just for two weeks, but for the duration of earth’s existence. In the Garden of Eden, the animals did not fear man. They were our friends and shared in nature’s bounty, that our Lord so lovingly provided. But when sin entered the world, the animals and the plants suffered along with us. It finally got to the point where God decided we needed a fresh start. But God did not abandon the few who still honored him, Noah and his family, nor did he abandon the animals. He instructed Noah to bring two of every species onto the ark, and care for them there, until the flood had cleared away the corruption and they could start over. And Noah did what God asked.
Now, let’s jump to the present. Are we honoring God by attending to the sacred trust He has given us in regards to His creation? Those who know me, know I have made it a habit when I go running in our local state park, to pick up the trash that others have carelessly thrown on the ground and dispose of it properly. They know I love to garden, and I love animals of every kind. It breaks my heart to see nature destroyed, vandalized, and treated shamelessly. I am heartbroken every time I hear of an animal being abused and mistreated. I scarcely can comprehend how people can think nothing of totally ruining this beautiful earth that our Lord has created for us to live on, and only think of their immediate gratification. And I am convinced that if you want to know a person’s true character, watch how they treat a helpless animal. Do those that abuse them think God will not hold them accountable? Jesus said, “Not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it” - “not one of them is forgotten by God”. (Matthew 10:29 and Luke 12:6).
Just think about all our Lord has made, and how awesome it still is, in spite of mankind and our sin. We breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. The trees and plants take in the carbon dioxide and give us back oxygen. And yet more and more we destroy the very things we need to supply the air we breathe. We carelessly upset the ecological balance of nature more and more. Animals species are going into extinction at an alarming rate. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, “Although extinction is a natural phenomenon, it occurs at a natural ‘background’ rate of about one to five species per year. Scientists estimate we're now losing species at up to 1,000 times the background rate, with literally dozens going extinct every day. It could be a scary future indeed, with as many as 30 to 50 percent of all species possibly heading toward extinction by mid-century.” But sadly, most people could care less as long as their immediate needs and wants are being met.
Mankind has followed our Lord’s instructions to procreate, without caring for the earth that provides the means to support our progeny. Not only are animal species dying off for lack of food and the destruction of their natural habitat, but people are also dying from starvation, and living conditions of a large percentage of the population are a far cry from what our loving Lord wants for them. And so, the time is coming when He will once again intervene. For Jesus said, “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.” (Luke 17:26,27) . When Jesus returns as He said He would, will you be among those who are spared, as was Noah and his family? Or will you be among those who face the judgment of God? Will you be among those who will enjoy the new heaven and new earth, where righteousness dwells (2 Peter 3:13)? Or among those who are forever banished? Salvation is only found in Jesus Christ. Only through Him can hearts be changed. If you have never truly put your faith in Him, don’t delay any longer. And for those who do truly love the Lord, and wonder what they can do when they are only one individual among so many that seem opposed to honoring God and His creation – remember that every small act of kindness, every good deed no matter how insignificant it might seem, is noticed by God and will be rewarded by Him. I have given all of you a little packet of wildflower seeds to plant and hopefully inspire you to come up with more ways to thank God for this earth, and give back to the natural world. And I know there are those among us here that do indeed value all living things, and already are doing much to care for them. I thank you, they thank you, and our Lord thanks you. Amen.
"All Creatures of our God and King" (Maranatha! Music) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0d3gO6qDLNA
"A Place in the Choir" (Celtic Thunder) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-iP27eatYxE