Friday, August 5, 2016
When Nature Isn't Beautiful
"Isn't nature always beautiful, Mom?"..."Then why did the eggs get killed?" I realized then and there, that I've spent much of our nature studies over the years on the beauty of creation. Always referring to how beautiful nature was, as if it was whole. Enough. The fact that the flowers are brilliant in color, complex in design, filled with wonderful variety and math abounding. Discussing the perfect balances of water cycles, life cycles, contemplating in wonder and awe, the number of creatures created, and their intricate designs -perfectly suited for the job God had created them to fulfill. We have talked about the lessons of weeds in a garden and how they relate to the sin of man and we've discussed why Jesus used so many analogies to nature and natural processes. However, we never discussed the cruel side of nature. That side of nature that makes you cringe as a beautiful zebra is taken down by a lion or a bird's eggs are abandoned in a nest, never to see the first sunrise or set. How do we approach the parts of nature that aren't beautiful and why are they so? Let's explore...
THE PROBLEM OF OUR EGGS
One spring we were excited to see a mother blue bird make her nest in our door's wreath. Sarah was delighted that we would get an up front view of baby birds being born and raised. We looked inside and discovered she had 5 eggs. We watched over several days as Momma bird sat on her nest and sang out loudly every morning. Then one day we didn't hear the singing. We looked outside to see two eggs sitting precariously on the edge of the nest, about to fall out. We got a spoon and climbed up to place the eggs back in the nest, figuring that someone must have shut the front door too hard and caused them to almost fall out of the nest. A few days later we found an egg on the threshold smashed. We again, assumed they fell out of the nest from a door being shut too hard. However, the next day we found an egg down the front porch and a small hole out of it. There was one egg left, but Momma bird never showed up again. Sarah asked me if we could keep the egg warm and have it hatch. I then asked her how she would feed the hatched bird. She had some interesting ideas and we explored where those would take the bird and in the end, she concluded that it would be better to not be born, then to be born and suffer because the bird couldn't eat or wouldn't learn how to fly or might be eaten by a predator. That was the moment she saw something different than she had seen before in nature. She saw that it wasn't beautiful, it wasn't whole. It wasn't enough. The idea that there was more somewhere, someday; a longing for the whole, was ignited.
VASELINE COVERED GLASSES
Searching for a kid friendly analogy to help explain creation in context to the fall and the coming new heaven and earth, I told my daughter she has vaseline covered glass - we all do. We look at the most beautiful thing we can think of in creation and even that is just looking through vaseline covered glasses. It's marred, blurry, not really the true image before us that God intended. It lets us see just enough to know God's power, majesty and beauty, in part. However, creation is fallen, along with us, it's sin cursed and incomplete. We see beauty but we also see thorn and thistle, predator and prey, sunshine and storm - it's vaseline covered glasses. We can't see clearly and we won't be able to, until God removes those glasses and we see the true beauty He intended creation to be. So that nest, those eggs, that sadness, it's all part of the longing. The reminder that this isn't our home and we long for Him and His renewed creation. So those vaseline covered glasses are meant to draw you near to Him in the beauty and long for Him in the ugly.
Romans 8:18-22 "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subject to futility, not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now."
That day began a change in our conversations. We no longer dwelt only on the beauty that surrounded us, letting that satisfy our soul in the moment. We began to dwell on the beauty that awaits us, which renews our soul. God doesn't want it perfect right now. He wants us to long for Him. The ugly makes us do that. It makes us long for His restoration - when all things will be made new.