Nature

What a wonderful world in which we live! There is so much amazing beauty that we should see around us, but often we can be blinded to it by the headlong rush of modern living. If we can just step to one side and quietly look, we will see things that make us marvel at our God’s skill and power.

What about the spring flowers – all of that beauty and complex biological structure emerging from a tiny seed or a bulb! REF What about the Swallows and House Martins that leave the chilly UK behind each winter and fly to Africa? How do they go all that way and then fly back in the Spring to their old nest in my house roof? They don’t have Satellite Navigation!

I have two families of Sparrows nesting in my garden and the parents are wonderfully attentive to their young – it’s a never-ending cycle of finding food and bringing it to the chicks. This is repeated millions of times across the world by birds that, to many, are worthless. In First Century Israel there was a trade in small birds and if you bought in bulk it seems that you got an extra one thrown in free. “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?” (Matt 10:29) and “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies?” (Luke 12:6). That fifth little bird literally had no value, yet it came into being by God’s knowledge and was in His care “not one of them is forgotten by God” (Luke 12:6). How encouraging for us! If God cares about that one sparrow, we can be assured that He cares even more for each one of us, “Don’t be afraid, you are worth more than many sparrows” (Luke 12:7).

So the birds around us are just one tiny reminder that God’s original purpose in creating the world still holds true. God created the earth with all its plant life and animal life and put mankind on the earth to tend the Garden of Eden - to govern the earth responsibly. Everything was perfect throughout all creation - there was balance and perfect beauty and that was God’s purpose. After the sixth day of creation, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning - the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.” (Genesis 1:31 – 2:1)

We are told that man was made in God’s image, and sometimes we can feel a little of that perfection in us still. Go to a quiet beautiful lake in an unspoilt valley and sense the pleasure at enjoying a landscape that is “very good”. That inner feeling is just a flavour of God’s pleasure in His creation. Of course, the oneness with creation was much stronger before Adam and Eve sinned - there was no discord in the animal world - there was total ecological balance. It’s strange to relate that many of our fellow human beings want the same as God wants, but without realising it! God wants the earth to return to this state of perfection again. The original perfection was spoilt by Adam and Eve and this has since affected ALL mankind, because we all sin and we all fail to live to the standards God would have us live to.

If we can get in the habit of looking at the natural world around us, we will see so many things that are all miracles in themselves. These things could not all have happened by accident. Nor could the accident then have been repeated over and over again. These are things that speak of design; perfectly fitted for a particular purpose. As we see such things we should question further. The planner and designer, the builder of such marvels ought to arouse our interest. Just as the antique experts can see the ‘signature’ of the maker in the craftsmanship of a piece of furniture, so God’s ‘signature’ is all around us. “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20). Through the things that we see about us, the invisible aspects of God can be ‘seen’ and understood.

So nature can teach us that there is a God. It shows us a powerful force that has created: not only as a one-off event but sustaining it - keeping things going. The evidence is all around us: in the ever changing seasons; in the flowers in our gardens; in the wider landscape; in the birdsong that we hear - the evidence is not of chance, of gradual random change but of design, order and beauty. This evidence for God leaves us with no excuse - we ought to be finding out about Him. Nature helps us so far along that road, but it cannot tell us what God wants from us. That’s the job of the Bible: the Bible tells us why God made the earth and why He wants us to share it with Him in the kingdom. Let’s make sure we listen and respond to His call.

(Quotations from the New International Version of the Bible)

John Bennett