Nature Finds a Way, but God is Still in Charge
A devotional by Jessica Brodie
The forgotten house stood there in the field, its clapboard siding missing in some places, and in others barely hanging on. Vines and small trees grew up, over, and within it, to the point that the house looked like it had almost been swallowed by Mother Nature. It was beautiful, and with the right lighting I would’ve taken a picture, maybe tried to paint it. We passed it on our drive back from camping last weekend, and there are many houses just like it. We often see them dotting the countryside, often on rural back roads, someone’s forgotten home overtaken by time.
It’s almost sad even in its beauty. To think—someone once lived there, laughed there, perhaps birthed children or even died there.
Sometimes I imagine walking into a house like this, trimming back the leaves and clearing out the clutter, sweeping the dirt from the floors and patching it up. There I’d live in my tidy little nature-home, secluded in the South Carolina forest. Of course it probably doesn’t have running water or electricity, way too rustic for my modern tastes, but in my fantasy that never matters. I live at one with nature, tending a garden and digging a well as people did for century upon century.
It’s funny how we humans feel like we have so much control over everything. We are intelligent, God-created beings, and when we cooperate, powerful things can happen. We build roads, install water systems, invent medicine, and educate the masses. We spread the gospel from one corner of the earth to another … even as we create complex political systems or go to war with the neighboring countries. We do so much good in the name of the Lord, yet we also do evil that is rooted in our own selfish drives and motivations. We mow our lawns and trim back trees and clear roads and build skyscrapers or condos in marshlands and forests. We live there, among the trees or near the water, an interesting symbiotic relationship.
And yet no matter what we do, if we stop our efforts for just a couple of days, look what happens. Lawns quickly become straggly and unkempt, and eventually overgrown. Trees creep in and block pathways. Erosion and storms dismantle roads and other human-made systems
Nature reclaims itself. It’s silent and patient but so persistent, working always in the background, striving to live and grow once more.
I bought a T-shirt this weekend, mostly for my husband, because he loves the Jurassic Park movie series. It says “Nature always finds a way” and has a Tyrannosaurus Rex dinosaur skeleton on the front. It’s a reference to the movies, which if you have not seen them are basically about how scientists have figured out a way to bring dinosaurs back to life, which (as you can imagine) causes lots of death and destruction.
But the saying doesn’t apply just to dinosaur movies. Nature usually does find a way. Things shift into sudden motion sometimes, much like a marble we’ve dropped at the top of the hill. It’s almost impossible to stop. It will roll and roll, gaining momentum. What happens is beyond our control.
Sometimes we find ourselves in catastrophic life situations. Maybe it’s generational poverty and believing society’s lies about how credit cards will solve all our problems, and we wind up in massive debt. Maybe it is major depressive disorder or some other mental illness that has grown so big you cannot see your way out.
That’s where my daughter is right now. While she’s just trusting God will make a way, she herself cannot see an end to this. It’s hard not to feel hopeless in situations like this, isn’t it?
Sometimes situations do spiral out of control, or at least far beyond our control. And sometimes, left unattended, these problems grow so quickly, like trees and vines and leaves and grass overtaking an abandoned house somewhere in the South Carolina forest.
Yet God is the ultimate author of redemption.
I love the scripture in the Bible where the prophet Ezekiel is talking to God about dry bones coming to life. Can you imagine? Read Ezekiel 37:1-14 for the full power of the verse, as God shows Ezekiel a valley filled with dry bones and urges Ezekiel to prophesy to the bones: “Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord” (Ezekiel 37:4-6 NIV).
God does indeed do just this, and the bones come to life before the prophet as God promises He will do the same for His people Israel.
What is hopeless to you is not hopeless to God. Life happens. Nature happens. Sickness happens. Our own actions cause consequences, and others people’s actions do as well.
But our God is the God of Noah and Esther and Ezekiel and Saul-turned-Paul. He is the God of redemption, breathing life where life was once gone. God raised Lazarus from the tomb, and Jesus, raised Adam from the dust, and God can raise us, too. He can make miracles happen at any moment.
So today I invite you to keep your eyes on El Shaddai, the Lord God Almighty. Know that you belong to Him and you are safe in Him, for He loves you now and always.
Let’s Pray: Lord, as even dry bones can come to life in You, help me remember You can salvage even a sinner like me. Thank You for Your compassion, mercy, and great love. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.
Song of Reflection: “In Your Arms” (song) by Meredith Andrews. Listen to it here.
Jessica Brodie is an award-winning Christian novelist, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach and the recipient of the 2018 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for her novel, The Memory Garden.
She is also the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest newspaper in Methodism. Learn more about her fiction and read her faith blog at http://jessicabrodie.com.
Jessica has a weekly YouTube devotional and podcast. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and more. She’s also produced a free eBook, A God-Centered Life: 10 Faith-Based Practices When You’re Feeling Anxious, Grumpy, or Stressed.