Few of us, including me, ever step back and contemplate the wonder of God’s creation as we experience it moment by moment. On rare occasions, I’ve been struck by a particularly spectacular sunset or a glowing rainbow, but I generally don’t think of creation as part of my everyday life. It’s an event that happened millennia ago. In the beginning. What we have today is often referred to as nature.
Creation was perfect. Nature is fallen. Even though there’s beauty all around me, I also see brown leaves, shriveled flowers, or a dead bird. I feel the brokenness of my world. No sense of wonder, no connection to God.
I’ve been reading a little book lately: Creation Matters, by Dale Kiefer. Prior to writing it, the author had conducted an informal poll, asking Christians how often they thought about creation. The most common answer he got was “not at all.” Of those who did think about it, they were usually only considering the debate over creation vs. evolution. The past—not the present.
Maybe reading Creation Matters is what triggered this moment in my life:
I’m strolling across my lawn to put away the clippers and gloves that I’ve been using to trim some bushes. I stop, hit with an unexpected sense of awe as I realize that this tree right in front of me is a link to Eden, to God’s initial perfect creation. I get a brief imaginary glimpse of this very tree, flawless, green and beautiful, standing in that garden.
I slowly turn around and really look at my entire yard, and realize for the first time that everything I see here is a direct descendant of the plants that God imagined, designed, and created by his Word on that third day. I’m seeing, touching, and smelling that which exists by his wisdom and in response to his voice.
Yes, they’re now damaged. Every blade of grass will die, every tree will fall. But the good and the beautiful that remains in them is a revelation of the character of the God of the universe, the One who lovingly sees all and rules all. This is his precious artwork. Right here in my yard.
C. S. Lewis wrote in The Weight of Glory, “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. . . It is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit.” With these words, he captured the wonder of dwelling among God’s highest creation—immortal human beings. It hadn’t occurred to me that I could experience a similar feeling as I walk among the everyday living things that he’s created.
This sense of awe reminds me of the time when I first met Peggy. Peggy is a Jewish woman who became a Christian about twenty-five years ago. A mutual friend knew that we had some common interests, so she offered to introduce us to each other. But it wasn’t until I saw Peggy face-to-face that the wonder-struck me—this woman knows that she is a direct descendant of Abraham.
I can trace my ancestry back a few hundred years to some average, ordinary people. If I went back far enough (and if I really trusted my sources), I might be able to boast of someone famous in my direct lineage. But Peggy can say with certainty that her many, many, many times great grandparents are Abraham and Sarah. The Abraham and Sarah of the Bible. None of my western European ancestors could come anywhere close to having impacted this world the way Abraham has. And I had the privilege of standing there saying hello to one of his descendants. Wow.
And yes, wow, here I am now, standing in my yard surrounded by trees and bushes and flowers whose ancestors God spoke into existence many millennia ago. Maybe this is the reason why I actually enjoy doing yard work. Maybe this is why we as human beings feel relaxed and comforted as we pet a dog or stroke a cat. Maybe this is why the potted plants inside our homes bring us pleasure, despite the work it takes to maintain them. Maybe this is why being out in “nature,” hiking, fishing, or bird-watching, reduces our stress levels. It’s not just nature—it’s God’s creation.
Ann O’Malley is the pseudonym of a new author seeking a publisher for her memoir of suicidal depression. Her pen name comes from “anomaly,” that feeling of being different, of not really belonging, which plagues so many of those who suffer from depression. For more of her writing, check out her blog, “Those Who Weep: Not-Quite-Evangelically-Correct Thoughts on Suffering,” at https://thosewhoweep.blogspot.com.