When I was a boy growing up near Charlotte, North Carolina, I remember the creek that ran through the middle of my father’s farm. It was a fairly big creek – Sugar Creek – and I loved it. But what should have been a thing of beauty, a swimming hole for hot summer afternoons, a source of nourishment and growth for my father’s cattle, a deliverer of nutrients to the land, was, instead, a cause for grief, even death. One morning we found a Holstein cow lying dead and swollen on Sugar Creek’s polluted bank. A mill upstream somewhere was dumping poison into the stream. Sugar Creek died and carried death wherever it went.
We couldn’t do anything then. There were no laws to which my father could appeal to have Sugar Creek cleaned and restored. People were not restricted to the extent they are today in their dumping of anything they wanted to dispose of in the flowing water. All we could do was build a fence around the stream to protect the cattle.
The growing possibility of our destroying ourselves and the world with our own neglect and excess is tragic and very real.
We cannot simply mourn the fate of the earth. We cannot go on pretending that someone else is guilty for its current disastrous state. We must do what we can, even though we know that God’s ultimate plan is the making of a new earth and a new heaven.
For more than 25 years ecologists have been warning us about the depletion of the earth’s limited resources. They talk about reckless waste, about nuclear and chemical pollutions, about indiscriminate killing of wildlife, about cementing over the forests with freeways and slicing through neighborhoods with on-and-off ramps that feed those ribbons of concrete crisscrossing our country. They warn us about acid rain belching from industrial smokestacks to descend on nature and defoliate God’s beautiful creation. They raise warnings when unique living spaces are being damaged and destroyed. They have been the watchmen and watchwomen on the gates warning of the enemy within. They’ve been ridiculed and threatened, tolerated and lauded. And now, it is time we took their warnings more seriously.
I find myself becoming more and more an advocate of the true ecologist – many who have done us an essential service in helping preserve and protect our green zones and our cities, our water and our air. In this way God’s commission in Genesis to “rule . . . over all the earth” (Genesis 1:26) has been obeyed.
(adapted from Approaching Hoofbeats: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse by Billy Graham, 1983, Word Books)