By Carol O’Casey
Desperate times call for desperate measures—such as when esteemed evolutionary biologist Edward O. Wilson issued a call to churches to “join forces with science to save the planet.” In his book The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth, Wilson pleads, “Pastor, we need your help. The Creation—living Nature—is in deep trouble.” Will we as a church heed the call to care for creation?
I confess, as a biologist and a pastor’s wife, I’ve stood on the shores of indifference too long, afraid to wade into this hostile territory. But when God challenged me to enter the waters, I could no longer remain silent, so I summoned my strength and began the swim upstream to initiate change in the church.
Why Should We Care?
It’s been said, “We care for only what we love and love only what we know.” True words. If we are to convince people to care about creation, we must first show them why. Let’s start from the top—with God.
Creation—all of it—is near and dear to God’s heart. God is the author of creation; he sustains it and he meets and teaches us through creation.
• God is the author of creation (Genesis 1:31; Psalm 24:1, 2; Psalm 104:24, 25)
My aunt is a docent at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. She conducts tours of priceless artworks. Her students observe the art. They discuss color, style, and impressionism. In addition, they consider the artist. The piece cannot be fully appreciated without “meeting” the one who created it.
In the same way, we should tour God’s artwork in creation—with reverence and awe. When we observe the birds, bees, flowers, and trees, we see the fingerprints of the Master Artist—and gain a deeper appreciation of our ingenious Creator God.
• God sustains creation (Psalm 65:9-13; Psalm 104:10-22; Psalm 147:8, 9)
Each day, I experience God’s provision and care as he watches over me. But God also cares for the sparrows of the sky and the flowers of the field. Even the minute mustard seed is under his care. God cares for his handcrafted works, all of them. And if God cares about and for his creation, shouldn’t we do the same?
• God meets and teaches us in creation (Job 12:7, 8; Job 38, 39; Matthew 6:26-34; Matthew 21:21, 22; Mark 4:30-32)
God taught Job a mighty lesson about life via a whirlwind tour of creation. And Jesus used examples from nature—birds and flowers, trees and seeds, to teach lessons about faith, hope, and trust. Creation has lessons to teach us, if we take the time to look and listen.
Caring about Creation at High Lakes Christian Church
I’m blessed to partner in caring for creation with my husband, Terry O’Casey, pastor of High Lakes Christian Church. Terry is passionate about meeting God as creator.
“It’s imperative that we see God as Savior and redeemer, but we serve up only half a God when we don’t know him as creator,” says Terry. But my husband doesn’t just preach it, he lives it. He walks the walk, literally, as he daily explores outdoors and relishes the wonders of God’s creation.
I knew if we could take our congregation outdoors and let them experience the beauty of God’s creation firsthand, they would catch the wonder, and their concern for creation would grow. So in 2013, I launched Wonder Walks in our church—short day hikes designed to introduce people to the wonders of creation just outside their doors.
• On the banks of the Big Deschutes River, we looked at the beauty of the bog orchid and explored the wonder of its flower to attract pollinators. We craned our necks as we witnessed a pair of bald eagles on a nest. We stopped in silence to watch the river flow and thought of God’s spirit flowing in our own lives. Experiencing God’s creation outdoors enriched our souls.
• In addition, for those unable to hike, I offered Wonder Workshops in a classroom setting, where people could unwrap the wonders of creation—literally. Using hand lenses and microscopes, we explored butterfly wings and bird feathers and were awestruck by the intricate mechanisms of each. From the tiny scales on a butterfly wing that refract light to produce iridescent color to the microscopic hooks and barbs of a feather that give it strength, these “inventions” demonstrate the brilliant genius of our God—and cause us to respond with awe and appreciation.
Here’s what people had to say about their wonder-filled encounters:
“This was an amazing, hands-on, practical experience, allowing me to meet God in nature.”
“I realized that I live in God’s creation yet constantly forget him as creator. This pointed me back to God.”
“This afternoon reminded me to slow down and enjoy his world.”
Experience Creation in Your Own Backyard
You, too, can experience the beauty of God’s creation. Caring for creation is biblical. And it’s restorative—both to a person’s spirit and God’s planet. But you don’t need a class to begin. You can start in your own backyard. Start there. Start now. Here’s how:
• Provide food for wildlife: install a bird feeder or plant flowers for yourself—and wildlife. Visit your local nursery or local extension office to discover plants that will attract hummingbirds, songbirds, and butterflies.
• Offer a water supply: water is essential to wildlife. By adding a birdbath or a pond to your yard, you will provide a source of life-giving water to God’s creations.
• Create habitat for wildlife: by planting vegetation in your yard, whether a wildflower meadow or a sturdy shrub, you are providing a place for animals to find refuge to roost or raise their young.
These simple acts will bring you pleasure—and please God. Oftentimes in our busy lives we become preoccupied with the day’s demands, and forget to notice the wonder and mystery of God’s creation—the birds overhead, trees beside us, or the flowers at our feet. God’s creation surrounds us.
Let’s take the challenge to slow down and pay attention to God’s creation. This simple act of paying attention leads to awe and appreciation for the creator and draws you closer to his side. Nature is a gift. It’s time to open the box. He will be pleased. And you will be blessed.
“Great are the works of the Lord; they are pondered by all who delight in them” (Psalm 111:2).
Carol O’Casey is an author and educator teaching about the wonders of nature in Central Oregon.
For more information on how to experience God’s creation, Carol O’Casey’s book Unwrapping Wonder: Finding Hope in the Gift of Nature contains hands-on “Wondercises” for you to try at home. Find out more at www.thedivinenatureproject.com.