“God is looking for those with whom He can do the impossible. What a pity that we plan only the things that we can do by ourselves.”A.W. Tozer
Do you ever look at the world and feel completely helpless? That change is impossible, and things are just on the trajectory of getting worse? Not the most inspiring questions to ask, but ones I think have relevance to where many of us are at. Not only has the past two years of living in a pandemic highlighted flaws and shortfalls of our governments and leaders, but it has also been a challenging time for many of us personally.
As I’ve reflected, I’ve realised how desperately we all need God’s unrelenting love, generosity, and wisdom.
Biblical Sustainability – Stewardship
As I’ve pondered sustainability and the Bible, I’ve started to think that sustainability and stewardship are intricately linked. Genesis 1:27-28 says: “So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth” (emphasis my own). God gave us the responsibility of looking after His creation and looking after it well. That includes all living things, resources, and the environment (Gen 2:15).
Everything He created, He stated as being good. If God deems something good, just as He deems us as being good, then surely, we are to steward it well? Throughout the Old Testament, God also gives the Israelites instructions and limits to the land they may have, as well as the resources (Numbers 35).
Our World Today
When I think of the world today, negative descriptive words come to mind a lot more easily than positive ones. Of course, I see the beauty. But I also see exploitation, greed and selfishness, the devastating consequences of overconsumption – and all the horrible consequences thereof, often on innocent bystanders.
I’m very sure God knew how technology and industry would evolve, I believe that He gave us the minds and creativity to invent it (you can read a bit more about that here), hence He made the concept of limits clear from the very beginning. Our world is clearly made with limited resources, yet we continually overshoot those limits for our own selfishness.
“If you give a hungry man a fish, you feed him for a day, but if you teach him how to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.”Lao Tsu
Over the last two years, CBN SA has been involved in both disaster/food relief efforts and starting food security projects. As we saw the desperation and devastation around us, we realised in its fullness how in need our region is for lasting impact. Food to feed a hungry stomach for a few days is good and has its place (like during covid or after a disaster), but empowering people to feed themselves long-term is even better. Providing the skills and basic resources needed to start farming provides long-term food relief and potential income. Empowering people through education has long lasting effects. Providing pastoral and psychological support heals trauma more holistically. Too often we put on band aids without treating the festering infection.
Sustained impact, to me, is about treating festering infections so that the problem does not spread, but rather heals and is restored. By pursuing sustainable impact – or stewardship – in all we do, we can help get to the root of problems and aid in bringing about restoration and healing – something the people of our region, including ourselves, so desperately need.
God is going to provide us with what we need. By changing our focus from being inwards, and turning our eyes outward, has incredible power on our own relationship with God as we care for and interact with His creation, and it has the power to bring about long-lasting, meaningful change.
We are all called to steward what we have in our hands to the best of our ability. And what we have in our hands is multifaceted and far-reaching. We can make different areas of our own lives more sustainable with simple changes in routine and habits. And in the areas we can’t change, as Tozer so eloquently pointed out, God is patiently waiting for us to say yes to doing what seems impossible with Him, so that He can make it possible.