Enjoying the View
Please welcome Brenda Madore, who has published with us as a guest in the past and will be joining us as a regular writer.
As a bit of a space junky, I eagerly awaited the near-earth passing of asteroid 2012 DA14 on Friday, February 15th. The knowledge that a rock NASA labeled the size of a “small office building” was going pass a mere 17,000 miles from earth was really exciting because it is the closest encounter of that size of object in known history. We knew it would pass that day in part because of information gathered by a network of satellites orbiting the planet.
Mankind has launched these satellites to peer out into space looking for everything from information about the beginning of time to searching for asteroids that could impact earth. There are also satellites that are looking down at our blue and green marble of a planet and they are seeing incredible things.
Through this relatively new perspective we are gaining awareness of the intricate interconnectedness of the systems of nature on our planet. Satellites that orbit the earth anywhere from 40 to 40,000 miles above our heads are allowing scientist to map ocean currents, to witness the earth’s crust rising and falling as magma boils beneath it, are revealing that the world breathes in and out each day as plant life cycles through photosynthesis, and demonstrating how all of these things cannot work without one other. It is a delicate and dynamic balance allowing life to flourish.
Within this structure of nature are the lush Amazon Rain Forrest and the Sahara Desert. The Amazon holds half of the world’s known species and is filled with beauty and growth. The Sahara, on the other hand is one of the most inhospitable places on the planet. The two have little in common but detailed satellite photos are revealing something incredible.
Every day at noon a dust storm picks up over a colossal ancient lakebed that is located in the central Sahara. As the wind blows, the fossilized remains of plankton that lived in the lake are chipped off as the abrasive sand moves across it. This is then lifted high into the sky. Amazingly, tens of millions of tons of this stuff are transported into the atmosphere each year which is then carried west to the Amazon where rainfall drops it on the forest below.
So, who cares if a bunch of dust makes its way thousands of miles to be deposited somewhere else? The miracle of it turns out to be that the pulverized plankton are rich in phosphorus, and phosphorus is almost completely absent in the soil of the Amazon. Without the infusion of that exact fertilizer the Amazon would wither and die.
Truth has a way of working on large scales as well as small. The Gospel can be applied to an individual, a family, a city, a nation, and the entire world. The more I learn, the more I see how it works in creation as well. The processes God uses to create and sustain life here on earth are the same processes he uses in me personally as I make my way down the path of salvation. There are correlations between everything.
I have areas of my personality and existence that I consider Amazon Forests, areas that are teeming with life and where resources are abundant. Things are going well; I’m growing and thriving.
Then there are the Sahara zones which seem to be nothing but dead expanses of wasteland. No matter what I try to do to improve the desert, it is to no avail. Constant irritation occurs as the winds of life blow across these seemingly arid and useless parts of my character. No matter how I pray and work and plead, nothing of value seems to be produced. In the end all I get for my effort is sand in my eyes.
What the facts about the Sahara and the Amazon helped me to understand was that my personal Sahara is a production plant for fertilizer. The struggle against my defects, the imperfectness that resides in my relationships, the trials, all are producing the nourishment I need. That nourishment is raining down on other areas of my life and causing things to grow. The spiritual muscle gained in persevering, endurance that increases through struggle, and even the seemingly needless suffering I go through are desperately needed in the parts of myself that are going well. Without it, the growth I so enjoy would die.
The realization of all this comes back to perspective. While on the ground it is impossible to see the blessing and where it came from, but pull back a few miles and reality comes stunningly into view.
To gain this perspective a couple of things need to happen. First, I have to learn about God’s plan for His children. This creates an eternal framework in which to understand the truth. Second, I must ask Him to help me see things as they truly are. It is a simple idea but difficult to sincerely invite. I can testify that when asked, God answers that prayer.
Faith and trust are required when I am permitted to see my strengths and abundant flaws through God’s eyes. Like Moses, who fell to the earth when he found that “man is nothing,” I am similarly humbled but also gain a new awareness of the wholeness of God’s love for me. I begin to comprehend my identity as a cherished daughter. That understanding gives me the strength to open my eyes and move forward.
This is a paradox of man: compared to God, man is nothing; yet we are everything to God. While against the backdrop of infinite creation we may appear to be nothing, we have a spark of eternal fire burning within our breast. We have the incomprehensible promise of exaltation—worlds without end—within our grasp. And it is God’s great desire to help us reach it.
Seeing my life from such a viewpoint allows me to observe the glory and interdependence of my own God-given system. It is intricate and perfectly interconnected. Piece-by-piece the plan God has for me rolls into view and I find that my stubborn Sahara is really vital after all.
- How has asking to see things through God’s eyes helped you accept the value of trials in your life?