Nature is a Formidable Foe
I love nature. Truly I do. But nature is not my friend. There is little about it that one could call friendly. Permit me to explain.
As soon as spring has sprung, nature comes alive with marvels. The songbirds return. The bees hum in the flowering trees. Flowers pop out of the ground and bloom The energy is palpable. I want to be out in it, feeling myself a part of the new life sprouting from the earth. So I go for a walk, and I take the dogs.
Soon I notice that my legs itch. The tall grass has scratched them. I feel something crawling on my neck. I reach to feel what it is and come away with a pinhead sized tick. I walk past the beehives and forget that I put a red t-shirt on that morning. The bees seem to be maddened by the color and give chase. The dog tries to catch one in her mouth and gets a sting on her nose. Further on as the poor mutt sniffs in a pile of brush, she flushes out a skunk who turns and sprays her in the face. Off she runs for the pond, yelping as it burns her eyes. To say nothing of chiggers, flies, spiders, wasps, or snakes.
Marvelous things, these. Awesome creations. But they are not tame. They hold both a beauty and a danger. In reality, they are protecting themselves. They engender my respect.
Four years ago I began a new hobby, beekeeping. I may not have known what I was getting into, but after the initial start-up expenses, I enjoyed that first year of learning about the habits and lifestyles of the sweet and industrious. Bees are indispensable for their pollination role as well as the tasty golden product of their busyness. Most people have heard of the decline of honeybees. I felt I might contribute in a small way to their continued existence, but when two of my three hives died out or disappeared that first winter, and for the last two years as well, I knew I was up against a formidable foe. To this day I struggle to understand what happens to them. My best guess so far-random acts of nature. The fight for survival against weather, pests and disease.
The other hobby I began some time ago is keeping chickens. i love their silly antics, the way they walk, scratch and chase each other for a worm. The first years were no sweat, but for the last four, coinciding with my beekeeping, I can’t seem to keep them safe. The first two flocks were casualties of a mid-day play date with my very own pet dog. Horrified that she had gone on such a wanton killing spree, I resolved to protect my birds. The second time I was furious, trapping her in and making her find a way out. She did. The third time, in spite of our vigilance, something was after them at night. A critter was digging under the heavy cover and squeezing through a small hole and dragging the half-grown young hens out. Just a few every night, and we did not miss them until we counted one day and had only four left. The nerve of those predators! Raccoon, fox or skunk, we never found out. The next year, a different strategy by the hungry and wild. We fixed the fence and tried again, sure it was the skunk we’d seen skulking around just after dark. This year as I went out at dusk to close up the chickens, I discovered the previous night’s violent storm had flung the chain off the eye hook and blown the gate open, leaving a clear invitation to the coyotes that circle our homestead every night. All but one sole survivor were gone. Sally is traumatized and won’t lay any eggs. Not to be outfoxed again, I brought home twelve new baby chicks tonight.
As biological creatures we not only fight to survive against nature, but sadly, sometimes against our own fellowman. Forces of evil which are present in humankind and often within ourselves cause us no end of grief and suffering. We do the things we do not want to do, and see others doing the same.
I believe in hope. And I believe there is a way to prevail against the forces arrayed against us. That hope is in the redeeming work of a God who wants us to choose him and let him change us by his powerful spirit of goodness and love. I believe he desires us to forsake our own way, fraught with mistakes and failures, and allow him to change us into his image. The long journey which is our lives, striving against ourselves and outside forces, has a purpose. There is a victory over sin and death. Praise God that he has not left us as helpless prey in a formidable world. He has left us his Spirit, and He has left us each other.
Not only is nature a well-armed adversary, it is beautiful beyond belief.
What ways do you find yourself up against nature? Does it make you want to give up or stand and fight?