by Kevin Pauley
It is better to be patient than powerful; it is better to have self-control than to conquer a city. – Proverbs 16:32
Many years ago, a French company decided it was going to mine the desert. It brought in its machines, pushed aside the huge dunes building in their place an airstrip and a building complex. They hooked up huge diesel-powered generators and began digging.
But the Sahara has been around a while and is unimpressed by our civilization. After all, it has seen many human empires come and go. Like a dragon sleeping on its hoard, it jealously guards millions of human bones deep within its bowels.
Dust wore out the monster machines repeatedly and the heat killed off many more. The sand dunes kept shifting and burying the airstrip and the highway they had built. It began costing more and more until the company finally realized they were paying a huge price for their mineral harvest. Grain by grain, dust mote by dust mote the desert started to smother the Frenchmen.
After the French finally cut their losses and went home, the desert patiently began stripping the buildings of their paint. It rusted all the metal till everything collapsed. Then it buried the whole sad affair under one huge dune. Five years after the human invaders gave up, there was no evidence they had ever even been there.
There are lessons to be learned from this debacle. First, we must not be so arrogant in our estimation of technology. Sometimes, we feel that our machines can conquer anything. But we must recognize in our efforts to fill the earth, and subdue it (Genesis 1:28) that we are stewards – not conquerors.
Second, we should understand the concept of “die back.” Nature has a way of finding equilibrium. If, like a virus, we endlessly replicate and spew our excretions all over creation, like any living system invaded by another, creation will fight back. It will overheat until our polar ice caps start melting and the glaciers begin retreating, throwing our weather into a hurricane creating frenzy. The coral reefs will die, red tide will flourish and the large fish will be reduced to less than ten percent of their previous population. Viruses will rise (Ebola, Aids, Sars, Mad Cow, West Nile) that are resistant to our best drugs. Does any of this sound familiar? If we push nature, nature will push back – and we may lose.
Third, on a more personal level, nature’s patience should be imitated. We usually want our solutions immediately. Someone can’t get along and play nice so we just quit! But nature fights back a grain of sand or one virus at a time. Take your time. Fight like the jungle does. Send out creepers that wear down walls, slowly form cracks in concrete and cover up all their works. Wear them down, be slow, be patient, be in it for the long haul. Be as patient as the desert.
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Kevin Pauley is a pastor and writer. He lives in Illinois with his wife, Lynn, their five children and two dogs. His internet address is Berea.
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