27 Nov 2013 by Jason Law CM –
There is this poetic aphorism that ‘Nature calls out God’ and that creation bears witness to His laws and nature. Unless we learn to truly see nature through new eyes though, we will not gain full understanding of this adage. Too often we get carried with the stresses and burdens of life that we forget to relax and take in with deep appreciation the love and care God has placed in His wondrous creation.
Ever imagine what would happen if the Sun and Earth was set closer or further apart from where it is now, or what would happen if we have more than one or no moons? Everything that God created was set in a design that was just right for the possibility of our survival. That many scientists can actually compute consistent mathematical formulas out of so many scientific phenomena only scream God’s Design all the louder rather than mute them.
Many efforts have been made to reclaim the true authorship of nature as God’s work, such as Answers In Genesis (www.answersingenesis.com), but Ken Yeong, and Foo Seng, the guys behind the Good Stewards programme at Forest Research Institue Malaysia (FRIM) Kepong, has made it possible for both Christians and non-Christians to experience and learn about God’s communication and design in nature in a more hands-on manner. In the short time during our trial trip with the brothers behind Good Stewards, we managed to learn so many things. Among some of these were:
1. The roots of trees say something about our rootedness in the Word of God
In the first example, known as the buttress root, the tree from which this root grew grew big and strong. The reason for this was that the roots searched hard and deep for the rich nutrients that are found not near the surface but deep underground. The formation of the buttress root also says something; it forms a huge prong so that when the strong wind blows, the formation of the roots will help it to withstand the pressure of the wind.
In contrast to this, was another tree we found. This one was a fallen trunk. It was evident that this tree fell because its roots wasn’t growing deep enough to withstand the wind or soil erosion, either due to the lack of nutrients in the soil where it was growing or because it wasn't searching enough.
In the same way, in order to withstand the pressures and temptations of the world, we must not just take the pleasant and surface things of God, but also learn to dig deep in the Word of God, including the difficult and abstruse parts. When the wind comes, we’ll be deeply rooted in the Word of God, not just knowing about the pleasant promises of God but also have God’s guidance during the difficult moments in our lives.
2. The Crown of Shyness Formation in the Pokok Kapur canopy passes across the Biblical message about making space for one another.
In the picture, the lines of boundaries for the canopies of each tree are clearly delineated. Many theories have been given for why this happen, among which are that the leaves of each Pokok Kapur tree, releases chemicals to deter the leaves of the other Pokok Kapur trees from encroaching into their area. From this, we could see that even apparently insentient creations like trees have an in-built instinct placed in them by God to make space for each other instead of competing outright. In our Christian life, there are many areas where we may need to do this.
3. The Water Channels Speaks Volumes About God’s Role In Our Lives
We were also taken to a creek where we learned lessons about the pristine natural waters and the way channels of waters are created. One of the significant things we learned is that something as fluid and pliable as water has the power to carve something as hard and unyielding as hard rock. We also often find channels that are directed by strong and mighty cliffs.
Transposing this to a Christian symbolism, the pristine quality of water symbolizes God's original plan for the Earth, free from the physical as well as moral pollution caused by humans. And in our Christian walk, sometimes what seems meek and humble is actually strength, often enough to change lives and environments. If we take the mighty cliffs as God’s directions upon our lives, they also symbolize that every step of our Christian journey are often guided in the steadfast and unwavering good will of God.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
4. The Diversity in Nature Speaks about God’s Design For Our Roles In Life
The biodiversity in nature not only speaks about God’s love for diversity and abundance. They also speak of God’s design towards our role in life. Each of us is made differently, with different characters, strengths, and weaknesses. We all play our role like pieces of jigsaw; we’re all incomplete without each other, but together in God’s plan, we build something complete and robust.
In Ken Yeong’s words, diversity teaches us:
The nature expression of unity can be seen in how animals group and work together as a unit. There are many examples, but let's look at a natural phenomenon called the "bird wave". A bird wave is when different species of insectivorous birds flock together to hunt as a unit. When a flock of birds move through the forest, their large presence helps to disturb insects in larger numbers than would be possible if each bird were to hunt singly or in its specific group. Thus, by working together in a bird wave, more insects are caught and eaten and less effort is needed. Another benefit is there are more eyes and therefore vigilance in a large flock of different birds to avoid predation by eagles, cats, etc.
So Christians and churches can obviously learn much from the bird wave to inspire joint efforts to work together. As a larger group, a united church consisting of different denominations, backgrounds, areas of specialization, calling, etc, can reap benefits that a single church may not be able to tap into. Niches or special roles can be assigned to the most effective church in that particular role, but within the larger purpose and goal of the united church. We can see this also in how individual members contribute their talents to different ministries within the same church, and if they submit to the larger purpose and calling of the united church, they can then reach further and possibly take on projects that individuals or ministries find too daunting.
Being united doesn't mean that individualism and special giftings are to be ignored. Rather, it is usually the balance of the individual and the smaller group, and also the larger group. When the right balance is found, everyone should be effective. And fruitful!
Besides hands-on practical lessons, ganed through the Forest Walk programme, we were also given the opportunity to reflect on the lessons we’ve learned, directed towards developing a life mission. Each participant of the programme will also be given a journal to record their reflections in.
Besides their usual Forest Walk programme, Ken and Foo Seng also has developed some customized programmes, including for schools, corporate, and churches. A huge part of the programmes is to bless the underprivileged as a social enterprise. Ken and Foo Seng take a modest salary but any profits go to sponsoring the poor (including refugees) to go on the program. (http://goodstewardsmalaysia.weebly.com/blessing-the-underprivileged.html ) Among the organisations they will be working with is the Dignity For Children Foundation. The Good Stewards programme combines the best of outdoor activities with lifetime reflections.
For more information, go to http://goodstewardsmalaysia.weebly.com/
References For Pictures
Picture of Children taken from Good Stewards' Website