By Emily Armstrong
He came into the room and handed me a little box and said “Merry Christmas, I hope you like it.”
I took the little square box into my hands. I felt around the edges and shook it a little, just to see if I could figure out what was hidden inside before I actually lifted off the top.
“Go on…open it!” my husband urged me.
As I lifted off the small cover, I knew immediately what it was. It was a necklace. But not just any necklace – it was the necklace that I had wanted for the past year. It was a necklace that had to be designed just for me. The four unique charms caught my eye instantly, the first of which being a small silver moon with the words “To the moon and back” stamped on it. The second was a small circle with the words “Elijah” and “Sydney” stamped on it. The last two were small, plastic, circular charms – one the color of an emerald and the other the color of an amethyst.
It was the “mother” necklace that always caught my eye when I saw it. I had dreamed of wearing it every single day, thinking about my children every time I put it on. It was the perfect complement for jeans and a t-shirt or my Sunday dress. “To the moon and back” was the phrase from a children’s book that we read over and over again when they were no taller than my waist. There was nothing more perfect in my mind.
“So, do you like it?” my husband asked me with expectation in his eyes. He knew he had hit a home run with this gift and was anxiously awaiting my nod of confirmation, and maybe even a few tears of joy to run down my cheeks.
“I love it,” I replied. “It’s exactly what I’ve always wanted – in fact, it surpassed what I even knew I wanted. You chose the perfect charms! You remembered the book we read together when they were young and you chose colors that match their birth months. It’s beautiful.”
Taking the exquisite necklace into my hands, I thanked my husband and then quickly threw the precious gift into the trashcan.
That doesn’t make sense. Is this real life? What in the world would possess someone to trash a precious gift that was designed just for him or her? My honest answer is, I don’t know, but it happens everyday.
The first handful of words in the Bible introduces us to our God, the Creator. Laced throughout the poetic writings of the Psalms we see the praises of the Creator being proclaimed. This Creator, OUR God, lovingly designed everything with purpose. He knew what we wanted before we knew what we wanted. Creation wasn’t just utilitarian; it was aesthetically pleasing. God the Creator handed humanity – a part of God’s creation – a gift.
The world he created was a perfect ecosystem that was picture-perfect when it all worked together – that is the picture of the Garden of Eden in the beginning chapters of Genesis. The earth was watered by the rains that fell and the streams that rushed through it. The sun, moon and stars governed the seasons so that the perfect amounts of rain would fall, producing lush vegetation that in turn would nourish forever the animals and the people. People and animals eating the fruits of the earth would create a natural pruning process, which provoked more abundant harvests in the future. Man needed nature just as much as nature needed man. It was flawless.
However, perfection comes to a screeching halt when Adam and Eve sin. Genesis 3:21 says, “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.” Death has come to natural creation, and now shame needs to be “covered” by the killing of the same animals that had previously been in perfect harmony with man. Nature is “exploited” and the flawless relationship that the divine Creator had set in motion is marred.
One of my favorite parts of being a Nazarene is that we are optimistic. We believe that God is restoring perfect relationship between the Creator and his creation. And because God is actively restoring the relationship with us, it compels us to restore perfect relationship as well. Could this possibly mean that we should be seeking a flawless relationship with nature? Obviously so.
Remember the necklace that I threw away? Even after my husband had so carefully and thoughtfully created it for me? I didn’t really throw it away – I cherished it. I wear it almost every single day, and think about the blessing that my family is to me. I have had to replace the chain twice. I have had to buy a special polishing cloth for it. I go out of the way to appreciate it.
Could it be, that restoring perfect relationship with nature is not an optional part of Christianity? I propose that we don’t get to choose if we should care for God’s natural creation or not – it’s part of the covenant we make when we ask him to be our Savior.
Maybe you think that recycling is about politics, that putting trash in the trash can is an inconvenience, or growing your own vegetables is a little over the top. Maybe you’ve never even thought about why a Christian should prioritize caring for God’s creation. Well, now you know. We should care. God shared his special creation with us, as a perfect gift – and it’s because of this that we will honor our Creator by taking care of it.