God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.’ ”
In yesterday’s Life for Leaders devotion, we considered the amazing truth that God has invited us to be his coworkers in the completion of creation. This truth can fill us with gratitude and joy. It can encourage and empower us. And it can also overwhelm us. When we consider the needs of the world around us, how can we ever hope to make even the tiniest difference? We may be tempted to give up the effort before we even begin, feeling that the challenge before us is simply too great.
I know how this feels. Since I was young, I have enjoyed woodworking and doing minor construction projects. When I was in high school, I built a patio cover for some neighbors, using their radial arm saw to do the job. Ever since that time I yearned to have my very own radial arm saw. My big chance came in 1988, when Sears was having a blowout sale on power saws. I spent several hundred dollars on the saw of my dreams, carting home a box that weighed more than two hundred pounds. When I finally got it into my garage, I excitedly opened it, only to find, not a radial arm saw, but rather what seemed like a million pieces of a radial arm saw. I looked at the instructions, quickly realizing that it would take hours and hours to put my saw together. So, I did the sensible thing. I taped the box shut and left it in the middle of my garage. For the next three years, I did not have a radial arm saw so much as a very expensive work bench made out of a radial arm saw box.
What God entrusted to us in creation is rather like my radial arm saw: wonderful, filled with potential, and powerful, but with “some assembly required.” Quite a bit of assembly, actually. This truth can encourage us or intimidate us. Encouragement will prevail over intimidation when we remember a few other biblical truths. First, we are one member of the team of God’s people who share together in the work of stewarding creation. Therefore, we aren’t responsible for the whole job, just our particular part. Second, God has given each of us talents to be used for our work. Thus, our responsibility is not to do that for which we are ill equipped, but rather to use our strengths effectively. Third, beyond our natural talents, God has given the Holy Spirit to us. The very presence and power of God dwells in us. Fourth, God has given Scripture to teach us, guide us, and help us grow in relationship with him. Though the Bible is not as specific and detailed as a radial arm saw instruction book, it leads us in the way of God’s wisdom and offers a vision of what God’s world ought to be.
Therefore, though the task before us is great, God is far greater. And since God is on our side, we should not be afraid. Let’s start putting together the saw.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the responsibility entrusted to you by God? If so, when? If not, why not? How would you describe your role in the stewardship of creation? What are some of the strengths God has given you? How has God helped you in the past through the power of the Holy Spirit?
Gracious God, thank you for the responsibilities you have entrusted to us and for all you have given us to fulfill them. Sometimes, Lord, we can feel overwhelmed by the challenges. A part of us wants to shut down, to run and hide. Help us, we pray, not to be afraid. Give us clarity about our part in your great work. Give us courage to do what you place before us. Give us power to accomplish what we would never be able to do on our own. May you receive all the glory! Amen.