Friday, February 22, 2008

The Spirit of Nature

While I was reading the Bible this morning I noticed Psalm 104. The anonymous author spends most of the first half of his poem talking about the wonders of the earth and the interplay of all creation--from the creation of our planet, to the seas and the mountains, to the birds and grass and cattle and plants that produce olive oil, bread and wine (that he mentions, to all my teetotaling friends, “gladdens the heart of man”). Then he highlights the moon and the sun and the game of tag between day and night.

In verse 24 he writes: “How many are your works, O Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.” He mentions that the creatures look to God for their food, and need God’s provision to survive. But what struck me most was verse 30: “When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth.”

God didn’t just spend six days creating the earth and all that lives on it.

He spends every day doing it.

That got me thinking about the whole concept of “nature” and “the natural world.” How natural is it, if God’s Spirit is what gives life to all things?

I decided to look up the word “nature” and found out that it comes from a French word nature in the 1300s that means “creative power in the material world,” which comes from the Latin word natura which literally means “birth” or, the verb form, “to give birth.”


So I guess I do believe there’s such a thing as nature. And it’s evidenced by the touching of God’s life-giving Spirit on every leaf that buds, every bird that hatches, every newborn animal and planet that awakens to the light of day.

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