Raising your children in the isolation and solitude of a remote family farmstead had advantages and challenges. Living without electricity prevented the luxury of television or other kinds of commercial entertainment other than their childhood collections of cassette tapes and occasional broadcasts of Mystery Theater on the radio. Their choice of playmates was limited to whoever happened to move onto the neighboring ranches and with each other. As a result they occupied themselves much of the time making friends with the farm animals, playing in their tree house, catching lizards and riding their ponies. Katie had dolls and plastic horses and Brook had trucks and plastic guns. When they were young, life was pretty basic. Sometimes as parents we felt we were cheating them from the kinds of things other children got to do, but looking back at it now I realize there is a richness concerning the reality of life that can only be discovered in the simplicity of nature. I believe these things had a lasting effect on our kids and in many ways formed them into the unique people they later became.
scan0028 Living on a small farm kids learn that the substance of life comes from work and sacrifice. I watched as they made friends and even named the farm animals that would later be served at the family table. They observed that food wasn’t an instant commodity, but takes an entire growing season to reach maturity so that it can be pulled up or picked. They watch the constant battle to protect the vegetables and chickens from the underground attacks of the gopher or the stealth night work of the raccoon. They watched and helped in the butchering and the preserving processes of both meat and produce. Sex education was learned through their inquisitive observations in the horse pasture or through the wire of the rabbit hutch. They saw how the pain and wonder of birth produced the filly they would know and ride for the years that were to come. We watched as they discovered the mysteries, miracles and struggles of nature that revealed to them the reality of their Creator. Later in life they both became environmentalists with a deep appreciation and love for the creation that went far deeper than mountains, rocks and trees.
scan00226The Apostle Paul once said that the truth about God has been made known to man instinctively. He said that God himself puts this knowledge into our hearts. He tells us that from the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made and because of it we can clearly see his invisible qualities – his eternal power and his divine nature so that we are without excuse whatsoever from knowing Him. This passage in Romans 1 has always spoken to me because not only did I personally discover God though nature, but I watched my kids do it as well. When we say “nature” we literally are talking about the nature of God.
scan0029To appreciate a flower for its aroma and natural beauty is a wonderful gift, but if we dare to take the time to look closer, past the surface, we will see the mystery of the miraculous. Sometimes being caught in the busyness of adult life we forget to wonder at the changing seasons or the value of the bee that is internally programmed to pollinate. We overlook the worm that aerates and enriches the soil, or the radar system of the bat that naturally eradicates the mosquito. In our adultness we are in danger of the shallowness that misses a deeper truth; a truth that tells us that behind this magnificent creation there is an invisible Designer. If we will stop and listen we will hear this truth both whisper and shout of a Craftsman that chose to exercise His great eternal power to put everything we as environmentalists and naturalists care about into motion. If only we could recapture the innocent authentic inquisitiveness of a child again we might see past the creation to the Creator himself valuing what He has done not because of mother nature, but because it belongs to and was given to us by Father God.