Years ago, I traveled to California and had an opportunity to visit Yosemite National Park. I especially enjoyed seeing the sequoia trees and Redwood Forest. The trees were incredibly large. I had seen pictures, but was amazed at their greatness once in person. I love history, so when I was reading some of the markers around the great trees, I was surprised to read about one tree in particular that was alive before Jesus Christ lived on the earth. I stood there thinking, Can you imagine this tree was alive at the same time Jesus Christ walked the shores of Galilee? The markers told the story of early lumberjacks that, without considering the treasures they were destroying, cut down these awesome spectacles for the wood they would produce. Thank God for the preservation movements that helped to rescue our national treasures so we have something to see and experience today.
When I was a kid, I watched Smokey the Bear commercials, which urged us to be careful to prevent forest fires. The understanding of the time declared reducing forest fires will preserve the sequoias and redwoods. The classic Disney film, Bambi, told the story of the devastation of forest fires as everyone did their share to protect humanity from disaster. In time, the naturalists realized our efforts to save the forests were actually a hindrance as they began to realize that fire was not an enemy. In fact, it was essentially a “friend” to the forests. They discovered that the giant trees had a natural fire retardant in their bark, and the seeds of the grand trees could only germinate through the heat of the forest fires. Also, regular fires coming through kept the underbrush down, so when a fire came through, it would not be as severe and could actually preserve the integrity of the forests in the long run. If the park rangers were successful in keeping all the fires out, in time, the old trees would die without new generations to take their place. How tragic when we fail to understand the power of temporary loss for the long-term gain.
Another Dying “Forest”
We can see this principle at work in the economy of our country. Because of the terror of the great depression and other economic crises, our nation’s leaders created the Federal Reserve to protect us from volatile situations. One of the major goals of this government agency is to protect and create jobs. In recent times, Federal Reserve intervention has increased in regularity as part of managing the economic cycles. Their mandate is to protect us from severe times and to do everything possible to create an environment of growth. Currently, we are in a state when everyone is asking, “What happened to all the good jobs and why have we become a nation of low paid people?” Alarmingly, an increasing number of part-time workers now only take whatever opportunity arises. We continue to protect the “old tree concept,” like in the case of the automotive industry, only to find out that the core is still old and in need of replacement. Although we have protected and preserved the old, we have, at the same time, gifted ourselves a dying “forest.” Many people will say the Federal Reserve was successful because they turned the economy around; yet, they ignored the evidence of the long-term decline. The effort to raise the minimum wage so that people in the fast food industry can have a living wage sounds good, but in the process of doing so, are we creating an underclass that have no future beyond a job at a fast food restaurant? I am looking for someone who will see the bigger picture and lead our country based on a sound, long-term plan of action that may even include times of suffering for long-term gain!
Doing Our Part
It may seem that I have decided to be an economist, but in fact, I am still content to be a messenger of God. The God who created the natural order has given us a witness to His wisdom in the natural world He created. If we would observe His creation, we would see the need for the delicate balance of the natural order in harmony with human stewardship. A steward understands that control of the world is not the goal: being a manager of what God has given is the goal. The basis of our management must be built on the premise of working with the order God has given, not thinking we can control it with human desire. God has created pain as a part of the order of life and we must be a people willing to bear pain with a long-term goal in mind. The prophet Jeremiah lived in a time when the people had become consumers instead of producers. Even the religious leaders had become more interested in their immediate desire than the long-term purpose of God. Jeremiah 10:19 (NKJV) says, “Woe is me for my hurt! My wound is severe.” But I say, ‘Truly this is an infirmity, And I must bear it.’” A messenger of God must declare the God Who is the help of His people, while teaching the people about the need to accept the pain of our current crisis without panicking—for it is preparing us for the day of blessing which is yet to come!