“When God established the force of the wind
and measured out the waters,
when he made a decree for the rain
and a path for the thunderstorm,
then he looked at wisdom and appraised it;
he confirmed it and tested it.
And he said to the human race,
“The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom,
and to shun evil is understanding.” Job 28: 25-28
Wilderness paddlers never underestimate how much time and effort it takes to get afloat on a wild river untouched by man. That is because everywhere people go, there is ample evidence of repeated assaults on the natural environment. It is part of our conquering DNA I suppose, of a deep, inner impulse to remake, refashion, and call it “mine”. Although this drive to create is God-given, we often do so with egotistical abandon, unwisely usurping the title and glory of the Creator. Just visit ruins though-the great pyramids, the Acropolis, Petra, Stonehenge-all manmade things built in a race to command and control, intimidate and dominate. Even these are only temporary. The re-engineered rivers, the cement kingdoms we call home, and the miles of coastline we’ve tamed will, all too soon, crack, decay and return to the earth as surely as we do, victims of fire, flood, neglect, and time.
Not far from the Mississippi River there is a barn on a hill in western Illinois that has, at least in our lifetime, stood proud, defiant in the face of stinging northwest winds, its bones leached by decades of relentless summer sun. Sixty years ago it was a robust symbol of the agricultural subjugation of the vast prairies. We drove by it last week, and found instead a tired, sagging structure with sun streaming through multiple holes in the roof-only one generation left until it returns to dust.
Take a good, long look across the River of this life. We too are simply time-warped dust while God stands outside of time, unchanging, and all wise. We paddlers are apt to seek out the remotest rivers to escape into unsullied nature, and the beauty of what we encounter always hushes our hearts and makes our spirits soar. But, we are mistaken if we worship nature instead of the Creator who made it all. Everything but God is a tired, old barn. Wisdom alone knows what counts.
Please leave your comments and suggestions. I am happy to dialogue and debate with you! Thank you for reading.