Anaheim SDA Church
Mid-week Pastor’s Update
May 4th, 2022
“Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways, and be wise.” Proverbs 6:6
This past weekend, I had a wonderful time at the Pathfinder campout, worshipping, learning, hiking, and playing with several dozen (perhaps a hundred?) young people from around Orange county. Our church members Joel, Cledy, and Allyson Milla, along with Jenny Hastings, really did a wonderful job with the organization of it! And local club leader Margarito Gonzales and his crew of cooks & volunteers deserve recognition as well. Praise the Lord, it all came together in a beautiful weekend of nature, togetherness, fun and faith in a community context. It will be a highlight in my memory for some time (even as my forehead sunburn fades :-p)
After finishing our last meeting on Sunday morning, our group packed up its tents and the kitchen provisions and pulled-out. I decided to stay for about an extra hour, just enjoying the serenity of the place, now that my speaking responsibilities were through. The campsite was really lovely – though Caspers Wilderness park is struggling with dryness (none of the plumbing was working, because the water table has dropped and their wells had gone dry), the hills and trees were quite green. So I enjoyed the tranquility of the place as I prayed and recapped the weekend in my mind.
As I sat there being still for some time, I saw that nature was really coming alive around me. I saw the wingspans of large birds circling overhead, and heard little ones chirping in the trees above and behind me. I saw a gopher sticking his head up out of its hole periodically to survey what was around, and saw a lizard darting to and fro, doing its little push-ups. I saw rabbits scampering in the underbrush of some bushes, and had heard coyotes howling in the early morning, but what really impressed me was the ants.
Though we’d seen some ants at our campsite during the weekend, they hadn’t been a significant bother. But now that the place was emptier, the ants really came out in force! And not just one kind of ant- I saw ants that were as tiny as a pinpoint, and others that might have been a half-centimeter long – something like 5x the size of the small ones! But they were all bustling by each-other, each hurriedly on their way somewhere without giving much notice to the others. The very surface of the dirt seemed to come alive with them, and it was really something to observe – kind of like how freeways & side-streets must look from helicopters. And some of them had bits in their mouths – the large bits being as big as some of the small ants – and I remembered how I’ve heard it said that ants can carry many times their own weight. Amazing!
The whole lively community of nature really fascinated me: here in this serene and oft ignored place, was a veritable metropolis of nature! Various species bustling to and fro, all scampering for food, or seeking to find a mate, etc. Obviously I knew it wasn’t a ‘utopia’, as there were certainly violent and deadly altercations on a daily basis out there, but observing the whole thing as a silent observer fascinated me. Here was a whole world of activity, existing independently of humanity and its concerns: they had no concept of wealth or poverty, trade-wars, macroeconomics or climate change or warfare or political bickering (which has since raised to a fever pitch with the recent news out of the supreme court), and I just thought it incredible. I was marveling!
It almost felt like this stuff was more ‘real life’ than the constructed realities we make for ourselves as humans. I remember that it was this natural world that characters of Bible times more lived in, rather than the ‘cement jungles’ we’ve created for ourselves in the past couple hundred years. I remembered how so many illustrations and lessons, including Jesus’ parables, came from nature’s rhythms, and how those lessons can be largely lost to our modern generation in its constructed framework.
And I just thought about how nature still reveals God’s character. Though it’s corrupted, though evidences of sin are there too, just what I beheld there for that hour or so was incredible. Hustle and bustle, organization, home-making, diverse creatures living in a structured community.
I really love reading the sections of books like Isaiah which describe some of what nature will be like on the New Earth. I’ll finish today with an some quotes from chapters 11 and 65:
“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb,
The leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
The calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
And a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze;
Their young ones shall lie down together;
And the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole,
And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den.
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,
For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord
As the waters cover the sea.”
“They shall build houses and inhabit them;
They shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
They shall not build and another inhabit;
They shall not plant and another eat;
For as the days of a tree, so shall be the days of My people,
And My elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
They shall not labor in vain,
Nor bring forth children for trouble;
For they shall be the descendants of the blessed of the Lord,
And their offspring with them.
“It shall come to pass
That before they call, I will answer;
And while they are still speaking, I will hear.
The wolf and the lamb shall feed together,
The lion shall eat straw like the ox,
And dust shall be the serpent’s food.
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,”
Says the Lord.
I pray that you get a chance to enjoy the tranquility, yet fascination, of God’s creation sometime soon. As the Apostle Paul says in Romans 1:20, nature reveals God’s attributes, so that people are without excuse regarding knowing about Him or His principles.
May God bless you and your loved ones this week and beyond.
Pr. Mark Tatum