Some time Sunday something very, very sad happened out on Bittersweet Farm. The Barred Owl that lived in the woods south of the farm was killed on the road. Standing over the sad site by heart ached.
This fall I have been trying to encourage the people of Bethel with a series of sermons I called Life is Hard. I have been reminding them that the hardships we face on earth are because of the fall. All the creation of God was beautiful and Adam and Even were placed in a garden. When they sinned the beauty of the garden was disrupted with brokenness and a curse. This curse included separation from God and immediate spiritual death. Now all living things were subject to death. The whole earth now labors under a curse. Now living things that we cherish will die. This is known among theologians as “the fall of mankind.”
One day Jesus will return and there will be a new heaven and a new earth and there will be no more curse and no more brokenness. All who place their faith him him will be forever delivered from the curse and forever included in the Eternal Kingdom of God on an earth that will never again be polluted with sin and it’s damning effects. We all long for that day, especially when death touches our lives in some way.
An Autumn Drive
Saturday, when I looked up from my football game out across the fields to the bright yellow Maples in the tree line and it occured to me that I only had a few hours of daylight left to enjoy an October afternoon in Michigan. I suppose I should have gone out on my gravel bike to explore but I made a softer choice. Lois was out of town. I took my 4Runner out for a drive to enjoy the color. My car car (Elliot is his name) found his way to the Jerome Country Store. I would get a brisket sandwich to enjoy on my color-tour.
As I drove I listened to a recording of my friend Don Jackson preaching to men at Camp Barakel. It was recorded at the Men’s Retreat last weekend. He faithfully reminded them of the brevity of life, the curse of sin, and the the certainty of meeting God in judgment one day.
I took the long way home passing under trees still full of bright, colorful leaves. In a quiet spot I pulled over and ate my brisket sandwich and checked the messages on my phone. One of them was from one of our ladies at Bethel.
Great tragedy had struck her family. Her brother had fallen from a scaffolding earlier that day and he was killed. I could not imagine how deep her sadness must have been to lose a beloved brother in a tragic accident so suddenly. I struggled to find words to comfort her. I thought of my brothers and my sister, our understanding, our common experiences and convictions, our love for each other. I could not imagine the shock and pain of getting a phone call on a Saturday afternoon and finding out one of them had died in a sudden and tragic way.
Reminders of a New Creation to Come
We’re beginning our seventh year living on Bittersweet Farm and the Barred Owl has called out at dusk and sometimes daylight for all those years. The sound of the Barred Owl calling from the woods was always a reminder to me of the favor and blessing of God shown to us in the privilege of living among while things in the country. I feel the same at sunset and in a snowstorm or when I hear the coyotes howling on a winter night.
We mourned the great bird’s fate. I told my birder friend, Dr. Dave. He shared our sorrow and promised to pray for one of our owl’s vocal offspring to take his place in the woods across the way.
Jesus often used creation to illustrate truth and all who follow him and are familiar with his words know that a fallen sparrow is a reminder of his constant care for his own. When our lives are touched with death he intends for us to find deep consolation in him and in his promises of a new creation of unimaginable beauty and delight even greater than Michigan in October.
Bittersweet Farm | October 24, 2023