In Genesis 2:8, we are told that the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man He had formed. There seems to be nothing more calculated, naturally and scientifically, to point to a Creator than nature itself. The things that are made declare the invisible things of Him since the creation of the world – even His everlasting power and divinity (Romans 1:20).
Interestingly, keeping the Sabbath and country living share common purposes (some almost indistinguishable) that in themselves have eternal implications. They are both vivid reminders of a Creative Power. These can exponentially increase intellectual (not just abstracts) and creative energy. Physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional health are much better for those living correctly in the country. The book Desire of Ages highlights that the scenes of nature are a rest in themselves and a change grateful to the senses (White, 361). By literally beholding nature, we become changed.
If God would set aside an entire day (holiday) for resting His own thoughts on His created works, then being daily surrounded by these scenes of nature could only provide a better appreciation of who God is and His mighty works. In awe of such grandeur, human nature is inclined to worship, and rightly so; yet without divine aid, our praises may be directed to the created works rather than the creator. Romans 1:25 states that true worship is also inspired by nature. Worship, the final issue in the great controversy, will be about nature. No doubt, it’s the convulsions of nature that will spur the global mandate to worship (see ‘The Great Controversy’ – Impending conflict).
In the context of stewardship, country living or nature living takes on new meaning. It invites us to embrace the simplicity of ownership and management of our time, talents, treasure and body temple. Let’s quickly, but carefully, examine these attributes:
- Time – We must give account to God for our time more than anything else. Time management in city living involves intensity, leisurelessness, forbidding, distracted travelling, long lines, aimless moments, gruelling employments, and home maintenance and management. In stark contrast, country living allows for composure, relaxed travel, delightful self-employment, and humble dwellings free of labour-intensive cares. Here families spend more private time together and with God. Simply put, we have more rest and less stress.
- Talent – Jesus our perfect example, for 30 years, developed His gifts and talents in a mountain village. Most, if not all, Old Testament patriarchs possessed gifts and talents that were developed in similar settings. The scope for developing skills and talents and becoming industrious is even greater in rural environments than in the cities. Many Christians fear economic loss and mental health trauma when transitioning to the countryside. However, if this move is strategically done, it could end up being the best decision
- Treasure – Money as treasure can be used far more extensively in a humbler but equally beneficial environment. Money, or treasure, is the most significant factor contemplated by many when they think of stewardship. There may be no better time for Christians to get the best prices for their city homes, often adorned with expansive unused space and underutilized facilities, and they enjoy two or more times the value of their money, while free of the strain associated with managing these possessions. With the IMF prediction of impending, severe global economic crises, we have the golden opportunity of leaving the cities and moving closer to nature.
- Temple – The single greatest environmental benefit to be derived from country living is a significant improvement in health. Ellen White posits that the mind is a significant cause of illnesses, and even invalids can recover health by living in the country (White – MOH 264). Ontario is home to a large population of people with serious mental health issues. Toronto is ranked 6th among cities with the worst air quality. One expert believes the air quality should be given more attention than the food we eat at this time, given the threat it now poses to human health. It is only through our temple that God communicates with us. It is imperative that we take care of our bodies.
In summary, only the plan that comes from God will lead us back to God. Since the new creation, like the Sabbath, will be eternal, we must develop an appreciation for an essential part of preparing for the life to come.
By Montie Thomas