Blooming Deserts

By |2024-05-09T02:33:11-04:00May 9th, 2024|

A century ago, lush forest covered roughly 40 percent of Ethiopia, but today it’s around 4 percent. Clearing acreage for crops while failing to protect the trees has led to an ecological crisis. The vast majority of the remaining small patches of green are protected by churches. For centuries, local Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido churches have nurtured these oases in the midst of the barren desert. If you look at aerial images, you see verdant islands surrounded by brown sand. Church leaders insist that watching over the trees is part of their obedience to God as stewards of His creation.

The prophet Isaiah wrote to Israel, a people who lived in an arid land where bare desert and brutal droughts threatened. And Isaiah described the future God intended, where “the desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom” (Isaiah 35:1). God intends to heal His people, but He intends to heal the earth too. He’ll “create new heavens and a new earth” (65:17). In God’s renewed world, “The desert will bloom with flowers” (35:2 nirv).

God’s care for creation—including people—motivates us to care for it too. We can live in sync with His ultimate plan for a healed and whole world—being caretakers of what He’s made. We can join God in making all kinds of deserts bloom with life and beauty.