/ COVID-19 / Mark Loughridge

Mother Earth or Father God?

Apparently, the city of Venice is enjoying crystal clear waters in its world-famous canals due to a lack of debris from tourists and near-zero boat traffic under Italy's ongoing coronavirus lockdown.

Pollution monitoring satellites from over Wuhan show the air clear—the mist of dust and pollution dissipated. Satellite imagery also shows a significant reduction in Nitrogen Dioxide levels over the city, a drop estimated near 30 percent.

I have seen a number of memes advocating that this is Mother Earth’s way of healing herself. She is taking matters into her own hands and clearing the oceans, stopping us flying, cutting down the air pollution etc. This draws no pushback on Facebook posts that I have seen.

Apparently she is telling us not just to take care of the planet, but to slow down, and spend time with the people we love, to get out and enjoy nature, that life isn’t all just about work etc, etc. And, the implication is, we really need to stop and listen to what she is saying.

It featured yesterday on a national radio station, it crops up in conversation, and we are all meant to nod sagely at the wisdom of this proclamation.

My wife turned to me and commented, “Mother Earth is commended for communicating with us, but if you were to say that God is communicating those same things, all he would get is fist-shaking and blame.”

Fine for Mother Earth to have a voice, but not so much for the Father of Creation.

And he does speak in this way. In all this, I find something strangely reminiscent of the exile.

“He carried into exile to Babylon the remnant… The land enjoyed its sabbath rests; all the time of its desolation it rested…” 2 Chronicles 36:20,21

All the years of their living in the Promised Land the people hadn't followed the instructions of Exodus 23:10-11 and Leviticus 25:1-7. It was emblematic of their departure from God and preoccupation with everything but God.  So God brought everything in the land to a halt.    

I’m not drawing an exact parallel for the nations are not the redeemed covenant people of God. But God has a way of working. He has, as it were, a certain artistic style. He periodically brings peoples to a grinding, shuddering halt.

We see it at Babel. Man, full of industry, decides he can dispense with God. God with the merest of touches, light as a feather, brings confusion and brings everything to a halt. Man is left fumbling about having to start again.

We see it with the Babylonian empire. Its great strides to power, its God-humbling celebration at its zenith, then a hand appears, and God says, “That’s enough.” Farewell Babylon—again.

We see it at other times in history—Alexander the Great, Rome, the Third Reich, etc. God has a way of slowing arrogant advance. Of showing how weak and fragile we are. As nations we have pillaged his world, ignored his day, rejected his Son, banished his presence, rewritten his laws, and proclaimed ourselves masters of our fate. We are consumed with our own awesomeness.

And not Mother Earth but Father God says, as it were, “Not so much. You will stop. You will take your sabbath rest. Work will not be your idol. Money will not be your security. Turn to me and be saved all your ends of the earth. Kiss the Son, lest you perish. Blessed are those who trust in him.”

May this time of a shuddering halt be a time for reflection and reordering of priorities, where we hear God's voice—yes about the creation—but more especially about us.

Mark Loughridge

Mark Loughridge

Mark pastors 2 churches in the Republic of Ireland. He is married with three daughters. Before entering the ministry he studied architecture. He enjoys open water swimming, design, and watching rugby.

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