Lenten Devotion by Pastor Christian Chavarría Ayala
In our modern times it seems that no one cares about our planet, despite the fact that we are strongly called to do so. Rich countries often protect their own environments at the expense of others. In our case in El Salvador, for example, the natural environment was largely destroyed during the war. And in the post-war period there is little or nothing that has been done to protect our forests. Water resources have become a commodity issue where the owners of the aquifers want to take advantage of the lack of access to this resource.
Sadly, we often mistakenly believe we own the land and all that exists on it. But the word of God always reminds us who is the true owner of the land and what contains: God. Psalm 24:12. God calls us to be good stewards with the inheritance He has lent to us, to share what He has created so that we all enjoy these gifts.
We have been poor administrators and have not managed well the gift that God has given us - life. We have distanced ourselves from God and we have fallen into the trap of the world. This world of consumerism has created so many false, nonexistent needs. If you have the latest in fashion you are "happy", and we go through life stressed out when we cannot find what we want in the stores; if we do not have it we are "unhappy". Our life becomes bitter when we see that others are fashionable and we are not; we feel like losers in a world that teaches us day after day to be winners.
We do not manage well what we earn. Many times we have not finished the month when we have already spent our entire salary due to the needs created by the consumerist system. We live constantly fighting to be winners and we forget about others. Having money is obviously not bad, but can be very useful. As a human being the bad thing is not knowing how to manage it or being naturally greedy.
Water is a vital resource that we must protect. However, we often do not manage it well, whether consciously or unconsciously. Perhaps because we always have it? Perhaps because we do not know what it is to live without water for even one day?
In Calderitas last year the pump that supplied water to the entire community was ruined, leaving more than 700 families for a period of more than 3 months without this vital liquid. This community has gone through a very difficult period but the time has served to reflect on how we can take more care of this resource; it helped the community to become more united, and above all it opened the conscience of the population and sensitized everyone to do everything possible to protect the aquifers. It has led us all to look for ways to create different protection projects. As a Lutheran church we are betting on two projects: reforestation with retaining trees and water suppliers, and with the planting of fish in the lagoon that serves as a source of food for families in Calderitas and other surrounding communities. We do not yet have the money, but we will achieve this goal because we are willing to work on it.
The work becomes immense in the community, because it is a process of reeducation of the population not to use more plastic, to consume fewer sugary drinks, not to discard their cans when they go to the woods, to plant more trees and take greater care of the fauna. Removing ideas that have been placed in people's heads by the system is almost impossible, but it is our duty to take care of these resources for today and tomorrow. And it is our commitment as Christians.
The Lenten season is very useful for us to take advantage of and teach about meditation, fasting, prayer and action. God has given us these resources to enjoy them and never to treat them with pettiness, and He has delegated to us the responsibility to protect all that He has put in our hands. The Word of God tells us that when they put the nets in the lake and filled them with fish and began to take them out, the nets broke and some of that blessing began to be lost. So we, too, often let the blessings that God gives us fall out of our hands. In order not to lose them, we must walk with God and not be carried away by the current of the materialism. We must have discernment and not let the words and pretty promises of the enemy confuse us.
When God created the earth He entrusted it to man to care for it and cultivate (Genesis 1:28, 31, 2:15). Will God, our creator, be happy or satisfied with the current state of the earth? Sometimes our silence or indifference contributes to the deterioration of this beautiful planet.
Each of our acts must be harmonized with the processes that God has installed on earth to process all the waste that we generate. We must learn to recycle, although this requires an extra effort from us but it demonstrates our desire to clean the land. For the use we give our resources will show whether or not we consider all of this to be a gift from God. Do not waste resources just because they are present in abundance. Even Jesus sent the disciples to collect all the food that was left over after a large crowd was fed. He did not want anything to be lost from what his Father had provided (John 6: 12).
This Lent let us ask God for wisdom, discernment to become aware of how poorly we have done, and reverse the damage to our house. But we also have to make a commitment to do at least one good thing per day that helps protect our environment. Maybe consuming a less-carbonated drink a day? Maybe using a bag less per week? Perhaps raising the awareness of a friend, a neighbor, a relative not to waste resources? Etc. There are plenty of "little things" that will make a big difference. Let's begin to properly manage our own life according to God's will for His children.
May the grace of God that surpasses all understanding keep our hearts and minds in Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Christian Chavarría Ayala