October Wild Game, Tame Garden Part 2! – Oh, Wow!George Shamblin
The Lord has made everything beautiful in its time, so from time to time, as the seasons dictate, I’m continuing a series called Wild Game, Tame Garden. Join me as we explore topics ranging from hunting in the wild to gardening right outside your own back door. If David saw God’s fingerprints painted across the sky, or if Solomon could glean wisdom among ants, how much more could we learn from the creation in which we live? I hope you enjoy this second segment of Wild Game, Tame Garden.
Glancing over my shoulder I saw that not a single waiter or busboy—not even those who had finished their chores—looked out the huge windows. Old Faithful, grown entirely too familiar, had lost its power to impress them. Religious faith can work the same way. Jews in the 19th century France had a saying to describe the decline of spiritual ardor over the generations: ‘The grandfather prays in Hebrew, the father reads the prayers in French, the son does not pray at all.’
In the summer of 1991, after her Senior year at Auburn, my wife Jill ventured out on a 1,774-mile trek westward. Her destination was Yellowstone, specifically Canyon Village, where she worked scooping ice cream. Just three years before her arrival, the sites, scenery, and landscape of America’s most venerated Park had been forever altered. The ’88 fires, as they became ominously known, ravaged 36% of the entire Park; an astonishing 1.4 million acres went up in flames. Then, on September 11th, 1988, the fires finally subsided thanks to a quarter inch of snowfall.
The mourning process of what Yellowstone “had once been” started soon thereafter. Rare flowers, many felt, unique to the region would never blossom again—atypical foliage is gone forever. Breeds of wildlife that were nearing extinction edged closer to the brink. Such language makes one wonder: when did humanity first lose sight of God’s neat way of making wrongs just right?
Have we grown so worldly-wise as to cast off a simple childhood refrain, “He’s got the whole world in His hands.” “According to Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, and forever.” The world, therefore, remains ever secure in His hands, even in its roughest shape.
The recovery from the fires began almost immediately, with plants such as fireweed appearing in a matter of days. Wildflowers proliferated beyond everyone’s imagination; as if they were clothed more than King Solomon in all his glory.
Aspens—long a species of concern in the northern Rockies—appeared in areas of the Park where, to everyone’s knowledge, they had not previously existed. And with one genius stoke from the Vinedresser’s hand, seeds that require fire to open, like that of lodgepole pines, could finally germinate. The regeneration in Yellowstone was so vast that no replanting got attempted. Be sure to note that if the Lord can bring light out of said devastation, how much more can God shine glory into whatever desperate situation you’re facing?
As for my wife Jill, it had been 34 years and four children later since she last saw Yellowstone. Our family returned there in 2017; it was the best trip of our lifetime. The sites, scenery, and landscape of America’s most revered Park had lost no luster. No one flower, animal, or foliage had lost its power to impress, unlike the yawns and lackadaisical nature of Old Faithful’s employees Yancey referred. Regrowth, recovery, and revitalization, all transpired after 1988, sent us away saying “Oh wow!”
Lastly, I’d like you to file Joel 2:25 somewhere; on a wadded-up piece of paper on your desk, on a notecard taped onto your car dash, or in a readily accessible part of your mind. Because a number of you are likely amid fires burning beyond your control, most centered around broken relationships if I were to guess. Among family tends to top the list. Nothing speaks to your shambled situation better or instills greater hope to mend it in the future than Joel 2:25. Joel’s good word is nothing less than God’s secured promise which will never run out. He guarantees as much in His word “Although the grass withers, and the flower fades, the word of our God stands forever.” Isaiah 40:8. So be encouraged, keep your chin up, the Lord God has a neat way of making wrongs just right.