The Common Good

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Sparrow

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.  – Matthew 10:29, NIV

Here in Washington, when you ask someone “what’s your issue?” you don’t want to know what’s wrong with her or him — you’re asking, what policy issue do you work on? Where is your heart?

My heart is in creation care. I grew up loving nature and was taught about ecosystems through hiking, gardening, hunting, and fishing with my parents and family friends. Now I keep my love of nature going in Washington, D.C. by working in creation care policy.

Frankly, it’s stressful. Every day, I learn about new things that are harming the environment. Another species is extinct. Another oil spill has spoiled a neighborhood. Plastic micro-beads in soap are clogging up the Great Lakes. The list is never-ending, and defeating.

But the other day, a Bible verse came to mind. It’s the one where we learn that not one sparrow falls to earth without God noticing. And while the next verse tells us that this is how we know God is especially watching over us, I want to pause for a moment and consider the sparrow part of the equation.

It’s both stressful and comforting to know that as I feel a deep personal ache every time I hear about or see examples of destruction on earth, God feels it too. When birds get sick or die from oil spills, God feels it. And that means I’m not alone.

The pain I feel for God’s creation is just like all my other burdens — I can carry it in prayer to God. And when I do that, I might still worry, but I can trust that I can worry less.

Because I know God cares about every sparrow, every newt, and every plant on the green earth of Creation, I can rest a little easier — I can stop worrying about all of Creation all at once. And I can do what we all should do when faced with the troubles of our world — pray on it, and listen for what God is calling us to do. Because I’m not a field scientist, I can’t be out in the field studying birds and bugs. That’s not my gift. Because I’m not a teacher, it’s ok that I’m not in a classroom right now teaching the next generation of environmental activists.

God gives us each gifts through the Holy Spirit. Some of us are teachers, others preachers, givers, or doers. God doesn’t want you, or me, or anyone else to bear the whole burden of caring for creation. That’s a job for the Creator. God wants each of us to listen for what our gifts are, and how we can play our part in the struggle for reconciliation with the earth we have been given. I am comforted in the knowledge that while I do my best to listen for the ways God wants me to move, God will keep watch on all the sparrows of the world, and will let me know when I should worry and how I should act.

Whatever your “issue” might be — creation care or another critical problem — know that God is watching over the people, the places, and the living creation you are hurting for. God hurts too, and if you listen, God will show you your gifts and guide you to where your worry is supposed to turn into action. That’s what my faith rests on, and it’s what keeps me moving.

Liz Schmitt is Creation Care Campaign Associate at Sojourners.

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