Stewardship of Place
Hope in the Lord and keep his way. He will exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are destroyed, you will see it.
In the late 1800s, an ancestor of mine traded a horse and saddle for 2,100 acres of land in the Texas panhandle. Over time, some of his heirs sold their portions of the inheritance, but my grandmother kept hers. Today, my parents still live on Hay Creek Ranch—the place I spent all but two years of my childhood.
During my youth, I was miffed to miss out on neighborhood parties and friendships because we lived twenty miles outside of town. Now, though, I long for the times when my husband, two sons, and I can visit our homestead. Because the ranch has no cell service or wireless internet, it’s a welcome retreat from daily life.
Growing up on a cattle ranch, I learned the value of tending things slowly and deliberately, over decades. The trees I helped plant now stand much taller than the smelly stock trailers my brother and I cleaned out during sweltering summers. Calves I helped vaccinate and bottle-feed brought money which seeded my college fund.
My parents' stewardship of the place we called “home” has taught me about longsuffering, patience, diligence, faithfulness, and sacrifice. My sons—and hopefully, their sons and daughters—will benefit from unselfish actions my family took across several generations.
In the Old Testament, after they had been conquered and enslaved, God delivered his chosen people and gave them their own fertile land. However, they forgot the lessons of the past and turned away from God. Over time, the land of milk and honey became a wasteland of impotent idols. In the same way, we forget God’s blessings in a moment of fleshly weakness and give space for our idols to crowd out God’s voice and power.
Just as my parents and grandparents tended Hay Creek Ranch in faithfulness, we have a charge from God to steward well our own corners of the earth, both physically and spiritually. Our Heavenly Father means for his blessings—such as the earth, our homes and families, and spiritual gifts—to be enjoyed and passed on, not hoarded or carelessly destroyed. When we take care of these things, we honor him.
In Psalm 37, the Psalmist declares no less than four times that those who seek the Lord and his ways will “inherit the land.” I’m looking forward to one day inheriting my half of 750 acres, seventeen miles southeast of Dumas, Texas. In addition, I’m eagerly anticipating a day when I’ll inherit eternal life, in all its fullness.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER QUESTIONS: What does the term “stewardship of place” mean to you? What blessings do you have which the Lord may want you to take better care of in order to pass them on? How could you begin that process if you haven’t already started it?
PRAYER: Lord, how grateful we are for both spiritual and physical blessings. Forgive us when we fall short of your expectations for us as we steward those gifts. Give us the courage, strength, and stamina to treat them with gratitude and respect. May our children and our children’s children inherit the faith we have been given. Amen.
Stewardship of Creation
The mission of Leave No Trace is to teach “people how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly.” It’s an ethics program based on protection and preservation. Biblical stewardship of the environment respects this high standard, then takes it a step further—adding propagation to the mix. We’re hardwired to create, so when God told us to work the earth and take care of it, he gave us permission to make beauty out of the basic; to turn raw ingredients into art, science, entertainment, and nourishment. How we do this matters greatly, and it starts with responsibility.
Our Stewardship of Creation series at The High Calling explores how daily decisions can leave the world better than we found it. We hope you’ll join us for the conversation.
Image above by woodleywonderworks. Used with Permission. Source via Flickr.