Whole lot of groaning…

Though it has calmed, I am still less than thrilled with my lingering poison ivy.

I’m not sure what made me think of using “allcreationgroans” as my hash tag in my first-ever Twitter tweet. Unless you count “Just joined but haven’t a clue what to do!” (to which I got no responses, thank you very much, Twitter family), my first tweet was “Mosquito heaven = human hell… why can’t we all just get along?#allcreationgroans.” It was in response to the literal mosquito heaven/human hell crouching in wait outside every door and window of my house, the only reminders of Tropical Storm Debby I see. Thanks to summer’s heat and a virtual (yet humid) drought since her departure, already my trees and bushes–then deluged with 15 inches of rain–have been reduced to miming, “Water, water…” as they prostrate themselves toward the ground with their drooping branches.

I had considered tweeting, “I’m not sure which is harder on the body–gravity or old age#allcreationgroans,” to whine about my aching back and appearing wrinkles. Or “Whoever said ‘less is more’ wasn’t thinking bathing suit and flattering#allcreationwillgroanifIwearthis,”  but I figured my personal lament over cellulite and bathing suits could remain private (until now). And I could definitely have used “allcreationgroans” as a hash tag when I mentioned my bout of poison ivy in my Facebook status. (Or when I mentioned the news and politicians in a recent post.)

Romans 8 contains one of my favorite verses ever–verse 28, which says, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” But to get there, you have to wade through a lot of reminders that things on this Earth aren’t so great just yet.

“Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us” (Romans 8:20-23, NLT).

The short story? When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden and were cursed, all of creation suffered the curse with them–now sullied and stained, at odds with each other. In other words, if Adam and Eve hadn’t sinned, we would never experience droughts and floods, mosquitoes would suck something other than blood and share something other than disease, poison ivy would be just ivy, and we would never have to repel bugs, weed, ache, or lose weight (or, for that matter, wear bathing suits).

The really short story? In my tweet, I concisely answered my own question–why can’t we all (meaning mosquitoes and humans) just get along?–with “all creation groans.” We are not living on the planet as God originally intended it. All of us feel it to some degree.

But the best story is that this isn’t the end of the story. This Earth–as incredible as it seems, despite its fallen creation–isn’t our last hope. It isn’t even our last home. When I was a teen, I was all about Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and reviving what was then a memory of Earth Day celebrations. I sought to be an environmental engineer with the goal of saving marine life from the negative impact of nuclear power plants. I would have been a tree hugger and a fish hugger. But God led me, instead, into journalism and communications and, later, teaching.

And I am so glad. Not that working to save the Earth isn’t a good and noble cause, but it’s about as fruitless as cleaning my house while I live with my husband and children. I still do it, just as we do routine home repairs in an attempt to keep our home nice. But the house so quickly gets dirty or something else breaks that we often wonder why we bother. This Earth is no different. Don’t get me wrong. I still get excited when I am walking the beach and see evidence that a sea turtle has made its way to shore and laid its yearly eggs. My heart thrills when I see a dolphin leap in the surf. I get angry when I see trash littered along the roadway or see other disrespect for this planet God has so lavishly given us. I’m a firm believer in treating this body, this house, this car, this planet like the one we want to have in the future.

But as important as it is to care for what we have here, I know all of it–our physical bodies, our material belongings, our planet itself–is aging and slowly heading toward an eventual demise. Romans 8:20-21 tells us, “But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.” As God’s children, you and I have a promise of a glorious future free from death and decay (and mosquitoes, poison ivy, and the like).

And while we wait (still hoping), we can groan. (Hey! It’s biblical!)


(In case you tweet, I am Sara Dagen @SaraDagen, reminding me of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, which I only got to watch when I spent the night at my best friend Cindy Scott’s house on Friday nights in the ’70s; somehow, I don’t think we understood what it was all about.)

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