Signposts: Daily Devotions

Written by Larry Pray

And God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food." And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.
—Genesis 1:29-30

The story of the village was bleak.

The soil had eroded, its vegetation overgrazed. For decades, its young people had no choice but to leave for the cities—perhaps Johannesburg, perhaps Durban. There was no way the village could sustain itself, much less provide for its youth. There were no shops, no clinics, no silos. As part of one of the “homelands” created by the apartheid government, the village and its people were all but abandoned.

It was raining the day we drove down the road and across fields that had no crop. There was a sense about the scene that it had been raining for a long, long time. But we noticed something had changed. We saw a large garden with richly composted soil. Oil drums, covered with clay, had been turned into ovens. To make up for the lack of electricity, tin candle molds had been fashioned, and a preschool was up and running.

How had that happened?

In a room filled with village leaders, a woman told her story. “We had nothing,” she said. “We kept thinking that the future was far away from here. The only future was in the city. Everything we needed had to come from someplace else. There was nothing we could do. Everything was against us.

”But then we read that God said we had everything we needed. We had each other. We had this land. We had seeds. We had what we needed. We just needed to trust what God had created.”

A stunning sense of joy embraced each word she spoke. By grasping and trusting what God had done so long ago, they also grasped the future. Their eyes had been opened and a place of despair had organized around hope. When I read Genesis, I am back in that room, listening as Xhosa is translated into English, and despair is translated into hope.

There are times, when we too are surrounded by despair, when the facts are against us—our economies have collapsed, our diseases take their toll, and our strength is wanting. In such a time it is worth remembering that creation provides all that we need and that we too can organize around hope.

Gracious God, it is tempting to say the “truth of the matter” is that we may not make it. In such moments, remind us that you are with us and that what you have provided is not only sufficient—it is good. Amen.

Copyright © 2008 Larry Pray