REFORESTING FAITH by Matthew Sleeth, MD

A friend on Instagram mentioned this book recently and it seemed to speak to many of my core beliefs. We were created to live within our natural surroundings but as a result of societal advancements, we have walled ourselves away from our native home.

REFORESTING FAITH speaks about the importance of trees within the Christian faith. On the first page of Genesis a tree is mentioned. Also in the first Psalm, on the first page of the New Testament as well as the last page of Revelation – and many places along the way. Every major biblical or theological event has a tree marking the spot.

We were given an important responsibility: to care for God’s creation. And we haven’t been doing a very good job at it. This book walks the reader through the Bible, highlighting the significant places where God mentions or includes trees in His teachings and miracles.

Because we were created to be in communion with nature, we are more able to clear our minds and feel more connected with ourselves and others when we’ve spent time breathing in the oxygen the trees so generously supply for us.

Too often we have a short-term mindset. Our 70 years of existence is nothing compared to the 5,000 years of an ancient tree.

Proverbs tells us that a good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children.

Christians are instructed to make this earth look more like heaven.
Plant trees, care for trees, and preserve old forests.

REVIEW:

I enjoyed the way Sleeth highlights the areas where God used trees to tell stories and to mark significant occasions. It will always stand out to me now when I read about a tree in the Bible. My initial response to the book, however, was that Sleeth seemed to ‘dummy down’ his explanations about the bible as well as the environment. Then again, I don’t know who he intended his target audience to be. Perhaps he was being sensitive to people who don’t believe in the Bible but want to live a better life in connection with the environment and its preservation.

Many years ago I read the theory that Christians are so concentrated on the next life that they don’t see the need to care for this ‘temporary home’ – Earth. This shames me as a Christian. We were given a beautiful, magnificent gift from our Creator and we’re trashing it like teenagers throwing a raucous party while their parents are out of town. REFORESTING FAITH reminded me of that theory. Have Christians resisted being actively involved in environmental issues for fear of appearing too pagan? This is at such odds with what God weaved together for our enjoyment.

I was encouraged to recommit to being aware and vigilant of the way that I live and how it elevates or depletes the gift of Creation. It also reinforced my desire to stand barefoot in the grass and walk leisurely through a canopy of trees. Not only do these two activities help calm and center my emotional well-being, but there is a positive and physical reaction as well as I, the created, am connected with my Creator.

TREE PICTURES photographed on trips to:
Big Trees State Park, California
University of California Berkeley
Lake Tahoe, California
Yosemite National Park, California

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