I spent last week on holiday in Devon with my younger son and his family. We drove down in rain of Biblical proportions so it was fairly slow going. My daughter-in-law’s family home is on Custom House Quay in Salcombe — it’s wonderful to sit in bed and look out at the boats bobbing on the water — but equally it’s essential to remember to put up the storm boards at the gate and the backdoor, and even the sandbags if the tide is really high.
The night we arrived the water came over the harbour wall and ran in little waves around the pavement, and in even bigger waves up the slip way by the Lifeboat station. We all dashed outside in wellies to paddle, enjoying a sense of the bizarre, but thanking God for the little step that kept the water out of the garden – and making sure our young boys didn’t walk over the harbour wall by mistake!
The following morning the sky was brilliant blue and we enjoyed a long walk round the headland — even sitting for a rest in warm sunshine. Then Storm Ciaran hit! We were relatively sheltered and only had a few chairs blown over, but just a short way up the coast, in South Sands Bay, where our walk had begun and ended, the waves had crashed into the hotel windows, which were broken by the force of the water, and the bar and restaurant were flooded.
It was a sobering thought — the power of nature is so much stronger than anything we can invent. Even the smallest depth of water in a running tide is so powerful it is almost impossible to walk against it— as I once found to my peril. In the book of Genesis, we read how God created the earth and gave us the responsibility for looking after it. I believe that God also gave us natural laws within which we should live and work — the passage of centuries and scientific discoveries have taught us much about how these laws work, and yet we seem to be getting worse at caring for what we have been given. We are not good at accepting responsibility for our own misdemeanours and all too readily look for someone or something else to blame when things go awry. We all have a part to play in controlling climate change — however miniscule that may be — even when we turn off a few extra lights we are helping God to care for the wonderful world He has given us.