Every Effort Counts! (Third Place)
SWEAT DRIPPED from my forehead as I bent over for the fifty-zillionth time that day. Maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but my back was burning. I couldn't wait for a cool, refreshing shower. Actually, glancing over at the lake filled with fourth graders trying to dunk their counselor, I thought that a dip in the lake might be even nicer. I didn't want to think about that for too long; I still had lots to do before 4:30 p.m. I needed to focus on the job at hand. I bent over and picked up another Starburst wrapper.
That was my fourth summer working at Phantom Ranch Bible Camp, but it was the first time I'd ever been assigned to be on housekeeping. Plus, I was on housekeeping all by myself that week. I had a list of daily tasks; one of the tasks was "grounds." It sounded simple enough. I just had to walk around the camp and pick up any garbage that I might happen to see on the ground. Well, my "simple job" ended up taking a few back-breaking hours. I figured, "Hey, whoever was on housekeeping last week probably just didn't do a very good job. Now that I've picked up everything, tomorrow will be a lot easier." I was wrong. There might have been a little bit less garbage, but I was still shocked at how much there was the next day. There were candy wrappers, pop cans, and bits of paper everywhere.
I suppose many people wouldn't have even noticed the filth. They would've just walked right by without seeing or caring. Well, now it was my job to notice, and I couldn't believe how much there was. I found all sorts of things lying around. The worst was the Styrofoam cups that the kids would break into itty-bitty pieces and leave all over the ground. I found pieces everywhere.
Throughout that week and my two other weeks working on housekeeping, I realized the importance of caring for the environment in small ways. I realized how the tiny pieces of garbage that I might accidentally drop on the ground quickly add up. When I went back to counseling, I tried to stress to my campers the importance of taking responsibility for their own garbage and taking care of the camp as well as the rest of God's world. I tried to teach them that picking up their own garbage would take them 10 seconds, but if they left it for someone else, it ended up being a huge, miserable job. In the same way, individuals making daily efforts to care for the environment now will save us from many huge environmental problems in the future.
I also tried to show my campers that I wasn't just a crabby counselor who was sick and tired of picking up after others. I tried to show them that I wasn't the only one who wanted them to care for the world. I tried to show them that God was the one who really wanted them to care for the environment. God created the earth and all the animals, birds, and fish on the earth. After each thing that he created, he said that his creation was "good." When he finished creating everything, our perfect God called his awesome creation "very good."
God's finishing touch to his creation was making humans on the sixth day. God made men and women in his own image to "rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground" (Genesis 1:26). In fact, God commanded humans to "fill the earth and subdue it" (Genesis 1:28). God told us, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food" (Genesis 1: 29). Clearly, God made the earth to fulfill the needs of humans. God told men and women to use his creation and to rule over it. He also wanted man and woman to enjoy nature and the wonders of God's creation.
Ruling over something involves a lot of responsibility. When I counsel, I'm in charge of my campers. I can have a lot of fun with them, but I also have an incredible duty. I need to act as their parent for the week. I need to take care of them by making sure they stay healthy, obey the rules, and have a ton of fun. In the same way, God put us in charge of the earth. We can enjoy it and use it, but we also have the responsibility of caring for it. God wants men and women to rule over the earth both wisely and carefully.
Clearly, men and women should take care of God's "good" creation. This can be done in simple ways. First of all, realize that the world is a treasure. Get outside and take a look at how amazing the world really is. Enjoy the beauty of nature. Actually look at a tree, and you'll be amazed at its beauty. Enjoy the sky when it's bright blue and filled with pillowy clouds. If it's raining, go jump in a puddle. Once you've realized the beauty of God's creation, you can read about it in the beginning of Genesis. Then think of small things that you can do or ways that you can change to take care of the environment. My camp experience has taught me to find a trash can for my own garbage and to pick up other people's litter when I see it. Other easy things that we can do are recycling and purchasing products made from recycled materials. We can avoid products that have a lot of nonrecyclable packaging materials. We can also buy products that will last longer or things that can be reused rather than thrown out. For example, as a college student, I try to use real dishes that I can wash and use again instead of plastic or paper products that fill up our land-fills. Also, instead of throwing things away, we can find other uses for them. Clothes and household items can be sold at garage sales or donated to charities. Other items, such as egg cartons and bottle tops, can be used for crafts. Another thing that we can do is walking, riding a bike, or taking public transportation rather than driving everywhere. Besides these daily changes, you could also spend a Saturday volunteering to plant a tree or to clean up a neighborhood or park. Get a group of friends to volunteer with you, and you can have a blast. These small things are all things that I have done and that anyone could do to show that they care for God's world. Small efforts such as these can make huge differences.