Beauty After a Toxic Past.

The bird in the photograph above is a great crested grebe in its winter plumage. One might think that it was taken in some unspoilt part of the Cairngorms, but it wasn’t. It was in fact taken near Sheffield in what was once a heavily industrialised landscape, not the place you would think of as a destination for wildlife photography. But when the industry closed down along this stretch of the Rother valley it was decided to form a country park. But there was a problem, the ground that the various industrial processes had left behind was toxic. Anybody looking on the industrial dereliction would have looked in disbelief when plans were announced to make it into a country park. Of course, the country park did not come about by leaving things as they were, it required a lot of effort. Presumably, good soil, landscaping, tree-planting, etc., were all required.
There are many people who have a toxic past. The good news is that in Christ when we repent of our sin, our past is dead and buried. That does not necessarily mean that everything will be easy. It is not unusual for new believers to have their ups and downs. Paul in his letters refers to the “renewing of the mind” and like reclaiming an industrial wasteland this does not happen overnight. At first it may appear to be a bigger mess that before it started. When cleaning up toxic land there is always the possibility that hitherto unknown toxins might be discovered during the process that otherwise might have remained hidden. Now suppose that someone argues that because this piece of land has been declared a country park that this toxin should not be there. Saying, “How dare you call this a country park?” This is like saying that a new believer, because of their difficult past, has a relapse of some kind can’t be a Christian. It is easier in the short term to take that approach with those that are high maintenance, rather than persist in helping them along their bumpy ride. It is only in the long-term that such an approach produces fruit.
I visited the Rother Country Park with my brother-in-law for an afternoon walk with the intention to walk round the reservoir there. We lost our way because the trees that had been just saplings the last time he was there 15 years or so ago. By the time we got to the reservoir the sun was getting low. We noticed quite a lot of wildfowl including mallard and Canada geese. It was only after a few minutes of walking along the edge of the lake that he noticed the first grebe. It turned out there were several. The one shown was taken as we began to walk back looking into the setting sun. It was difficult if not impossible to imagine what the land had previously looked. So, it should be likewise with those who come to the Lord with a toxic past whether abuse or addictions or whatever. Showing beauty after a toxic past.
David Rose, 2014.

About davidgrose

I am a Bible believing Christian, brought up in the Brethren Movement, and now find myself associating with charismatics even though I do not always agree with them. I am in full-time employment. I have interests in history and photography amongst others.
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