By Jessica Brodie
Have you ever been struck by a visual so powerful, so jarring, that it left you not only breathless but powered with a drive so deep within you that you knew it had to come from the Holy Spirit?
I had the opportunity to hear compelling remarks from Heather McTeer Toney, climate justice liaison for the Environmental Defense Fund and senior advisor to Moms Clean Air Force. Toney was a keynote speaker at United Women in Faith’s Assembly 2022, which I attended virtually, and I was blown away by the gathering. Not only was it an inspiring time that brought together sisters in Christ across the nation and world, but it prompted a reinvigoration in my heart to do all I can in the name of Jesus on this earth.
For me, serving Jesus usually means “people projects.” I have a passion for mental health and mental illness, for advocating for the marginalized and unseen, for doing all I can to cultivate racial justice in a world that can be so blinded by hate and so fearful of difference.
But I’m also a huge nature lover. I grew up in what is sometimes referred to as the “concrete jungle” of Miami, which has made me extremely appreciative of untamed creation. I’ve always felt a deep sense of the responsibility God gives us as stewards of this earth. And Toney’s words about the perfect and intimate connection among us, the land and our creator struck a chord in a way I can’t quite put words to.
See, Toney grew up along the Mississippi Delta, yet she was raised in church to embrace the visual imagery of Psalm 23— the shadow of the valley, the green pastures lying beside peaceful, still waters. Yet as Toney put it, the beauty of the Scripture contrasted starkly with the environment around her, which “is not necessarily a pasture you want to go lay down in.”
Look around. Do you see green pastures and peaceful, still waters? Do you see the lushness of the Promised Land? Sometimes I do, yes.
But I also see smokestacks and litter, pollution and urban sprawl. I see a world increasingly sick, a world that needs us to step up and advocate. A world that needs a real steward, someone who loves this place God gave us, not a people who carelessly use it up like it’s worthless.
Being stewards mean sometimes being uncomfortable so nature can win. It might mean paying more money or shelling out more tax dollars or even passing expensive legislation that prioritizes the land over reckless consumption. It means love and proper, respectful care, not just “dominion.”
Toney’s words have stirred me to reach out to my elected representatives and urge them to implement policies that care for creation instead of knocking it down. Will you join me?