For vacation this year, my family took an epic road trip through the Southwest that included this amazing natural wonder. It's hard to overstate the enormity of the canyon. I frequently felt as though my eyes were playing tricks on me because my brain couldn't process the scale of what was in front of me.
On my last day there, I stood looking at the canyon and reflecting on the history of turning this area into a national park. As I looked at the billions of years of history laid out in front of me, it struck me that the very idea of anyone "owning" something like this was comical. It's been at work for so much longer than any one human life (or even all human life) that to think it can be controlled is silly. All we can do is to appreciate it, protect it for the sake of all people, and pass it along to the next generation.
It was in that moment that I found a new appreciation for the Christian concept of stewardship.
Stewardship is a common word in churches, and it often gets used to mean "give money so we can pay the bills." This is not what we are meant to think, however.
Classically, the "steward" was a servant tasked with overseeing the house of a master. The steward didn't own the house or goods, but was responsible for caring for and preserving the house and goods. For Christians, we start from the assumption that "the earth is the Lord's and all that is in it" (Psalm 24:1). Everything we own, even our talents, passions, and opportunities, are all from God. We don't own them, but are tasked with caring for and using them in ways that align with the Master's vision.
It can be easy to be distracted by thinking about what we own, what we want, or what we "deserve." We can be motivated, stressed, or obsessed by these thoughts. But as I looked out at the Grand Canyon, I was aware of how small I am in the great scheme of the world. Compared to the history of God and the earth, the thought of "owning" my home, my salary, and my talents seems just as laughable as owning the Grand Canyon. I've been entrusted these things for a while, but they will pass to others at some point. Will I hoard them temporarily or steward them on behalf of their true owner? Like the Grand Canyon, all I can really do is appreciate it, steward it for the sake of all people, and pass it along to the next generation.
From the Gray,
“In a world where what we want is only what we want until it’s ours.” -Train, “Calling All Angels”