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Ash and Oil: March 13

Hear this, O Job;

stop and consider the wondrous works of God.

Do you know how God lays his command upon them,

and causes the lightning of his cloud to shine?

Do you know the balancings of the clouds,

the wondrous works of the one whose knowledge is perfect…

(Job 37:14-15)

I’m not terribly into science. I’m also not terribly into surfing, or shark-diving, or having itchy skin after I swim. So I’ve been ignoring news about our oceans that’s rather alarming. I can only handle so much alarming news in one day. But I have found room in my alarm-quotient enough to care about this: our oceans are becoming more acidic.

Here’s what’s happening: as humans use more fossil fuels, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases, and much of it is absorbed by the ocean. It eventually dissolves there, making the water more and more acidic.

There are tiny organisms in the ocean called foraminifera. These little guys have shells that acid can gnaw right away. The more acidic the oceans have become, the harder it is for my foraminifera friends to create their shells.

Calcium-shelled species like foraminifera are a vital link in the marine food chain. That food chain travels all the way up to humans. Almost 3 billion people, mostly the poor, depend on fish for a large part of their daily protein. I care about the poor. So, suddenly, I care about acidic oceans.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the alarming news we have to stomach. It’s easy to tune out certain reports, or refuse to engage. I can’t de-acidify the oceans. I can’t rescue the family on my street who is losing their home to foreclosure. I can’t fix our immigration system or solve my friend’s addiction or even get my church to sing the right mix of old hymns and popular praise songs. I can’t do much to set the world right.

Thank God it’s Lent. Thank God that it’s the season of remembering our limits. We are a sinful people. We follow a crucified Christ. We live in an imperfect world. And yet, there is still hope. Somehow, we’re always forgiven. Somehow, Easter always comes.

I’m going to add the foraminifera to my list of things to worry about. And I’m going to try my best to limit how much my personal consumption of fossil fuels are harming its shells. I’m also going to remember, like Job did, that God’s works are wondrous. God is in control. He balanced the ecosystems to begin with. Maybe my knowledge and subsequent action is but one piece of God’s grand plan to rebalance them again.

Pray: God, give us eyes to see even the smallest evidence of sin and brokenness. May we notice, repent, and find a new way before the results become so great that many have to suffer. And as we see more and more brokenness, may we trust that you are a God who provides, who restores, who even now is making all things new. Amen.

Take the next step: You emit carbon dioxide with each flip of the light switch. Are you using renewable energy in your home? Could you switch? Many areas of North America now offer the alternative option of wind or solar power through existing power companies. Call your utility provider to find out if renewable energy is an option for you – and if it’s not, find out why. Or get a free iQuote from solar provider Sungevity here.

[Image: Flickr user Francisco Antunes]

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