“Forest management is the only technique we have to be proactive when faced with disturbances by insects, disease, weather, fire, or other undesirable agents of change. The consequence of inactivity is to become victims when faced with these and other inevitable agents of disturbances. Forests are dynamic and so is sustainable management.” (Stephen R. Shifley, Journal of Forestry, June 2006, quoted in Managing Your Woods)

After two and a half years of living on a 15-acre wooded property, I finally started investigating forest management to help us move toward better stewardship of our land. After the newness of living here started to fade, I realized that sustainable management gave us new ways to enjoy our sanctuary as well as allowed us to know we were properly caring for what God entrusted to us.

Undesirable Agents of Change

In Managing Your Woods, I learned what sustainable forest management looks like. Not only did it help me understand the dynamic – albeit usually quite slow – nature of change in a forest, but it also – though in no way is it in the Christian self-help genre – helped me better understand the dynamic nature of a life of faith.

Progress in our faith life requires us to be proactive. We must diligently work to rid ourselves of “undesirable agents of change” and instead prevent “consequences of inactivity” by pursuing the paths to desirable change.

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24)

Consequences of Inactivity

If we do nothing to cultivate progress, the “consequences of inactivity” will eventually create a victim mentality whenever struggles and trials – the “inevitable agents of disturbances” – consume our lives. In other words, in the absence of the deliberate pursuit of God and the separateness from this world that he desires means choosing a life increasingly overgrown by the invasive species of a Godless culture.

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.” (Colossians 2:6-8)

Sustainable Management

Our faith lives are, hopefully, like a healthy, dynamic forest. This means they’re “vigorously active” and known for being full of energy and effective action. To remain so requires “sustainable management” that cultivates health, life, and longevity as it flourishes in worship of its creator.

Sing for joy, you heavens, for the Lord has done this; shout aloud, you earth beneath. Burst into song, you mountains, you forests and all your trees, for the Lord has redeemed Jacob, he displays his glory in Israel.” (Isaiah 44:23)