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Giants in the Land

You would have laughed to see it—that mound of walruses piled on the Russian coast. Laughter was my first inclination. I wondered when a male walrus would begin an awkward mating dance or heave his bulk at a pesky seagull. I was waiting for the comic soundtrack, the thumping of a tuba, when I began to understand. This was a story of suffering.

The animals were struggling to find a place to rest. Behind them, each surge of water brought a fresh wave of walruses, so they lumbered over the bodies of their fellows to cliffs hundreds of feet above the sea. I held my breath and asked myself how they would get down. I watched them fall. For a few seconds they were weightless. It was almost funny—their huge bodies, so ungainly, all whiskers and tusks and flab. Until they landed. You would have wept to see them die. And when you turned and saw the tears on your children’s faces, what would you have said?

They'll ask how we failed to see that we were crowned with glory and honor, how we failed to understand dominion. Helena Sorensen

I am running out of time; a decision must be made. By accident, in overheard conversations, in news stories and library books, my children are discovering the darkness in the world. They’re catching glimpses of the wide, haunted eyes of children driven from their homes. They’re beginning to learn that people—bearers of the life and image of God—are bought and sold, used and discarded. They’re hearing rumors of genocide and death camps and girls shot in the head for daring to go to school. And what am I to say? Would you sit beside your little boy and tell him that the laws are bad, the governments corrupt, the systems broken? Would you tell him that the world is full of evil men who do not know who they are unless their hands are full of things to break?

“My son, there are giants in the land.”

They’re seeing pictures of little seabirds lying dead in their nests with bellies burst open. Diligent parents flew over the sea in search of food. They scooped bright offerings into their beaks and dropped them into the mouths of their hungry babies. They flew out and returned, flew out and returned, until the fragile chicks could hold no more and they choked on the pretty scraps of plastic I threw away and forgot. What do I tell my daughter when she finds that there is no such place as “away”? Do I tell her that creation groans, that the planet writhes in pain? Do I sit with her and grieve that we are trapped in the “not yet”? Do I tell her we are powerless and only God can fix the problem? That He will come to enact a grand rescue, undoing all the consequences of our choices on some distant golden daybreak?

“My daughter, we are as grasshoppers.”

I have only so much time. One day my children’s children will come to me and ask me why. I can imagine their confusion. “You must have seen the signs,” they’ll say. “How could you believe you had no choice but to dominate or wait?” They’ll ask about my generation and those that came before. They’ll ask how we failed to see that we were crowned with glory and honor, how we failed to understand dominion.

What excuse will I give? Will I tell them we were small and nameless, that we waited for evil to crush us under its boot? Will I look back and see our great numbers? Will I remember how we descended on the earth’s abundance and the incomprehensible gift of humanity and devoured it, unthinking? Will I confess my unbelief when my children’s children reap what I have sown?

My friend, there are giants in the land. And we are as grasshoppers in our own eyes.

Numbers 13:33, Joshua 2:9, Psalm 8

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