by Robert Brow (www.brow.on.ca) Kingston, Ontario, October 2006
Two hundred years ago beavers were killed in large numbers to provide the skins for beaver hats and coats. A beaver is still the mascot of Canada. But now beavers are mainly viewed as a nuisance by cottage owners. They cut down trees on the property to take the leaves to their lodges for the winter’s food supply. Beavers will dam up any running water they can find to flood large areas. They put cottage floors under water and make roads impassable. And when a dam they have made is broken up they will repair it by the morning.
What is the instinct that moves beavers to make their amazing watertight dams from branches that they pull in with their teeth? Apparently they cannot cope with the sound of running water. When they hear a leak in their dams they will repair it immediately. When a dam is wrecked by angry humans the whole colony arrives and works feverishly all night to replace the damaged portion.
What does this have to do with theology? A big change takes place when a person begins to pray in the Spirit. As Paul wrote "Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication" (Ephesians 6:18). Just as beavers are moved to action by the sound of running water, we find ourselves moved to prayer whenever we see human suffering or need. This does not make us heartless, but it frees us to act within the limits of our situation.
In the media we are constantly bombarded with news of people in desperate situations. Most readers manage to turn off and ignore the plight of others. Or the bad news is passed on. "Did you read about this terrible situation?
Like the beaver reaction to the sound of running water, the Spiirit makes us upset by any human suffering. Our reaction is to bring those who are in the terrible situation to God for his intervention. In some cases we can see a way to solve a problem personally. We can support those who are working to meet the need. It may be possible to move the government to deal with the problem..
But whatever happens we do not accept guilt or take responsibility for dealing with all the terrible suffering in our world. In all cases we note what is going wrong and bring it in prayer to God the Creator who knows what he is doing. He has thousands of his servants in easy reach of the situation. He can move them to act as we pray. And we remember that death is not the end of the story (see the piece on CATERPILLAR THEOLOGY).