Closer to home, and closer in time, I am surrounded by fire-stricken habitats. Once healthy forests and grasslands now look like moonscapes. If is unnervingly eerie.
But in both cases, one other thing was noticeable. Nature hadn’t given up. It was coming back. In both places one could see the beginning of new growth. Grasses first, then flowers, and finally trees re-sprouting.
I grew up near Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks, home of the giant sequoias, trees that can live up to three thousand years. However, Sequoias require fire to reproduce: to clear land for space for the seedlings, to allow sunlight, and to heat up its cones and release the seeds.
And there you have it –– seeds––from which everything springs: both life and ideas.
Twenty years ago today, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, a military and political presence began in Afghanistan. Today it is gone. A “firestorm” surrounded the evacuation of American citizens and Afghan aids from Afghanistan, leaving a lot of concern about what will happen to the people of Afghanistan now that the Taliban has taken over, a concern that is merited based on the group's past history. But one commentator made an interesting remark during the evacuation regarding those left behind (and I paraphrase). The young, he said, have only known life ––a life of freedom and opportunities––under the twenty years of American protection.
So the seeds of freedom and opportunity have been planted––not only in the youth, but also in their fellow, older citizens. Will those seeds be allowed to grow naturally, or will it take the heat of oppression to open them?
I do not know the future of Afghanistan, but I do know the God who knows the number of hairs on my head, the God who cares for the sparrows, and I believe He also knows every individual still living in Afghanistan. I also believe there are––a few––some––many––whom He has left purposefully to do great things for Him and for the country.
Though the U.S military and political presence is no longer in Afghanistan, we, as Christians, don’t have to “leave.” We can stay involved. We can help those who have now been planted here and help them flourish, and we can pray for those God has “allowed” to stay there. May His will be done in both places.