Spiritual Practice

God’s Reclaiming Business

Steve Harper

crumpled art FTR TSP 470797608I was not prepared for the surprise that my three-year-old daughter, Katrina, gave me during bedtime prayers. We had just finished a devotional reading about the Fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Katrina spoke right up and asked, “Daddy, if Adam and Eve messed things up so much, why didn’t God just crumple everything up like a piece of paper and start the world over again?” This question made perfect sense to Katrina. She had done this many times herself while writing or coloring. For every finished picture there were little wads of paper on the floor or in the wastebasket. No big deal. So why, she wondered, wouldn’t God do the same thing when the creation picture had a flaw in it?

When I moved past my surprise and connected with her question, I realized it was the kind of question a three-year-old would ask—and one that any of us could ask, regardless of age. After all, if God is God, why not just start over on the whole project? If the original human beings messed up so badly, why not crumple up the mess and begin again—especially if the all-knowing God could see how many more bad things were going to happen as a result of that first fall? Why not indeed!

devozine Healing TS 124037970The answer I gave Katrina is the same one I give to others—the same one I use for myself: God is love; and because God loved Adam and Eve and all of creation so much, there was only one choice—to reclaim what had been damaged. You never throw away someone or something that has great value. If it’s broken, you fix it. You don’t crumble it up and start over.

We look at ourselves, at others, and at the earth. We see plenty of mistakes—sometimes really big ones! It’s not difficult to imagine a better life in a better world. God surely sees all this and more. But God loves us so much and values each person and each part of creation so much, the only option is to keep working on what’s broken. The biblical word for this is redemption, which literally means “to buy back.” It’s the idea that someone or something has fallen into the wrong hands, and God pays whatever price is necessary to buy it back.

We believe the ultimate proof of this awesome love is seen in Jesus, God’s Son. Jesus came in to the world and offered himself in a way that “buys back” ruined lives in a spoiled creation.

God is in the reclaiming business. For a God of love, it’s the only way.



Read Genesis 1:1–2:25. Imagine yourself in this story as God calls you into relationship with every living thing on the earth. Imagine naming God’s creatures, caring for them, protecting them, being responsible to God for their very life and health.

devozine, Earth in Hands

Now think about our world today. So much of God’s creation has been abused or neglected. Yet God still values every part of creation and will never give up hope in the creative process. How has God’s stubborn love made a difference in your life? As a partner in God’s reclaiming business, what gifts will you offer to help bring healing and new life to the earth?


Steve Harper is the former Dean of the Upper Room Chapel in Nashville, Tennessee.

—from devozine (March/April 1998). Copyright © 1998 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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