Lesson From Iceland

Author: Don McFarlane
July 21, 2016

I recently flew back from the United Kingdom after visiting my children and grandchildren. My visit to the UK was the return leg of a flight I had managed to get at an incredibly low price last year. There was no such good fortune on my trip back to the US. After trawling the internet for the cheapest flight from London to Washington, I settled for a one-way ticket that was nearly double the cost of my return flight to London.

My one-way ticket took me via Iceland, where I had a 20-hour layover. Iceland is one of the most fascinating countries on the globe. It is ranked number 2 in the world for quality of life by the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development). But it is not the quality of life that I find fascinating in Iceland; it is its physical features.

My first trip to Iceland was in the winter of 2005. Prior to that visit, I spent a few days in Latvia, where mobility was restricted by the volume of snow on the ground. I reckoned that if Latvia was so heavily inundated with snow, Iceland would be several times worse. Arriving in Iceland with Russian hat, ear muffs and thick leather gloves and boots, they were soon discarded for light winter wear, as it was warmer there than it was in the UK. Who would have thought so!

Iceland is known for its many volcanoes (over 200), glaciers and hot springs. Buildings are heated by these hot springs, which are caused by volcanic activity. Those of you who have read Jules Verne’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth” might know that the setting for this book is Iceland, with its many entrances to the ‘center of the earth.’

So, why am I writing about Iceland, apart from the fact that I wanted to tell you about some of its physical features? I was impressed to learn while I was there that all its electricity is produced by renewable energy – water, wind and heat. Iceland points the way forward for a number of countries when it comes to conserving our natural resources, but it also challenges us as Christians to be better stewards of our world. James Watt, US Secretary for the Interior in the 1980s, wrote that the earth was only here to be subdued by human beings and used for profitable purposes on their way to the hereafter. As a Christian, I disagree with him.

The earth may not be in the best condition today, after decades of abuse, but we still have a responsibility as Christian stewards to take care of what is left of it. The earth is our Father’s creation. It is a precious resource that he has entrusted to us (Genesis 1:28). The Christian steward will be careful to manage natural resources in a prudent, and non-wasteful manner. While we may not be able to do much about large corporations that are exploiting the earth’s natural resources, we can make a difference in how we care for our individual parcel of earth and the resources at our disposal, in order to honor the Creator and pass on to our children and grandchildren a world that is fit for them to live in.


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