Sunday, April 10, 2016

A visit to Tifft

If you think stinky, smelly, hazardous wasteland when you think "landfill" you aren't think about Tifft Nature Preserve. To visit the 264 acres of natural beauty you'd never know that just forty years ago it was a Buffalo dumpsite containing over two million cubic feet of trash. 
Back in the day of glass bottles and the neighborhood milkman, Tifft was a busy dairy farm. When the roaring twenties gave way to the threadbare thirties the farm was transformed into a shipment center. to meet the demands of a war. With the changing industrial landscape of America the farm was forced to change, too and in the 1950s that change took a rank turn towards trash.
Gone were the days of cows. Milk became a distant memory. Shipments ceased to buzz to and from the lakeside land. What took its place was the garbage of 500,000 city residents. It was a depressing and malodorous site to behold. 
But in the midst of decomposing trash a vision of blooming flowers, frolicking woodland creatures and fresh flowing waters was born. Together the community gathered resources and rallied support. They went to town halls and convinced law makers. The plans were made and the gigantic feat was undertaken. The waste was enclosed in clay, covered with soil and excavated. Ponds and streams were enlarged. Trails were constructed and new trees were planted.
Slowly but surely, God's design for nature, its resilience and restoration, took shape on the once barren wasteland. Buds formed and green leaves grew vibrant and healthy. Animals returned to the land to build their homes. Visitors from all over the city began exploring the miles of wooded trails and sharing lunches under the protection of shady picnic grounds. Renewal swept the trash heap and new life was born.
On every acre of the green, lush land of Tifft Natural Preserve is a story of God's redemption and His power to restore. He specializes in turning trash into treasure and destruction into a masterpiece. 
The story of Tifft and what God did on the garbage-laden land is the story of what He has done in my heart. He took the trash of my sin and turned it into a beautiful treasure for His glory. Like the city of Buffalo had corrupted the natural beauty of the land I had loaded up my life with all of the wrong things. I had created a toxic wasteland by decisions that were anything but sweet and fragrant. I choose selfishness over generosity, contempt over grace and my way over God's ways. By ignoring God's design for my life I built up a landfill that I could never clean out on my own. 
But God looked at me and saw something worth saving and restoring. God had a vision for my life even when I was covered in sin and smelled of pure shame. God saw a vision for my redemption and salvation so He sent Jesus in to do the clean up work. 
As I look back on the demolition process God has been doing in my life, the clearing away of the trash of my past, the replanting of His good fruits, I am in awe of the work He is undertaking. It is a process that is slow and steady. The mess God took on was bigger than the Tifft landfill but the masterpiece He is working on will be more glorious than the natural preserve on the shores of Buffalo. 
God wants to do a work on you, too. Will you give Him the permit to your life and let Him take back the land? Will you allow Him to clear away the trash, dig in the soil and give you new life? He'll get to work right away on the most amazing work of transformation your eyes will ever behold and your heart will ever experience. He will take your trash and exchange it for the priceless treasure of new, eternal, abundant, beautiful life. 

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