I was on vacation with my family recently and I witnessed the amazing inefficiency of a state park in New York. Sitting on 65,000 acres in Western New York, Allegany State Park has a lot of standing timber that could be cut for building and rich soil in valleys that could be put to work growing crops. All of that land sitting idle, with only a few cabins and camping sites for the odd tourist.
It was beautiful to see that inefficiency. The politicians who set aside a large swath of land did a good thing.
There’s nothing wrong with putting land to work for the benefit of humans. God gave us the right to use the land, but at the same time we were given the responsibility to care for it well (Gen 2:15). Sometimes, however, the purpose of the created order is to point our minds toward the Creator (Psalm 19:1-4).
There is something majestic about a seeing hillsides covered with trees in an unbroken field of green. It reminded me that the world isn’t all about sidewalks and subdivisions.
Parks are a reminder of the principle of Sabbath. Rest. Beauty. Delight. These are the sorts of things that land set aside for recreation or simply for preservation can remind us of.
In the end, our lives are not ultimately measured by our productivity, but by how we delight God.