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Drones are replanting devastated forests from the sky: How to make real progress when battling sin

Ryan Denison is the Senior Fellow for Theology at Denison Forum, where he contributes writing and research to many of the ministry’s productions.

He is in the final stages of earning his PhD in church history at BH Carroll Theological Institute after having earned his MDiv at Truett Seminary. Ryan has also taught at BH Carroll and Dallas Baptist University.

He and his wife, Candice, live in East Texas and have two children.

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A drone hovers high above a forested area
Adobe Stock

More than eight million acres of land burned up in the blazes that swept across much of the West Coast this year, making it the “most devastating wildfire season on record.” 

Normally, it would take hundreds of people and multiple years to begin the recovery process from that kind of destruction, assuming next year’s seemingly inevitable wildfires wouldn’t simply undo whatever progress had been made. 

Fortunately, it appears there may now be a better way. 

As Rishi Iyengar writes, Seattle-based DroneSeed “uses fleets of drones (also known as swarms) to reforest areas that have burned down, dropping what it calls ‘seed vessels’ into areas where they have the best chance of growing back.” A single fleet can cover up to fifty acres per day, making them roughly six times faster than teams of people. 

While the aerial method of seeding the ground may not be quite as effective as planting more mature trees, the greater proliferation of seeds—combined with the company’s unique combination of fertilizers, nutrients, and pest deterrents in each packet—have had good results so far. 

The hope is that these new methods can effectively supplement existing efforts and lead to real progress rather than simply mitigating some of the damage.

As Christians, we’re called to do much the same in our own lives.

When you “do the very thing you hate”

It’s a strange feeling to be convicted by an article about drones and restoring forests, but, as I read about those efforts, I kept coming back to the idea that my battles with sin often resemble trying to plant trees by hand when there are far more effective options. 

Day by day, it can feel like things are improving, but it’s not long before a new wave of sin simply undoes whatever progress has been made. 

And it seems like I’m not alone in that. 

Even Paul struggled at times to feel like he was making real progress in his battle with sin (Romans 7:15–20). And, I think all of us—if we’re honest with ourselves—experience a similar pattern at times. 

However, as the Apostle goes on to describe, the solution is to recognize that we will never be able to consistently defeat sin in our own strength but rather must learn to rely on the Holy Spirit’s help (Romans 8:9–12).

Working in the Spirit’s power rather than our own allows us to cover far more ground and begin to make genuine progress in our battle against sin. It’s akin to sowing acres instead of planting a single tree. 

Both represent improvement, but only one is enough to make a lasting difference. 

Which will you choose today?

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