At a Ross for Words
“There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard; yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world” (Ps. 19:3, 4)1
The world should always look like this—this hour before the daily wind sweeps in and wavelets form, before the mirror of the river no longer arcs the pageant of the sky. Here in the amber light of early morning, shadows hold no threat: we know they’ll soon be gone.
Caught in a moment they didn’t create, ducks cease their fussing in the reeds, as though the peace of God was flowing in the water of the Ross.2 A bit of goldenness wraps even casual joggers on the path, and, unsolicited, they murmur “G’day” to each other—and mean it for a blessing. The cup of human life that will be drained 12 hours from now for now seems full and sweet. Hope rises: hearts worship, for “the heavens are telling the glory of God” (verse 1).
The child on the path ahead of me is master of all he sees, and every turn of his tricycle wheel propels him further into his kingdom. At 3 this towheaded boy astride his tiny chariot surveys it all—sees all of it—and knows beyond a doubt that it is meant for him.
“Look, Daddy,” he says to the slight-built man who follows steps behind. The boy’s eyes widen as he takes in the glistening river, the brimming sky, the herons poised to fish. “Look, Daddy—see my water! See my water!”
It is, of course, a foolish claim, for who but a child would dare assert the ownership of earth, sky, or water? A short tutorial, adapted for a 3-year-old, could alert him to the fact that all the dry ground of the riverbank is publicly owned; the river water is already spoken for in a hundred irrigation projects; and even the sky is crossed by vapor trails belonging to the jets that ply the nearby airport.
Still he persists, eyes wide as though to drink in all the liquid beauty of the hour: “Look, Daddy—see my water!” His confidence in ownership is unshakable. The sky is his, all rosy-blue with morning. The earth is his, all dewy in the mist. The river that so fascinates this 3-year-old belongs unquestionably to him: it could not be another way.
And as I leave the sanctuary of this child’s imagination, I am more sure with every step that he is right—that the claim he makes audaciously has merit, heft, and truth. Sure of his father, he is certain of all things, and dares to name all that is his. In worship and in wonder we too become the children we were meant to be, convinced that we possess all things because we are the Lord’s.
“For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all things belong to you, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God” (1 Cor. 3:21-23).
This isn’t simply rhetoric, a writer’s trick to make us feel less threatened and less vulnerable. Paul’s grand assertion rings with the same benevolence that once placed humans in a garden and gave them “dominion” over the earth, that still regards them as “a little lower than the angels.” The dignity of being made by God—made for God—and given all things in Christ should make us fearless worshippers, for we are heirs to sacred ground. Certain of our Father, knowing we are His handiwork, we recall that everything that now assails our life will someday end in laughter. Our faith in Christ thus gives us nerve in all those hours when the winds howl, and the light is not golden, and there’s little beauty to be found. “He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Col. 1:17).
“Out of the mouths of babes and infants, you have founded a bulwark because of your foes, to silence the enemy and the avenger” (Ps. 8:2).
- All texts in this article are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. Used by permission.
- The Ross River, pictured above, drains the highlands of northern Queensland and meets the sea at Townsville, where the author recently spent a week at the Northern Australian Conference camp meeting.