By Joe Chesser
I love this time of the year. I love the vibrant flowers of spring and the green grass on the rolling hills. As I was driving down a highway one morning this week and as I was noticing the beauty of God’s creation, the song “This is My Father’s World” came to my mind. The lyrics of this well-known Christian hymn were written by Maltbie D. Babcock, a Presbyterian minister, and published after his death by his wife in 1901. Babcock lived in upstate New York, and took frequent walks to enjoy the scenery around Lake Ontario. He would tell his wife he was “going out to see the Father’s world.” In 1916 Franklin Sheppard, a close friend of Babcock, adapted 3 of the 16 verses of the poem to music.
As I was singing this song to myself and admiring the beauty of the countryside, the first words of the song stood out like never before: “This is my Father’s world, and to my list’tning ears all nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.” For those who have “ears to hear” (Matthew 11.15), all nature around us is singing the praises and glory of our Creator. As Babcock wrote in the 2nd stanza, “the birds their carols raise, the morning light, the lily white declare their Maker’s praise … in the rustling grass I hear him pass, he speaks to me ev’ry-where.” As it says of God in Psalm 50.12, “the world is mine, and all that is in it.” Earlier in that same chapter God said, “Hear, O my people, and I will speak” (Psalm 50.7).
I love the song. I love even more the great privilege of having “list’ning ears.” Many people were driving down the same road as I was that day who I am quite certain didn’t have the privilege of hearing what I heard. I don’t say that in judgment of them, but in thanksgiving to God that I have been taught and am willing to have listening ears.
On this Mother’s Day I am eternally grateful to God for giving me a mother who had listening ears and who taught me to have listening ears. I can still hear my mother singing around the house as she did her chores, and as she sat in worship singing praises to God. She taught me to listen to God however he spoke – through scripture, through teachers, through hardships, and, yes, through nature.
You may not have had the privilege of being taught to develop listening ears. That’s OK, because if you are willing to open your ears to God now, it’s not too late. You can begin by training your ears to hear all nature as it sings of the glory of God. “The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth their speech … there is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the earth.” (Psalm 19.1-4 emphasis mine).
But much more importantly, it is imperative that you open your ears to hear the gospel of Christ. As God said of Jesus in Matthew 15.5, “Listen to him!” Open your ears!
- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org