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This is My Father's World: Finding Rest in God's Rulership

Updated: Oct 12, 2022

By Jenny Martin

Our students have been singing “This is My Father’s World” in Matins every morning for the past few weeks. It is a poetic and beautiful look at the role between Creator and creation. The song even encapsulates many of the ideas we try to instill in the hearts, minds, and souls of our students at Anthem. Examples include,

And to my listening ears, all nature sings and round me rings the music of the spheres–We encourage attentiveness and attention to detail so our students can have a greater appreciation of their studies. We look for harmony and order in the world.

He shines in all that’s fair–We encourage students to see how God’s handiwork is both beautiful and good.

O let me ne’er forget–We memorize passages of Scripture that weave together the story of God’s redemptive work throughout the Bible, so we will never forget His purpose for our lives

The most important theme from the song, however, is that we find rest only when we acknowledge God’s rulership over creation. The most repeated line in the hymn is the title line, “This is my Father’s world.” Generally, a poem or a song uses repetition to remind the listener of its significance. The first time the hymnist repeats the title line, he follows with “I rest me in the thought.” It is only in acknowledging that creation belongs to God that the hymnist finds rest. Later, the hymnist writes, “Oh let me ne’er forget” that though there are many hardships surrounding him, “God is the ruler yet.”

In Bible class, the sixth graders and I talk about how God sits enthroned over creation on the seventh day in Genesis 2. In The Epic of Eden: A Christian Entry Into the Old Testament, Old Testament scholar Sandra Richter discusses how the words “rest” and “enthronement” sound very similar in the Hebrew language. As the Israelites listened to the creation account, they would hear the word “rest” and associate it with God’s rulership. What follows after the creation account, however, is a reminder of what happens when men and women struggle with wanting to challenge that notion. Adam and Eve want to rule themselves and eat of the fruit, Abraham and Sarah cannot rest in God’s timing for His promises, and the Israelites struggle with idol worship. If there is anything we learn from their examples, it is that man creates chaos when he tries to usurp God’s place on the throne.

A new school year will present the challenge to either rest in God’s rulership or to be consumed with worry. Will my child be able to handle the academics? Will my child make deep and lasting friendships that shape her for the better? Will my child be a blessing to others? Will my child care about her work? When will a certain subject “click” for her? Will her life reflect the values we teach every day? (I’m not the only parent who lays awake at night wondering these questions, right?) The hymnist reminds us that it is God who wrought the “rocks and trees…skies and seas.” How much more will God rule over those made in His own image–including our children?

The hymnist’s response is to find rest in the beauty and goodness of the small things around us. Without noticing the little moments–the lily white, the rustling of the grass, or the birds raising their songs to God every morning–we forget who sits on the throne. So as we enter into a new school year, may we focus more on the small victories our children make and may we remember who rules over their lives and for their good. May we remember who spoke creation into existence, and may we remember that He is still making a new creation in the littles ones in our care.

The Lord is King!–Let the heavens ring.

God reigns–Let the earth be glad!

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