The Ministry of Division
George H. Morrison
A little knowledge of geology tells us that this is literally true. Not even the earthquake divides the earth so surely as does the ceaseless flowing of the river. It may be a river of water or that strange river of ice we call a glacier; it may be nothing but a Highland brook, brawling and brattling down the mountainside; yet that tide, flowing through the centuries, will work far more effectually than dynamite in splitting the smooth surface of the earth. That fact was familiar to this poet, and here he employs it in a very beautiful way. For to him the rent and riven earth was a token of the anger of the Highest. And then in the very midst of that hot anger he sees the glimmerings of heavenly mercy, for "Thou splittest the earth with rivers." In Scripture the river is always a blessed thing. It makes glad the city of our God. Everything lives wherever the river comes. It is the symbol of joy and the secret of fertility. All this hints to us in true poetic fashion that God has beautiful purposes to serve in His strange and constant ministry of division.
Now if that ministry is evident in nature, it is also evident in human life. Life is not a vast and endless level-it is cleft just like the surface of the world. The mystics tell us that time is not divided. It is a motionless and everlasting present. But it is not thus that God in His great mercy mediates time to His weak and struggling children. He divides it not that He may conquer; He divides it that we may conquer. He cleaves it as He cleaves the earth with rivers. Time for us is split into day and night with recurring hours of labor and of sleep. It is split into the cycles of the weeks, each week opening with its day of rest. It is split by illnesses and tragic happenings and interruptions of our level days. It is split by the coming of New Year. Then there leaps on us the thought of this fine poet, "Thou cleavest the earth with rivers." All t ...
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