Down Nature's Paths

 

THE GREATEST RIVER  

WHAT is the greatest river in the world? No, it is not the Amazon or the Father of Waters. There is a stream mightier far than they. Its tributaries are more widespread, its sources more sure, its flow more steady and benign than of any river named on the map. Our daily life depends on it more directly than that of the Egyptians on their sacred stream.

No human being has ever traced all the streamlets of this river system or computed the volume of its flow; yet every one of us daily drinks at its brim, though we. see it not. And no wise man yet has completely explained the miracle of a river that flows in opposition to gravitation.

The river of sap is the greatest river on earth. It staggers human comprehension even to think of the multiplied millions of tons of water laden with plant food that daily rise from the hidden springs of earth, against gravitation, to the tip alike of the inch-high desert flower and the two-hundred-foot sequoia. Every plant has its juice, every fruit its wine--all rills of the great river. Noiselessly, without eddy or freshet, flood or cataract, this river of life rises from the fountains of the great deep. Outdoing the river of Eden which was parted into four heads, this beneficent tide parts into as many heads as there are leaves on earth—and who has counted the grass blades? And it is no meager rill that flows into the stout walled reservoir plants of and regions. So overflowing is the sap that in some trees, like the Carolina poplar which sheds its leaves long before frost, when the leaves fall, great drops of sap follow them; and we think it raining under the tree under a clear sky.

But the greatest marvel of this greatest river is not its volume but its timing. Moving without ceasing around the torrid middle of the globe, in the temperate zones it ebbs and flows. Before autumn comes, it is receding into its unknown springs. But come February in Tennessee; and some warm morning we become aware that the black and gray mass of tree silhouettes on the hillside has turned an elusive yellow and orange and maroon. "The sap is rising," we cry in ecstasy. The divine Timekeeper, whose word is pledged that "cold and heat ....shall not cease," has given His inaudible fiat, and His stream is flowing up.

"Thou visitest the earth, and waterest it: Thou greatly enrichest it with the river of God, which is full of water:... and the little hills rejoice on every side." Psalm 65:9, 12.

While we wait for the new earth, watered visibly by the pure river of water of life from the throne of God, let us praise the Creator for His River of Life now and join the little hills in joy as their twigs dress themselves in shimmering sap-fed colors before they burgeon into the foliage of summer.