“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” (Gen 1:1) Such familiar words. Said without fanfare. In the beginning … The concept of the beginning coming out of nothing is almost impossible even to imagine. We know more about the earth, the sky and “to infinity and beyond” than the writers of the Scriptures. They would be gobsmacked by what we understand about the sky, planets, stars, solar systems, black holes, quarks, quasars and other astronomical wonders. However, there is still much we cannot fathom.
Creation is one place we witness God’s extraordinary power and generosity. The variety of flora and fauna causes us to gasp in surprise, wonder, and in awe. I mean, who could have thought of creating a toucan or a kangaroo or even that extraordinary creature, the platypus? Who could design a plant that blooms just once every five to seven years (the smelly corpse flower)? And what about the multiplicity of organisms living in our oceans, all contributing to the delicate balance of this planet’s ecosystem? The world in which we live is awesome!
That is how I felt less than a fortnight ago when I set eyes upon Australia’s most celebrated natural landmark – Uluru. As I listened to guides explain the history of this remarkable giant rock formation, I discovered how little I knew about it. And then, when I learned more about how ancient it is, so ancient it is totally beyond comprehension, I couldn’t help pondering the magnificence of God’s enduring dominion as expressed in this monolith.
I couldn’t help pondering the magnificence of God’s enduring dominion as expressed in this monolith.
Uluru is actually a land-based iceberg (or that is the easiest way to describe it). What we see is just the tip. Geologists tell us that Uluru extends another 6km below the ground! This natural giant rock is older than the Pyramids by millions of years! And the Creator is beyond time. Millions of years are just a blink of an eye for God but for me, whose lifespan is finite, that is beyond my comprehension. It is the same feeling I have as I stand in the shallows of the ocean, feet sinking into the sand, the waters rushing in and out around my ankles. These waters were created by God when he called the universe into being.
This natural giant rock is older than the Pyramids by millions of years! And the Creator is beyond time.
Taking a boat ride on the Katherine Gorge. Walking through the Kakadu National Park, swimming in a rock pool or gliding over a billabong teeming with extraordinary bird life and very large, deceptively sleepy saltwater crocodiles (which still look like they have emerged from the Jurassic era). Watching the sun set and the sky turn a deep red across the western desert, slowly casting remarkable shadows across Uluru and Kata Tjuta. And then breathing in the dark blanket of night, revealing an enormous canvas of stars and planets (and satellites), never sighted in the cityscape. Soaking up the beauty of the western desert. The array of wildflowers. Stick trees with the ability to withstand severe drought and heat. The red sandhills. Hearing some of the stories of the Yankunytjatjara and Pitjantjatjara people, the traditional landowners of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
Photos and memories imprinted in my brain draw me back to the wonder and beauty of deserts, rock pools, and stone country.
All of these sights, mostly untouched by human design, magnificent, and somehow holy, speak of the Creator. Our almighty God loves to create. “And God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”
The descendants of Adam and Eve spent much of their time in the desert – a desert that would have looked different from the Australian desert as its climatic conditions would have been different. But we can still hear the wonder they felt for the earth as we read the Psalms. Psalm 65 certainly captures how I feel as I reflect on my holiday to the Northern Territory, a landscape so different from my inner-city existence. As I write this, a small bulldozer is digging up a part of my very narrow little street, the noise bouncing off the brick walls of the surrounding buildings, not a tree or blade of grass in sight. Photos and memories imprinted in my brain draw me back to the wonder and beauty of deserts, rock pools, and stone country.
“The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy. You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly. The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so you have ordained it. You drench its furrows and level its ridges; you soften it with showers and bless its crops. You crown the year with your bounty, and your carts overflow with abundance. The grasslands of the wilderness overflow; the hills are clothed with gladness. The meadows are covered with flocks, and the valleys are mantled with grain; they shout for joy and sing.” Psalm 65:8-13