Change, Surprise, Life, Tragedy, and the Constant that is God’s Faithful Love

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
    How unsearchable his judgments,
    and his paths beyond tracing out!

Romans 11:33

When I go to visit my dad, my routine typically involves getting him up from his chair, having him use the walker to get to his room, serving him a cup of tea – or coffee, catching up on any family news/pictures/etc., and then reading a chapter of whatever book we’re enjoying at the time. Then, if he is feeling up to it, we will either go out on the porch for a half hour or take a short wheelchair ride around the neighborhood.

– visiting my dad

The book we’re currently going through is Pilgrim in Progress. It’s a collection of essays organized into sections titled, Life; Faith; Family; Community; The Bible: Church; Passages; Learning; Story; Adventure; The World; and Travel.

Once in a while (and this is funny), my mother will stop me while I’m reading and say, “This is really good; more people need to hear this; this should be in a book!”

But yesterday she was right, and the selection got my attention too, enough that I want to share it with you this morning.

We live in a moment where uncertainty is all too common, along with its companion, fear. So these words are certainly apropos. Take them to heart, because they are true. – DEREK

All week long I have watched the lives of people I care about being impacted by both tragedy and joy.

Just a couple of days ago one good friend announced – with great delight – that his first grandchild had been born. Only a few hours later another was devastated by the news that his five-year-old granddaughter had died. Both men were members of my small group. That same day the mother one one of our preschool children gave a kidney to her two-year-old. The next afternoon, back in Pensacola, one of Andrew and Naomi’s childhood friends died suddenly. He was 30 years old.

The events that comprise our everyday lives are sometimes overwhelming. But even when tragedy seems to predominate we still refer to our experience as “life.” This is because life is irrepressible, and a larger concept than the mere span of years we experience here on earth.

I like the way Rebekah often phrases the idea during funerals and memorials. “Life as we experience it is not enough to explain life.” And, “We were created for eternity.”

I think it is beautiful that birth so often comes along in the same moment as tragedy and grief. Both experiences are passages, bookends of our span of time here in this particular corner of time and space.

That’s why our anchoring in the firm permanence of God’s unchanging faithfulness is such a critical fixed point in the way we navigate life. People live and die; governments and institutions are absorbed into the passage of time; civilizations rise and crumble; continents drift with the Earth’s crust; stars collide; galaxies disappear into the void…

Yet God exists, not outside but beyond the limitations of time, and space, and imagination, and expectation. I find tremendous comfort and confidence in the knowledge of such definitive stability, in a world that is always just a heartbeat or two away from crisis. The bottom line here is not just that I know where I stand, but that I stand with Jesus, the foundation and the fruition of God’s unswerving Covenant of Love.

Over the next days and weeks there will be births, weddings, moves, and unsettling events. Change is constant. That’s another reason why, in my understanding of how this dance of life works, fixing my anchor in the solid rock of God’s unwavering love feeds my soul. Outside of that fixed point of pure light, there is no navigation that makes any sense.

Derek Maul, Pilgrim in Progress, 42-43


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