Meditation – God is eternally trustworthy (The Eternity of God – Pt 7).
by Isaac Overton
Q. What does it mean to say that God is eternal?
A. To say that God eternal means that he transcends time.
Q. How ought we to benefit from the doctrine of God’s eternity?
A. In seven ways: first, by drawing our affections away from that which is temporary, and toward him who is eternal; second, by bringing us to entrust God with our lives; third, by humbling us in light of the majesty of God’s eternity; fourth, by teaching us patience as we wait upon God’s timing; fifth, by giving us the consolation and security of a changeless God in an ever-changing world; sixth, by giving us confidence in the face of death; and seventh, by drawing us into the eternal worship that is due unto him.
Q. How does the eternity of God cause us to entrust him with our lives?
A. By revealing to us that God alone holds our lives in his hands, and that God alone is able to eternally secure our souls.
Security and certainty for the future are very desirable things. I can remember moving out of home at the age of 18, I moved from Tasmania to Sydney to further my studies. It was my first time moving out of home, and in many ways I felt insecure and uncertain. In the first few weeks of my time in Sydney, I sensed that very acutely in my living situation. I had four weeks of accommodation lined up in Sydney for when I arrived, but beyond that I had no concrete plans and no connections except for the tenuous contact of a friend-of-a-friend. My dad also kindly came and stayed with me for my first week as I settled in and began to find my feet.
I have to say, at few points in my life have I experienced anxiety in the way that I did in that first week. The thought of knowing that my time was limited, and that I needed to organise a place to stay for when my accommodation expired was a source of continual concern and anxiety. Of particular concern to me was that I wanted to find a good church to go to and Christians to live with. I’d seen a few older friends head to university, get wrapped up in the wrong crowd, and walk away from Christ. I didn’t want that to happen to me. I met up with the friend-of-a-friend, and the contact turned out to be a fizzler – nothing came of it. As I talked it over with Dad, and shared my anxiety with him, his advice to me was to trust in the Lord and pray about it.
Now this was very much in keeping with what I guess you could call my dad’s chief legacy to me. In my first Bible, dad penned Proverbs 3:5-6 in the cover: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding; in all of your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Trust in the Lord – that was Dad’s advice that day in Sydney. Now trusting in the Lord does not always mean that things will go as we expect or desire, but it was within the week of praying that prayer with my Dad that the Lord provided for me in a special way.
The friend-of-a-friend was an Anglican Pastor, who himself was supposed to be connected to someone who may have had accommodation. The person didn’t have accommodation, but a couple of days later the Pastor called me back and said that his family had a spare room that they’d be willing to let me stay in. The accommodation was ridiculously affordable by Sydney standards, the family was lovely and provided food for me as part of the arrangement, and the Church where I would worship and be nurtured for the year was right across the road. God knew my weakness in that time, and the anxieties of my heart. And, in his grace, he provided for me in a startling way, and it has always remained with me as a reminder of his goodness and provision toward a fearful boy.
At that point in time, I felt very keenly that the clock was ticking and that I needed to arrange new accommodation quickly. At no point did God feel that pressure! (though he remembered that I was but dust, and knew my weakness well). From his sovereign and eternal perspective, he knew what he had in mind for me that year, and he knew exactly when and how he wanted that plan to unfold – and so it did! In Psalm 31, King David was very acutely aware of this reality. David was in far greater straits than I was in Sydney, as he recalled in his prayer:
“Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and my body also. For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away. Because of all my adversaries I have become a reproach… For I hear the whispering of many – terror on every side! - as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life.”
It is not only in the small things of life, such as finding accommodation (Mt 6:25-33), but also far more profoundly in the very depths of the valley of the shadow of death. As David faced this harrowing trial, he would go on to pray:
“But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors! Make your face shine on your servant; save me in your steadfast love!”
Our times are in his hands. Every moment, of every day, of every week, of every year – all of it. Our times are in his hands. We all desire security and certainty, and part of what the doctrine of God’s eternity reveals to us is that – in fact – we do have that security and certainty. Our lives are certainly and surely ordained by God, and we remain in his hand at all times. Nothing takes him by surprise. The difficulty for us, at times, is that we find the strangeness or difficulty of his providences beyond our understanding – and thus we are tempted to doubt and feel insecure where no insecurity actually is.
Consider the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 8:38: “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor ruler, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” And so with Habakkuk, who lived on the verge of utter national catastrophe, we too may say: “We shall not die” (Hab 1:12). He is able to secure our souls and has in fact already done so through the work of Christ. “Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock” (Is 26:4). SDG.