Week of January 11
The Eternal One
"But who made God?" I must have been not more than six-years-old when I asked my mother.
"Nobody made God," she said, "He always was and always will be."
"But before that?" I persisted. "I mean before all the things God did, who made God?"
She shook her head and gave me a long explanation, which didn't make any more sense to me than her first answer. After she walked away, I thought, She doesn't know either.
At age six it seemed impossible for something not to have a beginning. "There had to be a place to start," I mumbled to myself, "even if it was a long, long, long time ago."
In college, one of my scientifically minded friends tried to explain it to me. He threw in a lot of scientific verbiage about the relativity of time, that it was circular and not linear, but I was as confused at age twenty as I had been at six.
Now, decades later, my theology and my Bible tell me God is, was, and always will be. I accept this as the final word.
I've never found a satisfactory solution to understanding the eternity of God and I assume I never will. My friend, Jay Zinn, said, "You know, we're created beings. Everything in our world is created from something else. I had a dad who had a dad who had a dad. I can't understand anything about humans or animals or plants except to look for what they came from. But God is above and beyond creation. And we can't understand something that's beyond the created world we live in."
I agreed with Jay, but it didn't stop me from asking and trying to understand. I still believe in trying to make sense of the mysteries of the universe. Yet I also realize how this works for me in daily, practical living. I want explanations. I want to understand. "God, make it clear" is something I've often prayed. The phrase "I just don't understand" is such a habitual part of my prayer life, it wouldn't seem natural to pray about difficulties without using it.
For instance, as a writer, I pray for God to help me write a book. I write it, and then I pray for God to help me sell it to a publisher. I get turned down. I try a second time and get another rejection. I pray, "God, I just don't understand. You want me to be happy, or fulfilled, or at peace, so why do I go through all this?"
I pray for my friend who is in danger of losing her job and she gets fired. Larry goes on a diet; I pray for God to help him lose forty pounds. After three weeks, he has lost nothing and abandons his weight-loss program. "I don't understand," is my answer.
In hundreds of ways I don't understand what God is doing in my life or in anyone else's. But one day I realized that was precisely the problem: I put the emphasis on understanding.
The day that light crept in, I had just read the words of Brother Lawrence, who contrasted our understanding with the act of our will. Understanding, he said, is of little benefit, but the commitment of our will is of immense value.
Then I got it. I would say it like this. I kept wanting to obey the Eternal One when I understood the divine plan. Instead, God wants me to commit my will even if I don't understand.
I found help in this matter recently when I came across a typed sheet of paper that someone gave me many years ago. I know only that it's called "Others May, You Cannot" by George Watson. Here is part of one paragraph:
…make up your mind that God is an infinite Sovereign and has a right to do as he pleases with his own. He may not explain to you a thousand things which puzzle your reason in his dealings with you, but if you absolutely sell yourself to be his love slave, he will wrap you up in a jealous love and bestow upon you many blessings….
God has no obligation to explain anything to me. It's the matter of the creature tying to usurp the role of Creator to demand such explanations or understandings. I'm willing to let the Eternal One work out all the solutions to the problems of this time and the period beyond human time.
I'm also learning to be grateful that God is here with us now, reminding us who is the Eternal One. I don't have to understand the Eternal One, I need only commit myself.
For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens, who is God, who formed the earth and made it, who established it, who did not create it in vain, who formed it to be inhabited: "I am the LORD, and there is no other…. I, the LORD, speak righteousness, I declare things that are right." ISAIAH 45:18, 19B, NKJV
Eternal and Everlasting God,
I don't understand such terms as eternal and everlasting.
How can I? My world is limited and temporal.
Whether I understand isn't the issue, is it?
Help me commit my will totally to you,
especially when I don't understand
what you're doing with my life
or the lives of others around me. Amen.
For more from Cec, please visit www.cecilmurphey.com.
Cecil Murphey has written more than one hundred books on a variety of topics with an emphasis on Spiritual Growth, Christian Living, Caregiving, and Heaven. He enjoys preaching in churches and speaking and teaching at conferences around the world. To book Cec for your next event, please contact Twila Belk at 563-332-1622.