Celebrating God’s Character
While reflecting over a chilly spring break, I have to admit that I’ve been listening to some really good music! Kings Kaleidoscope, Ascend the Hill, Citizens and Saints, Phil Wickham, and Hillsong have filled my ears and successfully brought me to tears on several occasions. I don’t know why, but so far, 2018 has been an emotional year in the best kind of way. A specific set of songs that reflect on God’s character have really connected with me recently. No song has affected me quite like Be Thou My Vision by “Ascend the Hill.”
Later I’ll draw out some of the lyrics and show how they relate! (A side goal of this blogpost is that I want you all to think about why you particularly like some of your favorite worship songs. I will only talk about one reason here, but God’s beauty is expounded when he is celebrated in many ways and for many deeds!)
While reading some of the Psalms, I’ve noticed so many cries of the psalmist begging the
people to remember who God is and what he has done for them. Likewise, many of the psalms involve the psalmist calling on God to act again in the perfect character that He has acted before! The latter reason speaks volumes to what God’s people should grow to expect from their Father in heaven. Here are a few examples:
“The counsel of the Lord stands forever,
the plans of his heart to all generations.” – Psalm 33:11
“Your name, O LORD, endures forever,
your renown, O LORD, throughout all ages.
For the LORD will vindicate his people
and have compassion on his servants.” – Psalm 135: 13-14
“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
for his steadfast love endures forever;” – Psalm 136: 1-3
The term for the characteristic of God that these Psalms are calling on is “immutability.”
Immutability, a dope 6-syllable word, describes something that cannot and will not be changed. God is the only truly immutable being that has ever existed. While this may seem like a very basic truth, it has incredible significance for us.
Immutability means that all of God’s promises never lose their meaning and that his goodness truly can extend without failing or faltering even as we age and die. In an ever- changing, yet always painful world, the hope that Jesus offers us is the only thing that won’t be cruelly rescinded. His pierced hands are always extended in an offering of grace! Frederick Faber, a poet whose work we should all check out, wrote a really cool piece that describes the beauty of a God who never changes.
“O Lord! My heart is sick,
Sick of this everlasting change;
And life runs tediously quick
Through its unresting race and varied range:
Change finds no likeness to itself in Thee
And wakes no echo in Thy mute Eternity.”
– Frederick W. Faber
Stop and consider all of the pain and suffering that you’ve experienced in your life. I know this is a hard thing to do, and this may take some legitimate thinking in solitude. I can almost guarantee that all of our sufferings can be traced back to specific changes that occurred when they weren’t expected or desired. A family member who had seemed so solid turned away from the Lord. A significant other may have broken things up when you thought it was going somewhere. Friends may have abandoned you when you thought they had your back. The implication of this for our lives should be clear. There is nothing in this universe other than God that will last and stay true to form. Truly our only assurance can be found in Christ, God’s perfect sacrifice that died to rescue us from the death and change that we’ve brought on ourselves.
Finally, I want to mention one song in particular that has brought me an incredible amount of hope in the past month or so. “Be Thou My Vision”, a song that I’m fairly confident you’ve heard before, has taken on a new meaning in the midst of reading the psalms. Make
sure that you listen to the version Ascend the Hill recorded. It has a 3-minute addition that is very moving. Listen to it here: https://open.spotify.com/track/0G0B7bDw9FftPyOOdoNtvS.
The chorus of the song goes:
“Oh, God, be my everything, be my delight
Be, Jesus, my glory My soul’s satisfied”
Is there anyone on this earth that you actually want to be your everything? When I hear this song I know that my soul cannot be completely pleased even with the most faithful friend or spouse. If any other being were to be my everything, I would be taking on their sin as well as their virtue. I would also be taking on a life that is prone to change, an imperfect substitute for Jesus. Taking on the life of an admired hero, celebrity or even close friend may look good for a season, but it can’t replace the pain of That is not an option for us who want to be made whole and return to life as it was before the pains of change and time and death all rushed in with the fall. If He really is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End (Rev. 22:13), then our lives must take their place in reference to His!
My goal in this blogpost has been to get you to think about the unstoppable change that we find our lives embedded in during this moment of eternity. But I also want you to also turn your attention and heart to the one who doesn’t change. How wonderful is it to truly have a savior “with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change?” (James 1:17)