On the last Sunday before our departure as missionaries in 1987, our church in Southern California invited us to select a song to be sung at our farewell service. Murf and I had grown to love the chorus “Majesty,” by Jack Hayford, and we sang it with extra enthusiasm as a final worship moment with our friends. The next day, we got on a plane and left for France.
The following Sunday, after a week of jetlag, homesickness, language frustration, disorientation, and multiple “What were we thinking?” moments, we attended our first French worship service in Massy, a southern suburb of Paris. We were desperate for something – anything – that was familiar to us.
That need was met unexpectedly when the church pianist started playing a familiar melody, and our French brothers and sisters began singing “Majesté, a lui la majesté,” the French version of the worship chorus that we had sung just a week earlier. I looked around in stunned gratitude, glad to serve a God who would do something like that for us, and belted out the song (in English) with gusto.
I remember that moment as a wink from God. I sensed Him reassuring us: “Yes, much has changed – the language, the traditions, the food, the culture. But I haven’t changed. I was majestic in California, I am majestic in France, and I will be majestic in Cameroon. There will not be much stability in this crazy life – but I will never change. You can count on that.” It was exactly what I needed to hear.
We recently had reason to count on His unchangeableness, and it mattered – a lot. During a routine follow-up appointment a couple of weeks ago related to my battle with male breast cancer, my oncologist discovered a swollen lymph node under my right arm. He wasn’t overly concerned, but he recommended a sonogram. Fortunately there had been a cancellation at the breast center, and we were able to make an appointment for the following day.
“Swollen lymph node” is a phrase that no cancer survivor is happy to hear, and those 24 hours seemed much longer as we wondered about the news we would receive. But underneath the anxiety was a certainty that, whatever came of the test, the same God who had walked us through the last crisis would walk us through the next one. The peace that we sensed a year ago would be readily available to us again – even if the results were not as encouraging this time around. My body might be changing, but my God is not. It was so good to know that.
Still, we were glad when the radiologist (whose biopsy last year had started the whole cancer journey) came into the room with the results and a smile, explaining that this was nothing new and nothing to be concerned about. I can’t recall ever being so glad to learn that I have “fatty tissue.”
I was also glad to learn, yet again, that the peace of God is not a casualty of bad news or a victim of changing circumstances. Its roots descend to the bedrock of the unchanging nature of God, which is why it is not easily shaken. I hope you are able to nod along with that sentence.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). There’s nothing very complicated about that verse. The words are remarkably simple.
But what a difference they make!
If you would like to subscribe and receive future Sabbath Thoughts posts as an e-mail, please click on “Follow” in the lower right corner of your browser window.