Forever

Forever. That is an easy term to throw about. I think it is interesting that sometimes when we want to express how much we love something in the present, we declare that we will feel this way about it forever, for all time, from this point on till the end. This can be about a person, or a band, or a place, or a food, or almost anything. “Best friends forever!” “This will be my favorite band forever!” “I will always love Chuck E Cheese FOREVER!” “I will never ever find a better food than French fries*.” Etc. When we love something in a nearly inexpressible way now, it may feel like the only way to describe how much we love this object is to declare our never-ending adoration. In a moment of giddy affection, ever declared something which you later realized was uttered in a wave of emotion and came to prove itself untrue? “I will ALWAYS love Pokemon so much – of course I should get a tattoo of Pikachu!” “I will never miss this band if they come through town, no matter no matter what.” “I will always wake up to watch my team, no matter what the time difference is in Hong Kong.”

Really, though, the promise of forever is a tough thing to use to declare present love. It may be more accurate to just be saying “I love sitting in the front row for this team – this is wonderful”, “Fantastic meal today”, “Great playoff series”, etc, and leave out the bits about forever and always. People are just not so good at the whole ‘forever’ part, or the ‘always’ or the ‘never’. We declare something which truly describes our state of affections in only one fugacious moment of our existence, and our declaration inaccurately presupposes that the conditions and variables (both internal and external) will be static. Even for wonderful, beautiful things like marriage, and parenthood, etc., where the commitment itself is blessed, the variable of our mortality precludes the ability to include ‘forever’ in our promises to always be there, to always do this, etc. We are not consistent in many of our affections, and neither will we be here for much longer, in the grand scheme of things. So, if I were Taiwan ice dessert, and I heard someone telling me how they will love me forever and ever and never ever love another dessert more, I would have a fair right to be skeptical. Your tastes will change, human, I would say. You may still like me, but you will have other desserts come and go as your momentary favorite. And, come ages passing, you will be long departed.

And that is why, in light of the knowledge that we are but a mist, it is so unutterably beautiful to hear God tell us “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (This promise can be found in Gen 28:15, Deut 4:31, Deut 31:6, Deut 31:8, Josh 1:5, 1 Chron 28:20, John 14:18, and Heb 13:5, at least – how incredible is that?!) Always, forever, his love, his affection, his special attention will be lavishly poured out on us. For God, the variables do not change, for he does not change. His love is constant and unceasing and he is eternal. Tomorrow, yesterday, and today he is the same; his fountain is ever-flowing and it is always full with life. Our inconstancy can rest in his never-ceasing love. Even “if we are faithless, he will remain faithful” (2 Tim). We will always be his favorite, his adored, his beloved. He will never tire of us, never forget about us, never remove his loving hand from our lives. He is the only one whom we can ever trust when he says Never, or Forever, or Always, because he is the only one who truly knows what that means, and the only one who can truly fulfill it when he promises it. Come what may… no matter what… always and forever… ideas whose beautiful, true expression is found only in God!

*The French fries one may actually be true…

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