God Got There First! (Psalm 139:9-10)
If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10 even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.—Psalm 139:9-10
Three years ago at age 51, I again hiked to the top of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, this time with my 21-year old son Jeff. The hike is not for the faint of heart. It’s 8.3 miles of steep switchbacks and the last several hundred feet involve a harrowing near-vertical climb up cables. One slip of the hands and you meet Jesus. Nevertheless, my physical conditioning was excellent and I had no trouble tackling the strenuous hike to the foot of the cables. I thought, “Piece of cake: I’ll be home for supper.”
Ever felt alone because of a poor choice? When trouble ensued, did you feel disqualified from God-glorifying ministry? In these verses, the Psalmist continues his series of supposals and affirmations: Suppose I travel as fast as light to the farthest regions and, upon arrival, settle there. Suppose further that I intentionally do this. Even then, I cannot escape your sovereign control and universal authority.
Wow. What a relief to God’s children! Notice two things. First, as Spurgeon points out, even when I’m a fugitive running from my Heavenly Father, I cannot escape his purposes for my life. His work will get done in me. I don’t have to agonize that I’ll miss his secret whisperings or fear that sin will provoke abandonment. No, even my bonehead moves won’t sabotage his working for good. Second, if I’m in Christ, true loneliness is impossible. I can’t achieve it even if I try. No matter where I go, God got there first!
Saints, take heart! Remember the words of Paul in Romans 8: Those God predestines he calls, and those he calls he justifies, and those he justifies he will one day glorify. Or, as one of my old Bible teachers used to say of Jonah, “When you’re in the belly of a fish because you’ve stunk up the room, it’s a mighty fine thing to remember that salvation is of the Lord!” In short, God is calling the shots and is faithfully taking us from justification all the way through to glorification. We will get there—even if our ETA is 3:00 a.m.