The words of this wonderful hymn were my waking thoughts this morning and I remembered other occasions when these words came to mind, especially the occasion when we stood at the highest point in Berchtesgaden, Southern Germany, the location of the Hitler’s wartime hiding place, das Kehlsteinhaus ( ‘the Eagle’s Nest’). That exquisite land, temporarily hijacked by the Nazi dictator, and familiar to many of us who have seen films about the war, now belongs to a charitable trust. It is available for all to see, and is back where it belongs, God’s gift to all of us.
The beautiful Alpine view from that point extends for as far as the eye can see and I found it impossible to capture it on camera – as we stood there, we were in it, and we were part of it. It is no longer Hitler’s domain. I thought then ‘evil is finite – God is infinite.’ As we read harrowing accounts of wilful destruction in the news day by day, it is hard to believe that evil is finite – it seems to rage on, and we feel powerless to stop it. Then I think of the words,’ Heaven and earth will pass away but my words will never pass away’ (Matthew 24:35). It is difficult for my finite mind to encompass these words. I find it less difficult – and even comforting – to think of the finite nature of Hitler’s evil regime and the evil regimes of others, but more difficult to think of myself, and more significantly of the whole world as we know it, being finite, yet the idea of God’s infinity brings me peace, comfort and joy.
‘Oh Lord my God! when I in awesome wonder
consider all the works thy hand has made,
I see the stars, I hear the mighty thunder
thy power throughout the universe displayed…
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God to thee,
How great thou art…’
[Stuart K. Hine]