When asked to write a reflection on my favorite Lord’s Day of the Heidelberg Catechism, the first Question and Answer immediately came to mind. This Lord’s Day is a favorite for many and probably the most familiar as well. I write on this Lord’s Day with slight hesitation because I know that this short reflection can not begin to do it justice. It has been a favorite of mine partly for sentimental reasons but even more than that because of the comfort and assurance that it gives. I can vividly remember sitting in the church sanctuary for my grandmother’s funeral while I was yet in grade school, and hearing the minister read this Lord’s Day. He told us how it brought her comfort as she lay on her deathbed. I was so impressed by the words of this Lord’s Day, and in a time of sorrow I was comforted by its words. It was like I was hearing those words for the first time and I finally understood the meaning of them. How comforting those words were to me at that time and how comforting they have been to me always. What assurance I have that I have been purchased by the shed blood of my Lord Jesus Christ, preserved and protected by my heavenly Father, and prepared by the Holy Spirit for eternal life in my heavenly home.
In times of sorrow or struggles, the people of God are granted the blessed assurance that is given in Lord’s Day 1. My only comfort in life and death is “That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ…” I belong! My life on this earth is not up to my own self but I have a Savior, a faithful Savior. No matter what I may be going through, no matter what trials are set before me, I belong to Christ. I am never alone. He guides me, guards me, and protects me. He purchased me, a dreadful sinner, and paid for all my sins. “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Rom. 7:24). I, who am a sinner and deserve nothing more than the terrors of hell, have been delivered from that terrible judgment. The perfect, holy, Son of God was crucified on the cross to pay for all the sins of his people so that we can belong to him. I am his and he is mine. He has also delivered me from all the power of the devil. I am no longer enslaved to my human nature, prone only to sin, but I have been justified and sanctified so that I flee from sin and turn to God. “He delivered me from all the power of the devil, so that he is no longer my lord, I am no longer his slave, and sin hath no more dominion over me” (pg. 47, The Triple Knowledge, Vol 1). Without Christ, there is only death and so there is no life. By his death, I have been forgiven and delivered from that debt and now I belong to him, body and soul, in life and death.
Not only has he purchased me so that I belong to him, but he also preserves me. God so preserves us that not even a hair can fall from our heads that he doesn’t know about. God knows everything, he sees everything, and he is watching over us. We are not alone. We can be assured that no matter what happens, all things are working together in his perfect plan. Difficulties come by his providence. At times we may be tempted to want to question God. It is hard for us to understand when God gives us afflictions. It may be that we have been given a physical infirmity that we must live with, or that we suffer to make ends meet, or that a loved one is taken away from us before they have turned old and gray. Sometimes we ask something of God but he makes us wait or doesn’t give it to us at all. In all things, it is important that we remember to trust in him. He sees our sorrows but he works all things for good. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28). He worketh all things to be subservient to my salvation. God is preserving us and he has a plan for us, a perfect plan.
There are difficult times in life but in all these things, I am assured of eternal life and am made willing and ready to live with him and for him. We have been given much and so it is sometimes easy for us to become too comfortable on this earth. There will come a day when life for God’s people won’t be so comfortable. The time is nearing for Christ to return. There will come a time when God’s people will suffer persecutions. We will be confronted for our faith and sought after to be brought low. What a comfort it is to know that we belong to him and that we have the assurance of eternal life. We have been so blessed in our lives on earth but how much better will be the day when we will live with him. The wicked have no comfort when a loved one passes away. What can they possibly say that could give comfort? They do not have the hope of the resurrection. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:27-29). We live in the hope of that day, where there is no more sin or death. We look forward to that day of eternal life in heaven and we are assured that that day will come.
My comfort lies in the knowledge of these things, the knowledge of the promise of God. Our life on this earth and the trials we endure are only a means to an end, the path to our heavenly destination. When I truly understand the words of Lord’s Day 1, I do not fear death, but I look forward in hope. I belong to him and I am his. What an amazing thing, what a humbling thing, and what a comforting thing. The greatness of my sins and miseries have been made known to me, I have been delivered of them, and now my prayer is that by this knowledge and assurance, I do show evidence of my thankfulness to him in all my life.