Notre-Dame and the Eternality of God

April 15, 2024

{Picture of Notre-Dame taken by Gwen on her trip in 2018}

Five years ago, when I was pregnant with our first baby, my husband and I took advantage of a travel deal and embarked on one final trip together before becoming a family of three. The first of our two destinations was Paris, France. Despite a triple-digit heatwave, aching feet, a bulky belly, and being prohibited from eating unpasteurized cheeses, we had a great time exploring the City of Lights. 

 One of our favorite parts was visiting Notre-Dame de Paris, the famous Gothic cathedral in the heart of the city. I was filled with awe as we craned our necks to look up at the iconic towers, and my eyes misted over as we entered the building and got a glimpse of the gorgeous Rose Windows. We scaled the towers to look out over Paris, rubbing elbows with gargoyles and searching for Quasimodo among the bells. It was an amazing building, and we felt the weight of history on our shoulders as we explored it.

 A year later, as my new baby slept beside me, I watched in stunned dismay as Notre-Dame burned. 

 It surprised me how deeply the cathedral’s destruction upset me. I was almost in tears watching the flames engulf the ancient timbers of the roof, and I gasped audibly when the spire collapsed with that roof into the church below. It felt like something incredibly precious was being lost before my eyes. 

 The cathedral had stood for almost nine hundred years, surviving centuries of weather, war, political upheaval, cultural change, and other assailing forces. And now, much of it was reduced to rubble. 



 As I sat there glued to the television, however, the Lord used my preoccupation with the blaze to whisper a timely reminder to my heart. Notre-Dame, centuries old as she may be, is nothing compared to the permanence, the eternality, and the unchanging, everlasting nature of God. 

 The façade of Notre-Dame is undeniably beautiful, the work of skilled laborers and artisans. But the stones those artisans carved were made by God himself, and he existed long before they did (Genesis 1:1 and 1:9). 

 People have been gathering to worship God in Notre-Dame for hundreds of years. Psalm 90 tells us that a thousand years is “like a day that has just gone by” to the Lord.

 The centuries-old timbers that supported the cathedral’s roof were burned to ash and swept away. “[God’s] kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation” (Daniel 4:3).

 My saddened heart was greatly soothed by these gentle reminders. Man-made buildings may crumble, earthly treasures may be lost, and beloved cultural traditions can fade. Even our lives are “like a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” (James 4:14). It’s not wrong to mourn losses on this side of heaven, but what a joy it is to know that the One of most value can never be taken from us. That no matter what happens here, no matter how great the loss or how dark the hour, we serve a God who is “the Alpha and the Omega… who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8)!

 I look forward to the day that Notre-Dame is rebuilt and I can visit it again. But even more, I look forward to the day when earthly losses are behind us and we see the Everlasting One face to face in a kingdom without an end.

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