” The grass withereth, the flowers fadeth, but the word of our God shall stand forever.”
The inspiration came for me to write about the faithfulness of God: His unchanging promises and constancy upon which we may completely depend. I sat thinking about a platform from which I could launch this topic and there it was: I needed to move to higher ground, just like in the olden days when men tried desperately to fly.
Some of us seek change with a passion; some of us are morbidly afraid of change. The word of God brings to us a reassurance that changes will take place but that the promises and teachings of our Lord will never change.
ABOVE: This is supposed to be San Fernando Hill before quarrying, in the 1890’s. I found it here.
I was born and grew up in San Fernando, South Trinidad. During my earlier years, San Fernando was a town. Today it is a city. The most prominent feature about this city is the San Fernando Hill. It stands in excess of six hundred feet above sea level and the entire city is built around the Hill, as it is commonly called.
The painting above is a really good representation of the Hill, emphasizing the erosion caused by quarrying.
I can still remember when the Hill was mostly covered by greenery and its appearance was not as eroded by quarrying as it is today.
Prior to 1846, the Hill was forested! Later on it was almost completed denuded with stark slopes of exposed gravel, evidence of the wanton removal of material for construction purposes.
The Hill had been given the Amerindian name of Ana Parima or single Hill ( it is sometimes translated as “no water”). At one time it was a site of pilgrimage for a tribe of Indians, the Waraos.
These people canoed across the Gulf of Paria from the Orinoco delta to the Hill; the Hill was considered a sacred place where they could worship their ancient god. They would walk through the town, naked, and then disappear into the forest of the Hill to carry out their worship. On completion they would calmly return to their canoes to make their way back home.
Around 1825 quarrying began at the San Fernando Hill, conducted by a private business owner, Mc Farlane as well as by the San Fernando Borough Council. The Hill is described geologically as a cretaceous outcrop, an extension of the Central Range of our little island.
The stone of the Hill is Argillite aggregate which is a good base for road construction. Historically,the development of the town of San Fernando and the nearby Caroni district depended on the availability of transportation routes by land. This necessitated the construction of roads, the material for which naturally came from the quarrying of the Hill.
The exponential growth experienced during the 1970’s in Trinidad, due to revenue from the Petroleum industry, brought with it an undesirable amount of unrestricted quarrying. The Hill rapidly lost its original dome shape with a flattened top, sometimes described as a “sugar loaf” and of course, its green covering.
During the dry season there was an exacerbation of dust from the quarrying. This posed a health menace. The rainy season calmed the dust but washed large quantities of the gravel onto the streets. In time the Hill was reduced by more than one third its original splendor and height.
This once impressive and unique geographical feature was under threat: if developers continued their pace of work, there would be flat land where the outcrop previously stood.
Thankfully a group of concerned citizens put up a good fight to save this landmark and national treasure. Quarrying became prohibited during the eighties and efforts were made to preserve what was left.
Trees were planted which were quick growing and leguminous – capable of replacing lost nitrogen to the soil. A road was built to the top of the Hill and eventually the top of the Hill was developed into an area which became useful as a tourist attraction with benches, a Hall and picnic sites. A rare orchid has been discovered growing on the Hill!
Within recent times the Hill is used as a venue for wedding receptions, book launches, and parties. The Catholics have an annual Easter procession culminating in the re-enactment of the crucifixion at the top of the Hill. At Christmas time an electric star is lit which may be seen from all directions; similarly at Easter time a cross is lit; during Divali a deya is lit; and a moon and star is lighted up for Eid Ul Fitr. Joggers and cyclists incorporate the road on the Hill as part of their training.
There are some concerns still to be addressed. The original arrangement was that events could be hosted on the Hill as passive recreation. Some of the events hosted, including fetes, have raised the questions of: damage to the grassy areas and plants; interference with seating accommodations; and other issues which may result due to the presence of large crowds of people. The reality of vandalism and robberies cannot be ignored and is a problem on which the authorities are still working.
The main attraction of the San Fernando Hill is its spectacular view. Atop the Hill the apparently calm, blue waters of the Gulf of Paria can be seen; on a really clear day an outline of the Venezuelan mainland is visible to the discerning eye. The Gulf City Complex, the leading shopping mall in the South can be seen as one looks to the south of the Hill.
As your eye follows the line of the roadway, the view encompasses many areas of interest. Bordering the eastern view, the Usine Ste. Madeleine sugar factory, which once bustled with activity, is now a shadow of its former glory. The Solomon Hochoy Highway and the San Fernando Bye Pass appear like the tracks of a racing car game with toy cars cruising along in either direction; and dotting the horizon with glints of silver are the tanks at the Petrotrin Oil Refinery at Pointe-a-Pierre.
This majestic landmark of the south has undergone many changes – some have been undesirable, some have been necessary for development and some have been desirable. Within the last two centuries, the one constant has been change: from the destructive and unregulated removal of aggregate to the attempts to prevent further excavation and to develop the site as a national treasure.
A major geographical feature composed of presumably indestructible material underwent many obvious changes within a lifetime. A structure which one would have expected to remain for generations with historical implications and significance was altered to an extreme extent, providing a sense of the fleeting nature of life.
This image was found here.
The scripture Isaiah 40:8 reminds us that “the grass withereth, the flower fadeth…” Nothing in this life remains permanent. Everything is transient. We are here today but may be called to our Master whenever He is ready for us. Your friend today could become your enemy tomorrow.
The same scripture, Isaiah 40:8, ends by saying that “the word of our God shall stand forever.” This fills us with awe if we take the time to truly assimilate its impact and meaning. People will come and go, nature is always undergoing adaptations and alterations, there is global warming, rising seas, a hole in the ozone layer, new models of all types of cellphones bombard us almost daily, but the word of God remains the same forever. The promises made in the days of Moses, David and Solomon remain the same – God’s love, mercy and grace did not, do not and will not change.
We know about His great love for us; a love so great that He gave His own Son’s life to save us from our transgressions; a love which made us, who were once dead in our sins, alive again through the blood of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2: 4-5). This love is guaranteed.
In the fast-paced world that we live, the life in which devices are designed to become obsolete, the terms guarantee and warranty have become empty. Compare this to the promise given by God that His ways and words are forever – there will be no need to exchange His ways for an alternative.
He created us in His likeness. The first man, Adam, was made with the same love that we are now made. Even though Adam yielded to temptation, bringing sin to all who came after him, God still loves us. In fact such was the extent to which He loved us that he sent His Son as a gift to us so that all who came after him would be saved (Romans 5: 12 -19).
He was moved to anger but His love for us prevented Him from destroying us completely. This was evident also when He instructed Noah to build the ark. The pervasiveness of sin incited God to cleanse the earth of transgressors; again it was only partial destruction – Noah and his family was saved because of their obedience.
Throughout time God has proven to be faithful. We have repeatedly fallen short of His glory but He constantly buffers us from the full brunt of the burden of our iniquities. His laws and His promises, His word, shall endure forever: for all eternity. What was relevant in His Word in the past remains as alive and full of meaning today, as it will be tomorrow.
The principles for living upright lives have not changed. We were and still are required to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves. We are still to do good for orphans and widows. We must still be wary of associating with the things and ways of this world. He is not like the grass or the flowers; He is not like the latest laptop or notebook model; He is constant and enduring; His love and His promises are eternal.
In this life, so hectic and unpredictable,
God has given us the assurance that His Word is infallible.
All worldly things are subject to alteration,
But He has promised that with Him there will be no deviation.
How does it make you feel to know that God’s word is a lifetime, or rather an eternity guarantee? Do you believe that God’s word is indeed unchanging? How has God’s word impacted on your life? Your views will be respected and valued. I look forward to hearing from you? By the way do you like what you saw of San Fernando, Trinidad – I included a link for you to find out more about my city. Leave your comments below and I will be happy to respond.