“Two things you need to carry with you all your life: God is, and God loves you. No matter where you are or what you are doing, these two things will always remain true.” This was advice I gave my oldest two weeks ago in some precious one-on-one time. He repeated it back to me today without prompt, and told me he was trying to work to remember it.
I share this to remind us all that there are things that will never change. Over the history of the universe the one constant is God.
The great psalm of the law-giver speaks of God’s never changing nature:
Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God (Psalm 90:1, 2).
God’s nature does not alter. He will always be the everlasting God. He does not tire, he does not weary of our petitions, and he does not get short with us after a frustrating day (see Isaiah 40:28; 1 Timothy 1:17; 2 Timothy 2:13).
God’s mind does not waiver. His word, which was settled in his mind before man existed, stands forever (Psalm 33:11). While our minds may change from day to day, God’s never will (Proverbs 19:21). Because God can declare the end from the beginning, he is never surprised (Isaiah 46:10).
And because of God’s unalterable nature, and unwavering mind, his promises never fail. God’s faithfulness to his people endures forever (Psalm 119:90). Have hope for God cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18); therefore, “He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23).
While we can take great comfort in our never changing God, we ourselves must change.
The Christian life is in many respects about change. I remember Jody Apple saying the Bible’s message can often be reduced to these three statements: “Here is where you are. Here is where you need to be. Move!”
The Christian walk begins with change. Many are the passages which describe a new life or a new creation (see 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 4:22-24; Colossians 3:1-10).
In addition to the immediate change that occurs when one puts on Christ, the Christian is commanded to grow. It is the will of God that each Christian grow, and by that growth each congregation will grow (Ephesians 4:11-16). Peter’s last admonition was an encouragement to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus (2 Peter 3:18).
God expected that we should grow using the word of God to direct us. But it would be foolish indeed to ignore circumstances that might help push us toward this growth.
Are there lessons to learn and benefits to behold in this new reality? I believe there are many. Before all this is over, I pray that we will find as many lessons as possible. Here are a few that you might consider.
May we return to an unhurried life.
Our lives are full. We stuff them full of activities, responsibilities, and distractions. Often, that results in anxious living. We rush from one thing to another. Jesus lived a purposeful but unhurried life. May we see what is truly important and devote ourselves to it (see Luke 10:38-42).
May we maintain a prayerful life.
Have your prayer habits changed over the last week or two? I will admit that mine have. It is natural for uncertainty to cause us to turn to God. But when these troubling days end will our prayer life end as well? Let it not be! Jesus prayed alone and in groups, earnestly and consistently, and occasionally he prayed throughout the night (see Mark 1:35; 6:46; Luke 6:12; John 17). We are told to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). May we continue to be a people devoted to prayer.
May we sustain a shared life.
The church in the first century cared for one another daily, not just on Sunday. While the circumstances surrounding the actions of the early church in Acts 2:42-47 and Acts 4:32 are not parallel to the circumstances of today, the differences may not be as stark now as they were a month ago. As this crisis is driving people to isolate themselves from others, I believe the church is demonstrating true love and compassion for others. I see Christians communicating more now than three weeks ago. Concern for our elderly has increased. Offers to shop, to care for children, to run errands, or to help around the house are flowing on social media.
I pray that we are forever changed in our relationships with one another. When the days come when we fill our lives full, may we fill them with the priorities of God. When the days come when this present danger has passed, may we continue our prayers. And when the days come when we can embrace again, may we take full advantage and never take for granted the blessing.
Many strange days are ahead. The situation changes from day to day. Rest in God’s unchanging grace, and be forever changed by the lessons we learn.