Over the years, the words therefore and nevertheless have laid hold of me. Therefore sought me out and became my first “Word of the Year” while nevertheless was introduced by a friend. It’s funny how peripheral something can be until you stare directly at it; then, once it’s seen, it cannot be unseen. That has been my relationship with these two words. While I used to visually walk right by them, now I all but trip over them at every turn. Though I try, with pen in hand, to tag them as I read, sometimes I have to let one or two slide by (to be captured at another time) so I can focus on the words around them.
There once was a very hungry caterpillar,
Who nibbled and chewed as it crept;
Eating leaf after leaf,
It could find no relief,
But ate everything right and then left.
So big it had grown over time;
That it soon settled down,
Spun itself a soft gown,
And, all dressed, it awaited its prime.
There once was a very cozy caterpillar,
Tucked safely within its cocoon;
Under layers it’d spun,
Till its purpose was done,
Knowing change would be evident soon.
There once was a very beautiful butterfly,
Who emerged from a silken bed;
Once wrapped up and held tight,
It then took off in flight,
As it stretched its wings over its head.
There once was a very hungry child of God,
Who nibbled and chewed on His word;
Eating Proverbs and Psalms,
She would feast without qualms,
As each morsel her emptiness cured.
There once was a very well-fed child of God,
Whose wisdom had grown with each bite;
Now content to slow down,
Draped in grace as a gown,
She awaited God’s promise of flight.
There once was a very cozy child of God,
Tucked safely within arms of grace;
Held secure by God’s love,
Mercy wrapped like a glove,
And transformed her within Love’s embrace.
There now is a very beautiful child of God,
Whose wings take her off to great heights;
Over doubts, over fears,
Through the storms, through the tears,
In her wings of God’s grace, she delights!
Changes Change Everything!
“He has also put eternity in their hearts, but man cannot discover the work God has done from beginning to end.” –Ecclesiastes 3:11
Change. I don’t like it. I wish I could change it. I guess, though, if I could change things that change then I would be advocating change and, right now, I’m not a proponent of change, so I guess I’m stuck with it. I realize that not all changes are bad, in fact many of them are good. But, when you’ve just moved two boys off to college within one week, change isn’t something you want to laud or applaud.
Yesterday was Day One as an “empty nester”. (Though they will, like migrating geese, return again in the spring, our nest will now become a rest stop rather than a lodge for the two of them.) As I swayed between being both happy and sad for their growth, both past and future, I kept thinking about how often change occurs and, in my opinion, interrupts my life. I have learned that I am a creature of habit. I like to get things adjusted, settled, and…immobilized. Yep, that’s me. I’ll choose ink over lead, hardwood over laminate, and concrete over gravel. Once I have finished something, I want to know that it will stay put. If something’s worth doing, do it right the first time…and then laminate it, seal it, form it and fill it! Is that so wrong???
Well, yes…and no. As I thought about how my life is constantly changing, I again clung to one of my favorite verses in the Bible: Malachi 3:6, “For I am the LORD, I do not change.” I love that. I go to it quite often…usually every time something changes. I find comfort in knowing that God never changes. I love knowing that He doesn’t have good days and bad days, that He doesn’t change His address or His access key, that I don’t need to go through a “Do I Have Everything?” list before I arrive. He’s always there; He never changes. Ahhh…the sweetness of changelessness…
But, as I pondered this yesterday, I realized change is actually ordained by God and, without it, our world would be bleak. I thought about how everything God created was designed to change. Everything. Only God is exempt from the process of change. Upon this truth came the realization that only that which is perfect and complete has no need for change; everything else…everyone else…does.
I thought about things that were pleasant changes: the addition of a baby into a family, moving into one’s first home, forming new friendships, learning new skills. All of these are changes we enjoy. Then, there are the pleasant changes that are also necessary: the changing of the seasons, the formation of thunderstorms, the maturation of children. Without such changes, our lives would be void of color and growth. And then, because I was still reluctant to cheer for change, I thought about those changes that were painful: the loss of a loved one, the movement of friends/family to faraway places, battling a life-threatening illness. These aren’t pleasant; these aren’t necessary…are they? The only good thing that I can harvest from such painful experiences is that they all make us that much more eager for Heaven. With the loss of each loved one, we await the day when we will see him or her again. With the moving away of those we love, we long for the day when we will never be apart. And, with the pain that accompanies illness, we dream of the day when there will be no more sickness, no more treatments, no more tears. And that’s when it hit me: changes can make us long for Heaven. In the midst of all our changes, we long for the One who doesn’t change; we long to be in a place where changes are no longer necessary because everything is perfect and complete. We long for Heaven, we long for our home; and we know the address because God has placed eternity upon our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
So changes are simply a means through which God prepares us for eternity. They are a necessary component of our earthly life, but they will become extinct when we arrive in the New Jerusalem! Praise the Lord! And so, I guess I must accept the fact that change is purposeful. After all, without it I wouldn’t be able to know the One who doesn’t change. If my old nature hadn’t been changed so that a new creature could emerge, I’d be on my way to hell…things don’t change there either, by the way, but that’s not the type of permanence I am looking for! In II Corinthians 5:17, we read, “Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, behold all things have become new.” Now there’s a verse that makes me thankful for change!
And so, with an adjusted attitude (dare I say a changed attitude?), I give thanks to God for the changes in my life. I’m sure I will still wrestle with some of them and I will still look upon a few with reluctance, but I will remember (I hope) these two truths:
- The application of change is for our advantage and,
- The abrasion of change is for our anticipation
The application allows us to become more like Christ; the abrasion encourages us to want to be with Christ! For He has written eternity upon our hearts, and one day there won’t be any need for changes because we will all be changed for the last time…in the twinkling of an eye!
Amen and amen. Come quickly Lord Jesus…before my new-found attitude toward change changes!