Wednesday, November 10, 2010

times they are a changin

Change is difficult. 
Even when the changes are positive, the very fact of difference is a challenge to cope with. I used to get angry with myself for my apparent weakness and lack of adaptability. I've found, though, that God has created us for stability. Made in the image of Him, who is the same beyond time, we have a glimmer of the unchangeable One in our makeup.

Our family moved this past weekend. There were so many reasons to move on, most practically that we had simply outgrown it. For some reason, the boys continue to get taller and my daughter seems to acquire "stuff" at a rate I doubt the Roman Conquest ever saw. My husband and I are coming into our... thirties... we need our space. We can't live in dorm-sized accommodations like those college kids. It's exhausting! Regardless, we prayed and waited and planned to move for about six months (which seemed like so much longer), and finally, God brought us to the house He had in mind for us.

We love it. It boasts an additional bedroom and a great rec space for the kids so that the adults can stake our claim in a crumb-free zone. (we'll see how long it stays that way) It's a peaceful place, and for the first time in my adult life minus one year, I do not have to share a wall with any neighboring residents. The kids are released to be the free-range chaos they were intended to be without fear of hushing. My husband finally has the office he has long deserved.

Change, though, is hard! As I watched my pasta over cook, I had my husband running to the van to see if he could find the box with our colander in it. I can't find the light switches, and I have this strange sensation that I ought to be wearing flip-flops in the shower. We live in a different part of town, so I'm unfamiliar with the local grocery store or the fastest route to school. I had to switch Walgreens, which just makes me feel like I'm cheating on my old one! Even the kids, as adaptable as they are, are stretching for a full night's sleep with all of the new noises to wake them.

As a child, I relied on predictability for survival. Anyone who has grown up in the throws of violence understands the over-trained ability to read body language and mood shifts in the room. If I knew what was coming, even if it was painful, I could at least prepare. Some of my most terrifying memories from childhood involve being caught off guard in one way or another. I still live most days in a state of hyper-awareness. I sense shifts in atmosphere like a deer with a flickering tail, ever ready to bolt at the first sign of danger. And, of course, it affects my spiritual outlook.

We all inherently associate God with our primary childhood guardians. I had read about the Lord who turned women into pillars of salt for looking over their shoulders and ruined cities and made fish eat people. I paralleled God with an angry, impulsive, vindictive man - but I was comfortable with that. I knew how to deal with His sort. All I had to do to survive was figure out what pleased Him and made Him angry, and then be sure to do the right things so as to stay in His good graces. Problem is, God's standards are impossibly high.

I had also read about a loving, steadfast, and faithful Father. Oddly, I was less comfortable with this image than the former. I couldn't sort out the dichotomy I saw in destruction and protection, and this seeming changeability made God frighteningly unpredictable. Verses about God's unchanging nature made no sense. Was He just predictably unpredictable?

I had failed to grasp the simple fact that God is not a man. God is LOVE. Not as a descriptor, but as an essential to who He is. I came to know the true heart of God, learning to discard the fears of my past and let go of my false assumptions. See, God is not made in the image of man. He is not a reflection of our nature. We are a reflection of HIS. I had to toss aside everything that I thought I understood about how to approach the throne and trust. God is not to be figured out, but to be believed. Somehow, I had to take Him at His word and hear His heart.

I am finding a truly unchangeable Father. He is not only good, He is always good. He is not only loving, He is always loving.

There are so many changeable things in this world. Life is a breath. Nothing is truly predictable. Change, even of the good kind, happens every single day. And Change is hard. But circumstances to do not change who He is. Through pain and loss and fear and heartache and victory and laughter, God is and always will be the pure, sweet Truth.

God is the rock that we can cling to in the chaos. In the tossing waves and shifting sand, He is the same. There is safety in stability in knowing that when the world falls apart around us, we can look into the eyes of a God who regards us with unwavering adoration. Gone are the days of trembling before the doorknob, terrified to reach out because I did not know what I would get. There is so much comfort in knowing that every, single time I approach the throne of Grace, I will meet the same Lord with the same open arms. Every time.

I sit in my chair in my new house and lean upon the One who remains The Same despite the geographic shift. I pray the protection of The Same over my kids in their new rooms. I trust in The Same traveling down new roads of every kind. Thank God, because I don't want to be afraid any more. 

"You laid earths' foundations a long time ago, and handcrafted the very heavens; You'll still be around when they're long gone, threadbare and discarded like an old suit of clothes. You'll throw them away like a worn-out coat, but year after year you're good as new.  Your servant's children will have a good place to live and their children will be at home with you." (Psalm 102:27, The Message)

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." (James 1:17, NIV)

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