When I was younger, my thoughts and comments often included phrase “when I grow up, I am going to be....” The first dream I remember was to be a doctor. Then I thought I’d be a lawyer. When my teenage years arrived, my dream was to fly combat aviation and then settle into the captain’s seat of a commercial airliner. My aspirations moved from dream to dream with a goal and a mission. I wanted to do something significant, something exciting, and something that served people.
The pages of life’s calendar flip quickly. It only seems like a few years ago that I was in elementary school thinking of how old I would be in the year 2000. Now I think of the year 2000 and remember how young I was!
Landmarks fade away. The military fort on the south side of Stuttgart is where I spent some of the happiest years of my childhood. I has since been returned to the Germans and no longer resembles the memories I still hold in my heart. The duplex in which we lived during my fourth grade year in Leavenworth, KS has been razed and new housing now shelters families. Things change.
I no longer think about what I will be when I grow up; most of the doors through which I might once have walked have long been closed. I DO think about WHO I would like to be as I continue to evolve in this world; and I wonder with great joy and anticipation about what Erin might choose to do with her life, and how she will chart her own path of service in this world.
People change, or at least grow older. Generations pass – this weekend I traveled to Grimes County, to the area of my maternal ancestors for the funeral of a first cousin of my mother. As we said farewell to yet one more McDougald relative, I thought of how swiftly the makeup of my family has changed. In the span of five short years we have lost all three of my remaining grandparents, my mother, a great aunt, and at least ten of my parent’s first cousins. No matter how many times I reassure my daughter that she need not worry about death (hers or mine), the reality is someday I will be gone as well.
Reading this, you may be thinking, “Well, this has turned rather gloomy,” but the constant flip of the calendar brings change regardless of how we feel about it. Things change all around us, most of which we have no control over, and we are constantly reminded that life does not stand still. It never has; it never will.
Soon my four year old will be a fourth grader. One day the calendar page will flip, and on that day my husband will be retired. A few years more and we will begin a day waking together under one roof and end it having moved Erin into a dorm room, never to live with us again as a child. Change is not by definition good or bad; it is simply different. But different tends to cause angst, stress, even resentment, because it is different and so our first response if often to receive it as if it is bad. It is the tension of one of God’s greatest gifts – the gift of life. This gift comes with the most amazing: God is ever present and always at work!
God controls the seasons and even the harvest says Genesis 8:22. God manages the wind and the waves, the Psalmist tells us (107:25). Psalm 102:27 proclaims that God never changes! “But you are the same, and your years have no end.” And Hebrews 13:8 promises that, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and forever.”
We find assurance in the fact that God’s love for us will never fade away. In Jeremiah 31 we read, “The LORD appeared to me saying, ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love: with loving kindness I have drawn you to myself.’”
God is always there; God will never leave God’s children (1 Kings 8:57; Hebrews 13:5). God never changes. Never stops loving us. Never abandons us.
Recognizing that life is always changing, that landmarks fade away, that the very possessions we treasure most do not hold the same value to future generations can be stressful; but remembering that we are eternally loved by a God who proclaims, “Behold, I am making all things new” helps us ground ourselves in the awe and mystery ever unfolding around us.
In every situation, the boring and mundane, the happy, the life changing, the disastrous, and the glorious, God is there for us. In everything, God is making something new. If you want to see living, breathing signs of this truth just look at the rapidly growing number of children once again gathered at the steps of our chancel during worship and learning in our Sunday School! God IS making all things new!
Do you trust the God that never changes to bring you through the changes of life?
Peace and grace,