Friday, May 14, 2010

change vs. more of the same

Change is the only constant.

This week, I have been thinking a lot about human relationships and also our relationship as humans to God.  I've been consciously pursuing a relationship with God for nine years now although he's been pursuing one with me for much longer.  (In fact, today marks the ninth anniversary from the day I walked forward in a church in Louisville, Kentucky as tears streamed down my mom's face on a Mother's Day that will probably always represent the best gift I ever gave to her.)  Like so many better men before me, that day I "admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps... the most dejected and reluctant convert" ever.

Nine years is a long time to hold onto a relationship.  In fact, other than the members of my family, there is not one person who has been constant in my life throughout all that time.  When I say that God knows me better than anyone, I don't just mean that he has more wisdom than anyone else could ever possibly hope to possess.  I mean also that He has been there through the good times and bad, the low points and high, the struggles, the celebrations, the hopeless nights, and the days that I thought I could take over the world.  God doesn't just know me because he knows everything.  There is nothing about myself, my thoughts, my motives that are not laid bare before Him.  I want to tell him everything there is to know about me because it is only in Him that I find acceptance even in my mixed motivations, my tendencies toward wandering, the cynical walls I build up around my heart for protection against unwelcome interlopers, and my sometimes seemingly unquenchable desire to fill myself with things that will surely end in my destruction.  My pastor said something this weekend that made a great deal of sense to me.  To be known but not loved is rejection.  To be loved and not known is superficiality.  But to be both known and loved, that is the thing.  God loves me like that.

As human beings, we are in a constant state of flux and change.  Everything around us is constantly changing.  Our circumstances, our preferences, our knowledge and ideas.  Our bodies are growing older, our hair and fingernails are growing longer.  Seas are eroding beaches, the earth is constantly spinning and making its way around the sun.  The moon waxes and wanes to mark the change of time.  In fact, change or variance is the only way we can measure time.  Without the alternating days and nights, or the rhythm of seasons, it is hard for me to imagine how life would continue or how we would mark the progress of our lives.

And yet constantly, we tend to live our lives in the constant fear of change.  We hold onto our notions that we are constant, that we never change.  We paint out own mental pictures that we are hunkered down as the world rages around us, rising and falling in an unpredictable rhythm and that if we can just hide ourselves from that oh so changeable world that somehow we can find bliss and protection in the serenity of sameness.  But the truth is there is not such thing.  Like sharks who must swim to live, change is to the human being as essential as breathing.  We evolve, we adapt, and we survive.  Change is our only constant.  It is unavoidable.  It is certain.  It is happening.

In my nine years of learning more about God and myself, I cannot tell you how many times I have felt distant from Him.  As if he had turned His back on me that He was somehow out of reach just beyond my grasp or that He just didn't care.  I have so many times grown bitter and disappointed and wrathful toward God blaming Him for changing and injuring our relationship.  But God doesn't change.  He always was and always will be.  He was in relationship with Himself by means of the mysterious Trinity long before I was ever created.  God is loveHe is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  His affection for me has not waxed and waned.  He did not pull back or hide Himself from me.  It's me who has run from Him, tried to hide when came to find me in the Garden, and allowed our relationship to become less than a priority.  His love has been constant.

Don't get me wrong.  I am not making the argument that change is bad.  After all, the title of this post comes from a meme created by a political adviser during Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign for the White House.  Almost every great movement in history and every political candidate who gets remembered is immortalized for bringing a desperately needed change to society.  As people, we need change.  That's why it is part of our basic natures and why God created us to experience change and growth and struggle.  Even in our salvation, we are changed from dead to alive.  "Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet."  "The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here."  The Bible is full of calls to change.  I feel like I've lived a lifetime of mistakes.  There are days when the only thing I want to do is start something completely new, rewrite the rules to everything I've ever learned, and embrace the change as it comes.  Sometimes change is just what we need.

But let me never put my faith and trust, hope and foundation in the changeable whims of other people.  No matter how important another person may be to me, no one else can determine my identity but the unchangeable, unwavering, unrelenting God.  The one who is called Alpha and Omega, beginning and end, the same from everlasting to everlasting.  For God, for nine years to eternity.

You are my only constant.