I recently heard a song on the radio by the Christian band Sanctus Real. The words of the refrain had this to say regarding God’s identity:
“When did he break his promise? / When did his kindness fail? / Never has, never will. / My God is still the same. / When did he lose his power? / When did his mercy change? / Never has, never will. / My God is still the same.”
The words, “my God is still the same,” echoed in my heart as I meditated on the comfort and assurance of God’s consistency and reliability amid changes that always seemed to appear in my life or in the world around me.
This past month, my parents sold the childhood home I had grown up in after nearly 20 years of residence. Helping them box up old toys from my upbringing and haul them off to Goodwill, and seeing the empty walls with photos taken down and the family room with furniture pieces moved out, I felt more than a little melancholy. I realized how attached I had grown to this physical space. Throughout all of the physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual changes of my life, I had always had this house to come back to. And yet, my true identity did not dwell within these walls. Thinking about my attachments, I realized that it was not any earthly space, destination, achievement or person who I could ultimately claim as my never-changing constant. God was the one and only forever of my life.
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Hebrews 13:8 tells us, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” When so much in our lives and in our world refuses to stay the same, we can be assured of the promise that our God is always the same, always constant, always loyal and always consistent in attentiveness and love for us.
But how do we reconcile a God who does not change with a world that is always changing? Aren’t we supposed to strive to be like God in all things?
As I got to thinking, I realized that the reason God does not change is because he is already perfect. For God to change would mean that he had something worth changing, thus meaning he would not be perfect. But since God does all things to perfection, he has no need to change. His kindness and mercy are solid and forever, as the song spoke of.
For us human persons, on the other hand, no matter how good our intentions, we will never be fully perfect on this side of heaven. While God remains the same in goodness and in truth, we experience setbacks and sins along the way toward holiness. Thus, comes the need for change.
Yet so often, we view changes in our lives as something negative, something to be avoided at all costs. What if, instead, we viewed change as a way to be transformed and drawn closer into the perfection and love of Christ?
The following are my three pieces of advice regarding how to deal with change:
- When something in your life changes, look for ways that this change can lead you toward perfect holiness. Instead of bemoaning change or dreading its arrival, ask the Lord how this change can lead you toward greater piety or closeness to him.
- Recognize the areas in your life where you do not need to change. Sometimes we can stay the same regardless of what is happening around us. For example, you can always stay the same in pursuing truth, forgiving and desiring to understand others, or in compassionately loving those around you.
- Instead of using the word “change” for something new that happens, substitute for the word “growing.” Consider how changes in life can be viewed not as steps back but as steps toward transformation into stronger and wiser women of faith.
The bridge from Sanctus Real’s song comes to mind:
“Not once did he ever stop moving, / Not once did he ever let go, / Not once did he ever stop proving our God is in control.”
I have found in my own life, that when I let go of the changing ways of the world and the ups and downs of my own life, I am better able to surrender to the control of the Father. Surrendering to the changes that come into your life does not have to be seen as a “dying to self” so much as a “dying to seasons” within your life.
Who you are (your person or self) is always rooted in being a beloved child of God; that truth will never change. But I have learned the grace and the humility that comes from dying to seasons of my life — areas of life that are not as perfect as they could be. For example, I learned very quickly within the first few months of marriage how dead-set I was on my own ways, and this season of selfishness needed to be stripped away in order for a new season of selflessness to begin emerging. Perhaps you find yourself in seasons of pride, self-loathing, comparison or sloth that need to “die” in order for new seasons of humility, respect, admiration and discipline to emerge.
Through everything we face, God is still the same while we will continue to change throughout our lives, along with the world around us. Nonetheless, we can view change as an opportunity to hold firm to what is forever: our identity in God and the goodness that is within us, while being eager to be transformed into a clearer image of that same God who is perfect forever.