Recently I met up with a friend who I hadn’t seen for two years. As we chatted, he pointed out that a lot had changed in my life since graduating from my undergraduate degree. How right he was! In 2013, I graduated with a Psychology degree. Since then, I’ve worked with Christian Unions Ireland (CUI), worked in a call centre, started a Master’s degree in counselling (which remains unfinished), and earned a qualification in Early Childhood Studies before beginning work in a preschool. As well as this, I have lived in four different houses, two different counties, ended a four-year relationship, and just recently entered a new relationship after five years. In just six years, a lot has changed. Some changes have been welcome, others have not.
Change is not unique to my life, or this season of my life. It’s the reality of being human. As we walk through life, we change our minds, our jobs, and our goals; our perspectives change… It’s the reality of being human, of being different from God. Numbers 23:19 highlights this difference, “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfil it?”
Throughout the past number of years, God has been pressing something onto my heart: my life is always changing, but God is unchanging. This has become something of a personal mantra, a thought I dwell on almost daily. It’s a thought inspired by the words of St. Augustine of Hippo*, as he describes the unique characteristics of God – “You cannot change, yet You change everything”.
The changes I described at the outset relate mostly to my circumstances. Beneath these changes, I have changed as a person too – the way I think and feel, learning and growing through each transition. I’m glad for change. It feels good to look back and marvel through hindsight at the situations God has brought me through. It’s good to reflect on how God has brought me through changes and transitions, and taught me something new in the process. If I do not change, I become stagnant like unmoving water.
I’m sure that many people would agree that is it good to change – to learn lessons and adapt, to grow and mature as we walk through life. Yet, there is something about change that is unattractive. So often we resist it; so often I resist it. For many years now I have longed for consistency and stability in my life circumstances. Why do I long for this? The answer is simple – change is hard. When changes occur in my life they highlight my fears, weaknesses, inabilities and disappointments. This is especially true when the changes are unexpected. I find this exhausting. Dealing with change can be hard work. I assume that consistency in my life circumstances means that I will be free from worry and concerns, so that I will be able to live in a more carefree way.
This consistency and security I crave is found in God, not in my circumstances: my life is always changing, but God is unchanging…It is a good thing that God does not change. His character is consistent throughout the ages, and with who He says He is.
I can trust God through my life changes, with my worries and concerns, because God does not vary in his character. He is good, and has been good from the very beginning- “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17).
Psalm 110:4 tells us that God does not change his mind, “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, ‘You are a priest forever after the order of Melchidek’”. This is especially important when it comes to the Gospel. God sent His son Jesus to die on the cross to save his children and restore the broken relationship with the human race (John 3:16). God has not, and will not change His mind about His salvation plan.
Daniel 2:20-21 describes how God is the one who brings about change, “Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever; to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes time and seasons, he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding…”. If change is afoot, or I’m going through a transition, I can rest in the reality that God is above, before, and in this changing situation.
Every day I notice changes in my small corner of the world. Sometimes these changes excite me, other times they cause me despair. Either way, God knew from the beginning that the world would be a changing place, yet He would remain the same, “Of old you laid the foundations of the earth and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but You are the same, and your years have no end” (Psalm 102:25-27).
My life is always changing, but God is unchanging. Hebrews 13:8 puts it simply, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever”. The consistency and security I crave is found in Him.