We live in a staunchly change-oriented society. Despite a much-professed antipathy to change in general, most humans expect and even seek change as a healthy part of the progression of our lives. Honestly, I am not sure how well we would fare if we could not select new fashion trends, enjoy new recording artists, try new cuisine, make new friends, and surf channels on our televisions – not to mention the stupendous inundation of ‘fresh’ stimuli that defines the internet. While claiming to hate change - especially as it relates to the subject of aging, we all acknowledge that change is inescapable. In fact, we have developed entire professional disciplines around “change management.”
Conventional wisdom reminds us that “the only constant is that everything changes.” This axiom has an impressive pedigree, dating back to at least the sixth century BCE, attributed to Heraclitus of Ephesus. He wrote, “πάντα χωρεῖ καὶ οὐδὲν μένει,” which is variously translated but is essentially, “everything changes and nothing stays fixed.” For the record, an alternate (and more popular) rendering of this thought is attributed to none other than that great American philosopher Louis L’Amour: “The only thing that never changes is that everything changes.”
Touting change is also a cherished marketing and business development tool. How delighted are we to see “new and improved” on a given product? OK, not all that delighted because usually nothing inside the product has is actually improved, but still. And although the buzzwords – uh – change, “innovation” is always highly valued. We want to move on to the next great idea, whether it be clothes, cars, buildings, music, movies, books, entertainment, hair styles, and on and on.
Of course, there are those among us who claim that we would like it better if things did not change; or at least not so quickly. I won’t explore in this brief blog entry the political divide these notions represent. That would be WAY off topic.
So, what exactly is my topic?
It is this:
How do we reconcile YHVH’s immutability (that he never changes)
with our ceaseless environment of change?
I mean, we are to LOVE YHVH with all our heart, soul, and strength. It is comforting that He never changes. That means he is reliable, trustworthy, solid, dependable. But how are we supposed to pursue a relationship with him who never changes while we are in a constant state of change? How does that actually work?
Well, the first thing that comes to mind is his instruction in Psalm 46:10 to “Be still…” The action of being still forces us to, as much as possible, move into alignment with the Almighty’s state of being, which is “never changing.” That is kind of like moving from the outer edges of the merry-go-round to the center. You are still going in circles, but the force of the spinning is not as profound.
One of Jonathan Cahn’s meditations in his “Book of Mysteries” illustrates this principle. He showed how we can walk through the day, and at various times the sun is at different points in the sky; sometimes it might be obscured by trees or buildings or mountains or even by our own hand. Relative to us, the sun may seem to be changing, but it is not. It is we who are in motion. (OK, the sun is constantly “changing” in several ways, but stick with me for this illustration, all right?)
It is not that YHVH is distant from us. He is not. But he is so inestimably “Other,” that we sometimes are at a loss as to how we should relate to him. Nevertheless, he is calling us to commune with him. How?
What is TESHUVAH? It means “repent” or “return.” It can be interpreted, to turn around and face / move in the opposite direction. In other words, “change.”
YHVH, the Unchanging One, calls us to CHANGE! But, what is he really calling us to? To himself. To Be Still. To turn and face toward him. He promises to bring to us the ultimate change; to make us a new creation; to put in us a new heart; to give us a new song. What could calm our spirits more than to be in relationship with the One Who Does Not Change?
Ponder this truth: we live in a condition of constant change while the Eternal One is us to himself, to his unchanging perfection and holiness and shalom.
NOTE: Scripture references about YHVH’s immutability:
1 Samuel 15:29
Psalms 33:11; 41:13; 90:2-4
2 Timothy 1:9