Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever!
- Hebrews 13:8
Change. Change occurs in every life – sometimes, change is good, and sometimes, change is horrible. One way or the other, however, life changes.
Reading reports about Hurricane Ian and looking at pictures of the devastation drive home the uncertainty of life. We build our hopes and dreams, and we make plans for our future. Then, in a single day, everything changes. For a while, every life-altering event or catastrophe was immediately termed the “new normal” – a phrase I admit I find somewhat misleading. Normal implies we all can adjust and, once we’ve conformed to the new state of affairs, take control of our lives again. I think probably the wiser perspective would be to acknowledge the tenuous and fragile control we have over our own lives.
Heraclitas, a Greek philosopher who lived in Ephesus about 500 years before Jesus Christ, is credited with the phrase, “The only constant in life is change.” That little fact of life is so pervasive, so universally experienced, that it became a proverb enculturated in commonsense wisdom for millennia.
One of the blessings (or curses, as the case may be) of being a Methodist minister is itinerancy. The phone rings, and the superintendent tells you to get a pen and paper because you’re moving. It’s been a long time since I was an itinerant pastor in the local church, and I think things are somewhat different these days. But the lessons I learned while living in an itinerant system have served me well over the years of my life.
For example, one memorable move was away from the place I most hated leaving to go to a place I definitely did not want to be. I cried the entire drive from the ended appointment to the new church in a new town. Over time, that dreadful appointment turned out to be a place of great blessing.
Once again, I find myself in a season of change. The door is closed on what was with only a vague idea of what might be next. I know that I will read and learn and write and teach, but where and how remain unknown. Still, through a lifetime of changes, one fact has become crystal clear over time: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever!” Like the pull of a lodestone, the call of Christ is the alluring invitation to life if I choose to listen. Honesty compels me to admit I do not always listen. The enticement of self-will and self-rule is a refrain in the back of mind, dancing to the tune of pride and arrogance. The tighter I try to hold to the future, the less likely I am to achieve anything worthy. The more I release to Christ in trust and obedience, the greater the possibilities. Repeatedly, the Spirit of Christ has led me to people and places I didn’t have sufficient imagination to dream. God’s ways are always so much better than our own. So, however obscure the pathway to tomorrow seems to be, I think there is no reason to be anxious or fearful and every reason to look forward with hope and confidence.
The God Who was faithful in the past is faithful now and will be faithful in the future. If there were one thing that I could tell the world, tell the people in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, tell the internationally successful CEOs, the famous faces on social media, and the neighbor with the sick child, it would be that Jesus Christ is faithful and unchanging in a world that can change on a whim. As fluctuating as is the nature of human life, the constant in life is not change. The constant in life is Jesus Christ, and He is more constant, more certain, and greater than any change we ever face. As St. Paul told the philosophers in the Aeropagus, “In Him, we live and move and have our being," (another favorite verse of mine…). Christ is inescapably and immediately present, and we are never so lost that He does not know where we are. From that we can take great consolation, or we can close our eyes and live in a darkness of our own making.
Because Christ Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, we are called by Him to be transformed according to His purposes. That does not change for Christians. If we take consolation and hope in Christ as the immovable rock of our salvation irrespective of everything we can see, then we also must accept that we are called to new life and new personhood if we want to draw upon His wisdom and depend upon His strength and safety. In the verses preceding today’s verse, we read a list of exhortations and admonitions regarding our behavior and treatment of others. To be with Christ, we must be striving to become like Christ in thought, in word, and in deed.
This life we live is often undependable, and we think too highly of ourselves when we believe we can control our future. In fact, I think we sin against our Father when we try to control our future and determine our own way. But when we seek our Father first, when we seek His Kingdom first, He will provide what we need. We really are to be like little children, trusting that Christ draws us into His lap to comfort us and listen to our concerns, even our whining and fussing, and then He provides for us out of His abundance, as we are ready to receive.
In the providence of God, I came across a note while packing in my office. I’d jotted down five things St. John Chrysostom taught his parishioners in the fourth century. To be a disciple, to draw near to Christ and be changed, each should pray and study Scripture, worship, fast, confess, and do good works. In seventeen-hundred years since, no better method has been found for opening the whole of our being to communion with our God. Thus, as I settle into this temporary haven between where I was and where I will be, my prayer is that the Lord will help me find the time and place for these disciplines – for prayer and reading the Bible; for worship in spirit and in truth; for regular fasting to break my attachment to what is seen in order to be satisfied by the infinite reality that cannot be seen; for a wise and trustworthy confessor to catch my excuses and self-deception, and for the opportunity to give and to serve as Christ has served us all.
Want to join me? This day – this life – holds immeasurable promise when it’s lived in Christ and according to His unchanging nature and call. You don’t have to know the future, and you don’t have to be afraid. You only have to pursue the One Who has lovingly and passionately pursued you from the beginning of time.
In Christ –
Rev. Elizabeth Moreau
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