Han Solo and Chewbacca costumes from the Star Wars Exhibit at Exploration Place, Wichita, KS

Wardrobe malfunctions don’t impress God

How do you demonstrate that you’ve changed? How do you show that you’ve become a different person? It’s difficult to do in some cases because so many times a heart change isn’t visible from the outside. If your heart changes–well, you still look the same. That’s what’s difficult about change; most of the time you have to take people’s word that they have.

Like an apology. How do you know it’s sincere? It’s not like you can judge by how many tears somebody cries or how much their voice wavers when they speak because every person is different. Well, until someone’s actions prove their words are sincere, you can’t really tell if an apology was real. Until you get to see how someone has changed, you won’t really know that the change was real, no matter if they claim it was or not. Granted, I believe we’re supposed to give people the benefit of the doubt.

But God knows what’s real and what isn’t.

Han Solo and Chewbacca costumes from the Star Wars Exhibit at Exploration Place, Wichita, KS

Han Solo and Chewbacca costumes from the Star Wars Exhibit at Exploration Place, Wichita, KS

Today’s verse is Joel 2:12-13.

That is why the Lord says,
    “Turn to me now, while there is time.
Give me your hearts.
    Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning.
Don’t tear your clothing in your grief,
    but tear your hearts instead.”
Return to the Lord your God,
    for he is merciful and compassionate,
slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
    He is eager to relent and not punish.

In the culture of the Old Testament, it was common to tear your own clothing when you were mourning. It was a symbol of intense grief. So if you’re ever reading the Bible and someone in the Old Testament starts tearing their clothes, they’re not having a wardrobe malfunction. They’re demonstrating repentance. They’re showing how sorry they are for something or how upset they are about something.

Well, I’m sure it started out as a way for a very passionate culture to show their hearts to other people, but as time passed, it became a symbol like any other symbol. It developed its own meaning in the culture, and all you’d have to do is tear your clothes and everyone would think that you were sorry for what you’ve done–whether you really were or not.

Kind of like our own culture. Do something wrong, and call a press conference to offer a tearful apology. Do something wrong, and agree to go on a famous talk show and tell your side of the story. Do something wrong and write a book about it. And most of the time, our culture buys it. Why? Well, they stood up and said they were sorry. And we want to give people the benefit of the doubt, and that’s good.

But it’s not about telling the culture that you’re sorry. The point of apologizing for something you did wrong isn’t to show the world that you made a mistake. I mean, that’s an important part of it. To tell the truth. But that’s not the main point. The main point of apologizing for your actions when you have done wrong is to tell God. It’s to come before Almighty God and admit to Him that what you did was wrong and that you repent, that you are sorry, that you won’t do it again, and that you need His help.

And God knows if you’re just tearing your clothes.

He can see our hearts. He knows our motivation. He knows. So trying to put on a show for Him doesn’t work. He’s not interested if it isn’t real.

That’s what these verses mean. Don’t tear your clothes; tear your heart instead. If you’ve done wrong, be sorry. Don’t just offer Him a half-hearted apology that doesn’t affect you. If you’ve done wrong (and everyone has), be sorry and change your mind about what you did. That’s the difference. You can be sorry about what you did all day long, but until you change your mind about it, it won’t have the effect you’re hoping for. And this is true for any sin. Big sins. Little sins. All sins.

You have to examine your own life and your own actions, and you have to compare them (not to each other) but to Scripture. Is what you did wrong according to the Bible and the way God says to live? If it is wrong by that standard, you have sinned.

Guess what? So have I! And I hate it. As a perfectionistic, performance-driven person, I hate the things I do that don’t match up to God’s Word. I get so frustrated with myself because I want to be perfect, but I can’t be. And God knows that. But that doesn’t mean I can give up and live however I want and lead others to live however they want. That just means I won’t be perfect, and God is going to pick me up again when I fall.

This month has been about change. It’s what I’ve been studying. And the one facet of change that I keep coming back to is that real heart change is impossible without God. And honestly, a real change of mind is impossible without God and without the Bible. But the first step of reaching that real change of mind is ours. It’s our choice. It’s up to us to look at what God says is right and judge our actions by that standard, and if we find something wrong in our lives, we need to change our minds about it. And then we need to apply Scripture in our lives, and before you know it, your heart will change too.

So make a choice. Change your mind, and God will change your heart. He doesn’t care how sorry you look or how sorry you feel. It doesn’t mean anything if you don’t intend to change, and if all you’ve done is put on a good show, maybe you’ll have people fooled, but as far as God is concerned, you’ll just have a ripped up shirt.

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Sunrise behind the hedgerow at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

People don’t change; God changes people

I like rules. I’m sorry to admit it, but I do. And as much as I love spontaneity, I love structure. I prefer organization to chaos, even though my version of organization looks pretty chaotic. And all of it fits very snugly with my performance-driven mentality, where I feel like I have to reach a certain standard or expectation before I can consider myself successful.

Rules aren’t bad. They’re necessary, but if you love them too much, they can become a hiding place. They can become something you use to stop challenging yourself, the reason why you quit trying to grow. What I’ve learned about change in general is that when you’re talking about life, it doesn’t need help changing. Life changes on its own. We don’t need to prod it or persuade it into changing course; it manages by itself. But when you’re talking about changing a person, that doesn’t happen just by deciding. If you want to change, you need help. You need someone to walk you through the process, and, in that process, rules can either help or hinder.

The trouble with rules is that they usually do go hand-in-hand with a performance-based mentality. If you keep the rules, that means you’re a good person. If you obey the law, that means you’re good enough. Well, that’s not what Scripture says. What I’ve learned about rules and law is that while they are both important, obeying them doesn’t improve you. Obeying the law and obeying the rules doesn’t make you a good person; they just make you someone who obeys.

Sunrise behind the hedgerow at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Sunrise behind the hedgerow at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is 2 Corinthians 3:18.

 So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.

This verse comes out of a larger passage where Paul is writing (through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) to the Church at Corinth. Talk about a screwed up church. Corinth was a mess. And in his first letter to them (1 Corinthians), Paul really let them have it. But this is 2 Corinthians, his second letter, and he’s far gentler this time around. Still firm, but not as harsh. And what this passage is talking about is the difference between the old way of believing and the new way of believing (2 Corinthians 3:7-18).

You should really read the passage, but I’m going to summarize. What Paul is doing in this passage is comparing the Old Way (with the Law and the sacrifices) to the New Way (with the Holy Spirit). What he’s saying is the New Way is better. Far better. Why? Well, the Old Way was good. The Old Way was still amazing because it was something God had given the people so that they knew how to live. But the Old Way led to death; the Old Way required constant sacrifice. The New Way, salvation through faith in Christ, means we don’t have a rulebook to follow; we just believe.

But the trouble with rules is that they dull your mind. If you get it in your head that the rules are what matters, you stop thinking, because the rules never change. And if you’re not careful, the rules can become the reasoning you will use to prevent yourself from growing. Horrible example? Gravity. The rule of gravity says people can’t fly. We weigh too much. So if you hold on to that rule, you’ll never challenge it. But somebody got it in their head that people could, and that led to the Wright Brothers who built the first airplane. And now people fly all the time. Imagine what the world would be like if we didn’t have flight capabilities. And that’s a bad example, but you see where I’m getting at.

Rules make us comfortable. Yes, they’re important, and they’re good, but they should never be used as an excuse to hide. Because when you hide, you stop growing. When you stop growing, you won’t change.

People use the Bible and the Ten Commandments and scripture verses taken out of context to hide. But that’s not how Christ-followers are supposed to live. And the only way to get rid of that mentality that says the law and the rules are what matter is to turn to Christ. Check out verse 17 in this passage:

For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

I don’t know about you, but freedom sounds good to me. Again, I like rules. I prefer to have them. But isn’t it a relief to know that obeying the rules isn’t what determines your eternity? I think living a disciplined life is important, but I’m not good enough to be perfect. The plain and simple truth is that people don’t change; but God changes people.

So don’t put your trust in the rules. Follow Christ. Turn toward Christ and pull off the dulling veil of the Law that tells you that you have to perform, and once you can see who Jesus really is and how much He loves you, you’ll understand that you can’t ever be good enough. But the closer you come to Him and the more you get to know Him, the more He’ll change you to be like Him. That’s the way it works.

If you’re tired of trying to change and always failing, get to know Jesus. He wants to know you. And the more you hang out with Him, the more you’ll become like Him. Rules have nothing to do with it.

Tortoise at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Underdog

I love underdog stories. Those stories where the main character comes from unfortunate circumstances but still manages to overcome the challenges in his life are the most heartwarming stories in culture, I think. Like the Karate Kid movies, even the new one, which I really enjoy. Like the Mighty Ducks. In some cases, even some superhero types are considered underdogs. They just never intended to be heroes.

You have to admit, there’s something endearing about a character who has always had a rough time in life suddenly finding himself (or herself) in the middle of a situation where the stakes keep getting higher. And there’s something inside us that cheers for the underdog constantly. It doesn’t matter who they are or what they’re trying to accomplish; if it seems impossible, and if the odds are stacked against them, we cheer them on. At least, I do. I have a soft spot for underdogs.

What’s amazing to me is that so does God. The Bible is full of underdog stories, where average people like you and me end up in extraordinary circumstances, and through God’s power, they change the world. Yesterday I blogged about how God can take the sadness in our lives and change it into something worth rejoicing about, but that’s not all He can do.

Tortoise at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Tortoise at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Today’s verse is Zephaniah 3:19.

And I will deal severely with all who have oppressed you.
    I will save the weak and helpless ones;
I will bring together
    those who were chased away.
I will give glory and fame to my former exiles,
    wherever they have been mocked and shamed.

You want to talk about underdogs? Let’s talk about Israel for a moment.

When I was little, I used to think that Israel had to be some amazing, great country full of resources and power. I used to think that they had to have done something incredible for God to have called them His Chosen People. But let’s be honest here. Israel is a beautiful country, and they have many resources. But in comparison to other countries in the world, they’re kind of small. They have a lot of history, but other countries have more. Honestly what makes Israel special isn’t anything they’ve done; it’s the fact that God chose them.

By that same token, I used to think that Abraham was someone special. I used to think that he had some kind of special gift or something that made him the best candidate to found the nation of Israel. But he didn’t. He was just a guy. There wasn’t anything special about him other than the fact that God called and he obeyed. That’s it.

Israel and Israel’s history is full of instances where they were the lightweight in the corner who didn’t have a chance. But every time Israel’s leaders did what God told them to do, whether they were patriarchs or kings, God gave them victory over armies much larger than they were. God took a little, unimportant country and elevated it to a place where the region had to recognize their victory. He did the same with people, ordinary shepherds, children, uneducated people, outcasts, foreigners. You name someone who would be relegated to the dregs of society and read about how they followed God and how God raised them up to a level where other people (people who had made fun of them or hated them) had to recognize that they had achieved something.

Only God can do that.

Do you think Joseph could have become the second most important man in the world on his own steam (Genesis 37-54)? Do you think David could have had the strength to stand up to Goliath without God on his side (1 Samuel 17)? Do you think any prostitute could deserve to belong in the lineage of Jesus Christ Himself without God changing her heart (Joshua 2)?

God is a God of underdogs, and He’s always looking for people who are willing to answer when He calls. And those people who answer when He calls have a chance to do the impossible, because when God is working with you, the impossible isn’t impossible anymore.

Are you in a situation where you feel inadequate? Do you find yourself in a place where no one recognizes you, whether you want them to or not? Are you lost in the shuffle of the crowd? Are you the low man on the totem pole?

Guess what? God’s cheering for you. It’s the folks on the bottom who attract God’s attention. I’m not saying He can’t use people on the top. He’s done that before too, but I’d be curious to know how those people at the top got there to begin with. Usually if you start out at the top, you aren’t interested in helping folks at the bottom–and that’s what God usually asks.

So if you’re inadequate and all you know is that you don’t have the skills to accomplish what God has called you to do, you’re in good company. But don’t worry because your responsibility is to answer. You don’t have e to know how it’s going to work out. You just have to do what God’s called you to do, and He will equip you for any eventuality you encounter along the way. And through His power and His strength and Him just being Him, He will change you from being the ineffective one at the bottom of the chain to someone who can change the world.

Katie taking football photos in Hutchinson, KS

Tears are okay

Yesterday afternoon, I watched my best friend board an airplane that is taking her to Europe for a year. I plan to visit, but I won’t be able to get there until the last part of June, assuming my workload even allows me to go. So it will be upward of five months before I get to hug her again. This is a major change considering she has spend nearly every other weekend at my house or with me in some form or another for the better part of two years.

If you’ve never had a friend who can finish your sentences, read your mind, or understand everything you haven’t said out loud, I don’t know if you can understand how empty the prospect of life without them close is. But God is good and has given me so many wonderful, awesome, incredible other friends–and we’re all friends with each other, so we can commiserate her leaving en masse!

I was marveling this morning because the entire event of her going out there is such a mixed bag of emotions. I miss her. Intensely. I was joking with her last night over Skype that I sort of randomly burst into tears at every other inanimate object that reminds me of her. I was in the store and saw flowers and thought of her and cried. Still in the store, I was in the produce area and saw vegetables and remembered she hates them and cried. I think I teared up in seven different sections of the grocery store, and I’m sure everyone around me was wondering what on earth was so sad about biscuits!

But at the same time, even though I’m torn up about her not being here, I’m so excited for her that I can hardly contain it. She gets to travel all over Europe, one of the most empty countries, so many people with no hope and no life, and the thought of all the joy that God has used her to bring in my life being implemented in such a hopeless field makes me so eager for her to get over there.

And I thought about how strange it is that in the blink of an eye, because of God, something that is heart-wrenchingly sad can become something immensely joyful.

Katie taking football photos in Hutchinson, KS

Katie taking football photos in Hutchinson, KS

Today’s verse is John 16:20.

I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy.

This is Jesus talking to the disciples, His “unlearned and ignorant” followers. If you read the whole passage, it’s kind of entertaining. The disciples are all so much like us, it’s really not even funny. But in this verse, Jesus is talking about what is going to happen to Him. He’s talking about how He will be crucified, how He will be tortured, how He will be killed.

But He was trying to prepare them, not just for the fact that He would be killed, but that His death wasn’t the end. Yes, they were going to grieve when He died, but He wasn’t going to stay dead. And after He rose again under His own power, there would be cause for great rejoicing.

Only God can take something so sad and turn it into something worth rejoicing over.

We can’t do that. That’s not an ability we possess. We aren’t strong enough to take a terrible situation and find hope in it without the influence of God in our lives. Maybe we can guess that it might work out okay. Or maybe we can pick some random ethereal feel-good concept out of the air and hope it will happen. But only God allows us to know that things will be all right.

So whatever is changing in your life, if you follow Christ, whether you’re moving jobs or moving friends or moving countries, you can know that God is working things out. And you can know it because He’s told us. And even the sad things in life aren’t going to stay sad, because God is a God who can turn sorrow into happiness.

It’s not wrong to mourn. It doesn’t make you a bad Christian to be sad, especially when someone you love isn’t around as much. For me it’s like losing my left hand. I’m a righty, so I can still function but life won’t be as easy for a little while until I adapt. But if you trust God, if you believe what He said, no matter what situation or circumstance you find yourself in this morning, He’s going to use it to help you and to help others around you and to bring glory to Himself. That’s what being a Christian is.

So it’s okay to be sad because God’s got lots of tissues, and one of these days, He’s going to wipe the tears away and they won’t come back. But until then, tears are okay. But don’t let them take over because you’ll need some tears left for when the sorrow turns to joy.

Sun rising over milo at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Even sunlight fails

Have you ever seen an eclipse? They’re pretty shocking, if you haven’t experienced one. For it to be daylight but not … it’s unsettling.

From some early morning googling, it seems the first recorded solar eclipse took place around 3340 B.C. That’s more than 5,000 years ago! Can you imagine what people were thinking when that happened? There are eclipses mentioned throughout historical documents and literature all throughout the ancient world. Again, thanks to Google, apparently there’s an eclipse mentioned in Amos 8:9 (http://www.earthview.com/ages/history.htm) that took place in 763 B.C.

Eclipses are something that people have been watching for thousands of years, and I can only imagine how puzzled people must have been when they first started studying them. But for those people who looked at the Sun as though it were a god to be worshipped, an eclipse must have frightened them. For all they knew, sunlight was supposed to be constant and unwavering. The sun was always supposed to shine. It would shine until it set, and then it would shine again as it rose.

Maybe there is some benefit to eclipses that I don’t know about, like for nature or the universe or something, but for all I can tell, an eclipse exists for one purpose: To demonstrate that even sunlight isn’t constant. People who worship the Sun must have freaked out way back when because when the object of their worship went dark for no reason at all, they had no idea why it happened. Granted, we live in a more educated culture now, so we understand it. Or do we?

Sun rising over milo at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Sun rising over milo at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is James 1:17.Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.

I’ve always loved this verse, but when I was a freshman in college, I learned to love it even more because I found out what the words meant. I took an astronomy course that year, and my teacher was a believer (it was a Christian college, but I think he might have been one of the only truly kind people there).

In any case, that statement “never changes or casts a shifting shadow” is actually in reference to the rising and setting of the sun, and the part about a shifting shadow is in reference to an eclipse.

Check it out in the Amplified Version:

Every good gift and every perfect (free, large, full) gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of all [that gives] light, in [the shining of] Whom there can be no variation [rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [as in an eclipse].

Isn’t that cool? The Book of James might have been written as early as A.D. 45, and the fact that we can find something like this in there is pretty amazing. Astronomical, maybe?

So what does this mean for us today?

Well, here’s the deal. The Sun is obvious. It’s easy to look at the sun and trust that it’s going to keep shining no matter what. And now, in our advanced and educated era, we understand eclipses. We know what they are, and we know why they happen. We can even predict them! (There will be a solar eclipse in May this year.)

But the Sun is part of a created system, something God imagined and made for us to enjoy. Now what our world has done is turned the creation into a god or because we “understand” it, we consider ourselves gods. But the Sun, as powerful as it may be, isn’t in control of what it does or doesn’t do. It’s a star. It’s an average yellow star tucked away at the edge of an average galaxy in an ever-widening universe.

It’s tempting to put our trust in science and the things we can explain. The things we can’t explain or can’t understand are scary, so we either make up explanations or we ignore them. That’s what we’ve done with God. I’m sure that’s what people did with eclipses until they could explain what they actually were.

An eclipse is a sign that even sunlight fails sometimes. Even something that we think is as constant as sunlight can be darkened in an instant if God wants it to be. But God doesn’t experience eclipses. He doesn’t rise or set like a sun; He is constant. And there’s nothing in existence that can blot out His light.

So if you’re out and about today and the sun is shining (or even if it isn’t), remember to thank God for the gift of light, but remember that light isn’t a constant. And the light shining on us is only here because God wants to be. But what’s nice to know is that even if the sun stops shining, God doesn’t.

The barn at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

A foundation stronger than your circumstances

I work in the plumbing industry, which is really strange for me to say. That’s my full-time job. I write articles and brochures about my company’s pipe-joining systems for plumbing and heating in homes, commercial projects and industrial plants. Starting out in this job (three years ago March 22), I knew pretty much nothing about plumbing. I actually knew very little about the entire concept of creating a building from the ground up. And I can’t say I know everything now. Honestly, I probably shouldn’t even say I know a lot. But I know so much more than I did.

But there was one aspect of building construction that I did understand and that was the concept of having a strong foundation. If a building doesn’t have a strong foundation, you’re asking for trouble. As I posted yesterday, Kansas is one of the windiest places in the world, and if your house isn’t firmly attached to something, one of those strong windstorms will blast through and take your house with it. It doesn’t even need to be a tornado.

But the same is true in life. If your life doesn’t have a solid foundation, the storms of life can rock your world. But they don’t have to be giant storms. Even little cracks in a foundation are a big problem. Just like everyday issues can chip away at you until you’ve become someone you never intended to be.

The barn at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

The barn at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Psalm 62:6.

He alone is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress where I will not be shaken.

Throughout January I’ve been posting about change and how to deal with change when it comes. And I suppose I should preface all of this by stating something obvious: Even if you have a strong foundation, life is still going to throw curve balls at you. Even if you’re firmly grounded, you still experience earthquakes. Just by having a strong foundation it doesn’t mean change isn’t going to have an effect on you; you’ll still experience it. But the strength of your foundation will determine how you handle the experience.

My property has a chicken house on it that was built probably in the 1940s. I’m guessing. There’s also a barn about 100 yards away from the chicken house. It’s a small barn. No loft. I’ve mentioned this a few other times before, but I experienced a ridiculous windstorm here in early November last year. That crazy south wind slammed into my chicken house and lifted it eight inches off its foundation, bent it backward and twisted it sideways. It’s a wreck.

That same windstorm did absolutely no damage to my barn.

Why?

Well, there are probably some other reasons, but I don’t think it’s wind break. Both the barn and the chicken house have about the same amount of trees between them and the open south pastures. Granted, the chicken house faces south, while the barn faces east with its side toward the south. But the strength of those winds should have shaken the barn up somehow.

My best explanation? The barn has a better foundation.

The chicken house was really just sitting on the dirt with some concrete poured around it. It was hand built by the family who first built our house, I think. In any case, it wasn’t exactly a professional job. Neither was the barn, for that matter, but it was built much later. And while I don’t know the state of its foundation, it’s a bigger foundation than the chicken house in any case. So when they face the same damaging wind storm, the chicken house gets bashed to pieces because its foundation isn’t strong enough to support it.

Foundations are–well–foundational. If you don’t have something strong to build on, the whole of your structure will suffer. But foundations can be deceiving too, because maybe you think your foundation is strong enough, but you don’t really know what it’s made out of. And you spend your life building on it, and then one day everything comes crashing down because you didn’t realize how weak it actually was.

Some foundations wear away with time. Or they erode. Or they just weaken. Maybe they started out strong, but as the years pass, they just wear out because what they’re made of isn’t a good enough material for building.

So if you’re going to build a life, why would you build on a foundation that’s uncertain? The economy and finances, human relationships, even yourself are uncertain at best. And if you try to build your life on those things, it’s all going to come crashing down. If you’re going to build your life on a foundation, you need to build it on something that doesn’t change. I know people who have gone through intense trouble. Deaths. Layoffs. Bankruptcy. You name a horrible thing, and they’ve experienced it. But in spite of it, they’re still standing strong. How is it possible?

Their foundation is stronger than their circumstances. Just like my barn, they have a foundation that is stronger than the storms they’re facing. They have chosen to build their life on the truth of the Bible, on the truth of God’s love, and on the faith that God knows what He’s doing and that everything He does is good, even when it doesn’t feel like it.

So check your foundations today. What are you building your life on? Yourself? Your friends? Your job? None of that is good enough. Build your life on Christ, the Rock that doesn’t change. And all that means is to make decisions based on what the Bible says. Live your life the way Christ did. And not only will your foundation grow strong enough to weather any storm, your life will change too.

Wind in the ripening wheat heads at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

When everything changes, God is constant

Kansas is a windy state. Many folks don’t realize that, mostly because many folks don’t think about Kansas. We’re kind of low on the totem pole as far as noteworthiness goes here in the U.S. We’re ranked 50th on the tourist ratings. Most travelers just drive through Kansas without stopping. And, yes, there are areas of the state that are immensely, ridiculously flat, but the whole state isn’t like that.

I love it here. I love traveling to other states, but I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. But I tell you what: The wind in this state is nuts. The wind never stops blowing here. If we ever have a completely calm day, usually it just means that a huge storm is about to come crashing down on you (we have huge storms too).

Around here, especially in Western Kansas, the high, constant winds provide another outlet for generating energy. If you haven’t seen the wind farms in Western Kansas, let me tell you they’re amazing. It’s like you’re watching acres and acres of giant ballerinas spinning in the sky. I don’t know why they make me think of dancers because those giant wind turbines are standing still, but something about the turning of the blades makes me think of ballerinas. I don’t have a photo of them because the stretch of I-70 where you can see them the best prohibits stopping, but I’ve been tempted to risk it just to snap a picture.

Not just any place can host a wind farm cost-effectively. There has to be enough wind to make it viable. The point I’m getting at is that the wind is constant here, constant enough that putting a wind farm in the middle of nowhere is a good idea. If the wind only blew half the time, it wouldn’t be worth it; but you can always trust the wind to blow in Kansas. Wind in Kansas is constant.

Wind in the ripening wheat heads at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Wind in the ripening wheat heads at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Numbers 23:19.

God is not a man, so he does not lie.
    He is not human, so he does not change his mind.
Has he ever spoken and failed to act?
    Has he ever promised and not carried it through?

All throughout January I’ve been posting about change and how life changes and how we can deal with it. Facing change with boldness, facing uncertainty with confidence, is not an easy thing to do, but what I’ve learned is that if you can find something constant in any situation, standing your ground gets a lot easier.

I hate talking to people I don’t know. I’m know good at talking anyway, but holding a conversation with someone I’ve never met is very difficult for me. But if I can find common ground, it’s easier. If I can find some constant between us, we have something to talk about.

I love visiting other countries. I love studying other cultures and other languages. But I’m not a linguist, and sometimes communication is hard because I don’t speak the language and I don’t understand all the cultural nuances. But I’ve met family, brothers and sisters in Christ, from countries all over the place, and even if we don’t speak the same language or come from the same culture, we have something in common. We all follow Christ. And that constant gives us something we can both relate to.

We don’t say a desert is constant because the sand is always shifting. It’s different from one moment to the next. The shorelines aren’t constant because the ocean reshapes them. But rocks? Rocks are eventually weathered away by erosion from wind and rain, but it takes a long time. When we see a rock, we think about it being solid and unchanging. That’s the difference.

And that’s the difference between people and God.

People aren’t constant. We aren’t steady. We may try to be, but it’s our nature to be blown on a different course every day by the winds of popular opinion or anxieties or circumstances. And while some have grown enough in their walk with Christ to understand the importance of being constant and steady, we’re still human; we’re still vulnerable to the lure of inconsistency, no matter how damaging it is.

I’m not saying you can’t trust people. We have to trust each other. But that trust always needs to be supported by a level of understanding that human beings are still made of dust.

But God is different. God is constant. Like the wind in Kansas, He’s always there. Like the giant rocks on the faces of great mountains, He doesn’t change. Like an anchor at the bottom of the ocean keeping the huge ships from drifting away on the tides and unyielding undercurrents of the sea, He can’t be bullied and He can’t be intimidated.

God is constant. Completely constant.

He’s always been there. He’ll always be there.

Coping with change in life is just like any other struggle we face, like talking to people we don’t know or venturing into cultures we don’t understand. If we can find something constant to hold onto, everything else will fall into place. And God is the constant we need in our crazy, out-of-control lives. When you reach out to Him, He’ll be there. He’s waiting for you right now, arms open, hands extended.

Will reaching out to Him make your life less nuts? Probably not. But when everything around you is spinning, it’s nice to know that you have someone to hold onto who isn’t.