Rainbow in the sky near Esfuerzo Dos, Peten, Guatemala

When everything changes, God doesn’t

Do you know people who keep their promises? They’re good people to know. Their word means something to them, and you can trust that when they make you a promise, they will do all they can to see it through to the end. But how many times does someone have to keep a promise before it becomes part of their character? Once? Ten times? Half their life?

The amazing thing about God (one of the many) is that He has made thousands and thousands of promises, just that we know about in the Bible, and He has kept every single one. Maybe I’m generalizing, but I don’t think a normal average human being can do that. At some point, we have to break promises because we aren’t capable of always keeping them; but God is.

Rainbow in the sky near Esfuerzo Dos, Peten, Guatemala

Rainbow in the sky near Esfuerzo Dos, Peten, Guatemala

Today’s verse is Isaiah 44:8.

Do not tremble; do not be afraid.
    Did I not proclaim my purposes for you long ago?
You are my witnesses—is there any other God?
    No! There is no other Rock—not one!”

From the moment He created time itself, God has been making promises to His Creation, and up until now, every promise He has made, except for a few, have become reality. And those few outstanding will change everything once He does what He’s promised to do.

The hallmark of someone you can trust, someone who keeps their promises, is that when they say they’re going to do something, they’re really going to do it. And that works with God as well as with people down here.

So what does that mean for us? Yes, it’s good to know that God keeps His promises, but you have to know His promises before it really has any bearing on our lives. You have to know that He has promised to never abandon us. You have to know that He has promised to help us get through life. You have to know that He has promised to make everything work out for good for the people who have chosen to follow Him.

Has He really promised those things? Yes, He really has. And because God keeps His promises, we can know that He will truly do them.

God has been keeping promises for thousands and thousands of years. The Bible is proof of what He has done and why He has done it. And since He has been keeping promises for so long, why would He stop now? What we need to remember is that God doesn’t change. In our whole life, our whole existence, He is the one person that doesn’t. Everything else does. Life happens. People die. Babies are born. People get married. People get divorced. People move and leave and return. Churches change. Jobs change. Economies change. Governments change.

In our lives on Earth, there’s only one constant: Everything changes.

And change isn’t bad. Most of the time it’s good because it forces us outside our comfort zone, but the change that we welcome is usually the change that we initiate. It’s the change that we don’t choose that is difficult to bear. It’s the change we have no control over that discourages us and frightens us and worries us.

But even when everything around us changes, God doesn’t.

I’m sitting at my office computer accessing the internet from a wireless connection that is broadcast to my farm from a tower in a nearby town. When high-speed internet came to the rural areas of Kansas, there was much rejoicing because we were all still stuck in the limited universe of dial-up modems for years. And with every year, our technology changes and our ability to communicate over vast distances improves. We are able to do things today that people 30 years ago could only imagine; we are able to do things today that people 100 years ago couldn’t even dream.

Our world has changed drastically in the last decade or so. It’s weird for me to stay that I remember 20 years ago, but I do. I remember what the world was like in the ’80s and ’90s. I remember watching the slow change that overtook us until we became the country we are today.

But sitting in my office with all my technology, living in my world that is so drastically different from the world I grew up in, I am writing about the same God who told Noah to build an ark to save who he could. I am writing about the same God who promised Abraham that he would be a great nation. I am writing about the same God who turned a little shepherd boy into the greatest king Israel had ever known. The same God who heard the cries of the people who were seeking Him, the same God who made everything, the same God who send Christ to die for us, is same now as He was then.

And in a world that refuses to stop changing no matter how hard we try to hold on to what was, having that constant is awfully nice. Because we can trust that no matter how topsy-turvy everything in our lives gets, God is still working things out. He promised He would. And if God has kept His promises for all these thousands of years, He isn’t going to stop now.

So don’t despair when things change. Don’t worry and don’t shut down because God’s not changing, and He still has the power to take any situation (especially the ugly ones we’ve screwed up) and make it beautiful. We just have to let Him.

My shadow at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Does your shadow ever leave?

I am always amazed at how big God is. It’s wintertime now, which means it’s the best time of year to go stargazing, and if you don’t mind dodging wildlife, you can see more stars than you can imagine from my driveway. It’s those clear, crisp, quiet evenings when I’m trying to count the stars I can see and utterly failing because there are so many that make me wonder at God.

A popular late-night talk show host was talking to an actress on his show the other evening, and he is of the opinion that if there is a God, He has more important matters to deal with than us. But the Bible tells us differently. The Bible says God made everything and holds everything together and still wants to be a part of our everyday lives.

And this isn’t something that just happened in the New Testament. No, God was in relationships with His people starting in the Old Testament, in the very first book of the Bible.

My shadow at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

My shadow at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Today’s verses are Genesis 46:3-4.

“I am God, the God of your father,” the voice said. “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make your family into a great nation. I will go with you down to Egypt, and I will bring you back again. You will die in Egypt, but Joseph will be with you to close your eyes.”

This is a promise that God made to Jacob, who is considered to be one of the Patriarchs of Israel. It started with Abraham, who I mentioned on Wednesday. Abraham had a son named Isaac, and Isaac had a son named Jacob. And for those of you who know the Bible, you probably know where this passage comes from. Jacob’s youngest–most beloved–son Joseph had established an abundant and prosperous life in Egypt through God’s grace (read the story; Genesis 37-50; it sounds long, but it’s one of the most amazing stories you’ll ever read), and he had invited his father to come down and live with him because where Jacob lived was in famine.

Here’s the thing: Egypt was always considered a bad place. It was a place of pagans. It was a place of evil. And Canaan, where Jacob’s family was, had been given to his family. It was the Promised Land. So it’s no wonder that Jacob didn’t want to leave.

So this is what God told him: Go anyway. And God promised that He would go with him. God promised to go with Jacob into Egypt and promised to bring his family back out again. And if you keep on reading into Exodus, you’ll find out that’s exactly what God did.

But what stood out to me this morning is that no matter where we go, God will be there. And if God has told us to go somewhere, He’s going to go with us. There are examples all throughout Scripture about how people have tried to run from God (Jonah, being the best-known example), but in every case, what they discovered is that you can’t run from God. How can you run from Someone who is everywhere?

You can’t. It’s like playing hide and seek with your own shadow. You can’t get away because it’s always constant. Maybe you can’t always see it, but it’s always there. And it’s the same way with God.

So what does this mean today?

Well, for one, don’t try to hide from God. That’s silly.

And two? If God tells you to do something or go somewhere, don’t be afraid. He’ll go with you no matter where you go. He’ll be standing right beside you in those moments when you have to make a choice. He’ll be cheering for you when you do what He’s called you to do. He’ll be there. He promised.

In Jacob’s case, God told him to go to the worst place imaginable. God told him to go to a foreign land that had been reviled as an evil place, but even in that evil place, God was with him. And that same God who kept His promise to Jacob and all his family is our God today. He could be trusted to keep His word back then; we can trust Him to keep His word now.

So don’t be afraid of making hard choices and stepping away from your comfort zone. God doesn’t live in your comfort zone, and He’s waiting for you get out of it and come to where He is.

Big horn sheep grazing at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Status quo

This is the time of year when everyone starts thinking about change. We think about changing our weight. We think about changing our style. We think about changing our habits and the types of people we hang out with and the things we do.

Everyone changes things up in January, and I think it’s ironic because deep down inside, I don’t think anyone really likes change. People are creatures of habit. Even the change we initiate is uncomfortable, and most people I know change things up because they don’t want to get stuck in a rut. They do it as a preventative measure; not because they yearn for change. Maybe I’m wrong and there are people out there who thrive on change, but I haven’t met one before.

But change is essential. Without change, we don’t grow. Without change, we plateau. Without change, we get comfortable, not only with ourselves but with God. And that’s a place I never want to be. I never want to be comfortable with God, where I feel perfectly capable of doing everything myself and never having to ask Him for help.

Big horn sheep grazing at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Big horn sheep grazing at Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

Today’s verses are Genesis 12:1-3.

The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.”

God has a history of helping ordinary people to do extraordinary things, and the story of Abraham and Sarah (at this time, Abram and Sarai) is just one example. There was nothing special about Abraham. He was just a guy who made a choice–to follow God instead of rejecting Him. But that one choice changed everything.

God told him to leave. Leave his home. Leave his family. Leave the life he’d built in the country he’d always known. And just go. God didn’t say where. He didn’t tell Him where he’d be living or how he was going to get there or when (or if) he’d ever come back.  Just go.

And Abraham did.

The trouble with me is that I hate change. I despise it. I can deal with it. I don’t mind coping with change, but it’s my least favorite thing in the world. I understand why it’s necessary, but I don’t like it.

I have the same internet provider I’ve had for years. I have the same cellular phone provider I did when I was a child. I use the same brand of shampoo and conditioner on my hair. I hate change. But change is good.

Now, does that mean the status quo is bad? Well, not necessarily. Change is good, but many people are in a position where they have to keep to the status quo right now. Changing right now would have a negative impact on their lives or on their families. But if God has told you to change, you need to do it.

The thing about Abraham is that God had huge plans for him. Like this verse lays out, Abraham had a great future in store for him. I mean, imagine what would have happened if Abraham hadn’t done it. He would never have left. He would never have become the father of Israel. Everything hinged on Abraham doing what God called him to do. Granted, God would have worked out His master plan some other way, but think about what Abraham would have missed out on.

The long and the short of it is that God couldn’t have used Abraham where he was. He had to move. He had to change.

I have a lot of things changing in my life this year. Some changes I’ve chosen. Most of them I haven’t. They range from my personal life to my professional life, from my own life to the lives of the people I love. And the one uniting factor is that I have absolutely zero control over any of it. If you’ve read this blog for any amount of time, you know that I’m a control freak, and not having control over anything shakes my world.

None of the change is bad, necessarily. On the contrary, most of it is super exciting and shows just how much God is working not only in my life but in the lives of others. But in all these situations, the only thing I can do is hold on to what I know is true and keep moving forward.

Change is unsettling and uncomfortable and unpleasant. And it helps me remember that I’m not in control and that I need help daily. Change helps us grow because we don’t know what’s coming next and we have to rely on God for every step, because when we change everything up we don’t know what the next step is going to bring.

But if God has called you to change something in your life, don’t be afraid of it. If He’s called you to change, do it. The story of Abraham tells us that God’s already worked out the details; he just needs us to say yes and take that first step, even if we can’t see where we’re going.