"I AM THE LORD, I DO NOT CHANGE"
by Wayne S. Walker
And: You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You remain; and they will all grow old like a garment; like a cloak You will fold them up, and they will be changed. But You are the same, and Your years will not fail (Heb. 1:10-12).
The inspired writer affirms that one characteristic of the physical heavens and earth, in contrast to the eternal nature of God, is that they change. In truth, it has been said that the only thing in this life which really does not change is the fact that all things change.
A number of years ago, after living in the same home for nearly fifteen years and working with the same congregation during all that time, this writer and his family decided to make a change in which we shall move to a different location where I will be laboring with another church. Such a move involves several changes—selling a house and finding a new one, living and learning to navigate in a new city, locating new doctors and dentists and so forth. And sometimes these changes can be a little intimidating because there are so many unknowns involved. Will we be able to find housing that is both suitable and affordable? Will we like our new surroundings? Will the medical personnel whom we choose be as satisfactory as those to whom we have grown accustomed? Even so, the changes must come, and since we cannot stop them we must learn to cope with them. Anna Letetia Waring wrote:
“In heavenly love abiding,
Nochange my heart shall fear;
And safe is such confiding,
For nothing changes here.”
Change in our lives, whether by choice or necessity, whether wanted or unwelcomed, often has the tendency to make us stop and think about where we have been, where we are now, and where we are going. Therefore, it is good for us to consider the implications of such changes. Some changes are simply a part of life. After we are born into this world, we begin to grow, and growth necessitates change.
We progress from infancy to the toddler years, to childhood, to puberty, to adolescence, to young adulthood, to middle age, and finally to the time when “the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, ‘I have no pleasure in them’” (Eccl. 12:1). We find jobs and sometimes have to change jobs. We buy homes and sometimes have to change homes, as Abraham did (Gen. 12:1-4). We have children, and they change as they grow. And during this time while changes take place in us and our lives, they also take place in others too. Those whom we have loved in the past grow old and pass on. Friends move away or we move away from them. The passing of time always brings change.
Some changes are by their very nature good. Peter said, “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19). Repentance is a change of heart or mind, brought about by godly sorrow for past sin, that results in a change of life. And being converted means being changed from one who is lost in sin and condemned before God to one who is redeemed by the blood of Christ and thus justified in God’s sight. And once we have been converted, we must, “as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby” (1 Pet. 2:2). As in the physical realm, so in the spiritual, growth demands change. These are changes that God wants us to make. And, of course, we look forward to that time when “the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Cor. 15:52).
Some changes, however, are of necessity bad. There are those who have “changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image make like corruptible man” and “the truth of God for the lie” (Rom. 1:23-25). Some individuals who were once faithful Christians have changed into those who have forsaken the Lord, often because they love this present world (2 Tim. 3:10). Some churches which once stood firmly for the truth have changed into apostate bodies for one reason or another (e.g., Rev. 3:1-3). These kinds of changes make us sad. Still, we realize that while we can and must preach and teach, warn and work, admonish and encourage, we simply cannot control what others do. They have to be responsible for the changes that they make. Yet through all these changes, whether good or bad, whether desirable or undesirable, there is someone who can help us weather them without wavering. “For I am the Lord, I do not change” (Mal. 3:6).
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8). Implicit trust in our heavenly Father and the hope that he gives to us through his Son Jesus Christ are forces that will enable us to have stability as we live in a world of change. Henry Frances Lyte was dying of tuberculosis and planning to change his residence from his long-time beloved home in Brixham, England, to the warmer climate of Italy for his health, when he finished the hymn with these familiar words:
Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changest not, abide with me!
If you will pardon a cinematic reference, in “Lion King” Rafiki told Simba, “Change is good.” That is often true. But it is also hard sometimes. Yet, as Rafiki again said, we can either run from it or learn from it. May we put our lives in God’s hands and choose to take the latter course.
[—Taken and slightly updated from Truth Magazine; Nov. 3, 2005; Vol. XLIX, NO. 21; pp. 17-18]