Yesterday, Today, Forever
August 28, 2016
Last Tuesday morning, for some inexplicable reason, Kelly and I woke up really early. We were at the beach, on vacation, yet for some reason we both were awake. Even as the sun was rising. I hate that. On one of the rare and few days that we could sleep in- no dog to take out, no child to get ready for school, no work to get dressed for,no reason at all for either of us to be awake- yet we both were.
Knowing that going back to sleep just wasn’t going to happen, I got out of bed to put the coffee on. As I did, I looked out over the water and saw at least one good reason to be awake at that disappointing hour. The early morning sky was incredible. The rising sun was creating beautiful colors in the clouds- pink and red, orange and yellow. Everything was bright and beautiful. I grabbed the camera and headed down to the beach, hoping to get some pictures of the sun rising over the ocean and at least get some good out of being up so early.
It didn’t take me more than 10 minutes to get dressed, get the camera and walk the 3 blocks from the condo to the ocean. But by the time I got there, it was over. The beautiful colors were gone. The sun had risen high enough in the sky that the pink and red and orange and yellow had been replaced by plain old bright light. The day had begun. It was disappointing because I had really hoped to get some spectacular pictures of that glorious sunrise. But I had just missed it.
Things had changed just enough that what I was hoping to see was gone. Things had changed just enough that what I was expecting to find was not there anymore. Things had changed just enough that what I went looking for couldn’t be found. Change is like that. It happens quickly, yet subtly. We can’t see it, but it happens right before our eyes. We know it is happening and we know that there is nothing we can do to stop it. I would have loved to have stopped that sunrise, for just a few minutes, to give myself time to get to where I wanted to be. So that I could do what I wanted to do but, of course, that was impossible.
Change can’t be prevented. Nothing stays the same. The earth spins, the sun rises and the sun sets. Life moves on. And we don’t like that. We don’t like change. We want things to stay the same or even to go back to how they were when things were good. The “good old days” that never were as good as we would like to think they were. Change is scary, and it is inevitable. Change is unavoidable, and it is necessary. Change is constant, and it is unstoppable. The only thing that doesn’t change is change itself. Nothing stays the same yesterday, today, or forever. Nothing that is except for Jesus Christ. As Hebrews tells us “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
In a world of constant, unavoidable, inevitable change it is comforting to hear that. It is comforting to know that in the face of great change one thing stays the same. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Jesus hasn’t changed in the past. Jesus isn’t changing in the present. Jesus won’t change in the future. And that’s good. It is comforting to have this one constant in our lives.
Yet, at the same time, it is also scary. It’s not scary to know that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. But it is scary when we take that to mean that we should be the same yesterday and today and forever. It is scary when we use those words to assume that the ways we understand Jesus should remain the same yesterday and today and forever. It is scary when we take the comfort of knowing that Jesus hasn’t changed, isn’t changing and won’t change and use it to justify holding on to the past, to create anxiety in the present, and to fear the future.
Yet this is what many of us do. It is what many of us understand it to mean. And so we do hold on to what we had, to who we were. We are worried about what is going on around us. We are afraid of what will happen. We take those words that are meant to provide us with comfort in the face of change- scary, unavoidable, constant change- and we use them as an admonition to AVOID change, to resist change, to do everything we can to prevent change.
If Jesus stays the same, then so should we. If Jesus stays the same, then so should his people. If Jesus doesn’t change, then neither should his church. And this is simply wrong and it totally misses the point. The message that Hebrews is trying to convey, the point that is being made, is not that change should be avoided. But it is about how change should be embraced.
Our world is changing, our lives are changing, our church is changing. And that’s okay. It’s okay as long as we remember that our God is not changing. It’s okay as long as we remember that our Jesus is not changing. Change is okay because Jesus will never leave us or forsake us. Change is okay because the Lord is our helper. We can change, we should change, we need to change. We need to look at ourselves, at our lives, at our world, at our church. We need to look at all the ways that we try to hold on to the past. We need to look at all the ways we are anxious in the present. We need to look at all the ways we fear the future
We need to look at all of these and see how they are harming us, how they are preventing us from being who God has created us to be, how they are stopping us from becoming who God has called us to be. We need to stop fearing change and start to anticipate it. We need to stop resisting change and start to appreciate it. We need to stop avoiding change and start to embrace it.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Our unchanging Lord and Savior needs us to share his constant grace with this constantly changing world. Our unchanging Lord and Savior needs us to share his sustained mercy in this mercilessly changing world. Our unchanging Lord and Savior needs us to share his unconditional love in this continuously changing world. So we can’t be afraid to change. We can’t resist change. We must embrace it to share the unchanging grace, mercy, and love of our unchanging God with this rapidly changing world.
Jesus’ love is revealed in our love. Jesus’ mercy is revealed in our mercy. Jesus’ grace is revealed in our grace. So let our grace abound, let our mercy flow, let our love continue. Then this changing world will see, this changing world will know, this changing world will believe that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.