“The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen”
(1 Peter 4:7-11 NIV)
Let’s get it out in the open. I don’t like change. There I said it. Well, that’s not completely true. I’m Ok with the change I initiate. I’m just not comfortable with change that is forced upon me. And truth be told I experience a little bit of angst when I initiate the change. All of which is ironic, considering the fact God called me into an itinerant ministry, which by its very nature is about change and movement.
But I’ve always been the person who at Thanksgiving has a specific idea of what constitutes Thanksgiving dinner. And it’s what has always constituted Thanksgiving dinner; Turkey mashed potatos, stuffing etc. Innovators of new Thanksgiving foods need not apply. Note to the person who thought a kale vegetarian lasagna would make a nice change at Thanksgiving: no one like you. Someone actually made the dish below for someone’s Thanksgiving. I don’t even know what it is: (Change is bad!)
Although I’m not a zealot. This would be OK
I’m the person to whom it would never occur to change the furniture around in their home. Once it’s there it’s there. No need to tap into your inner fung shui and start moving my stuff around. Just go sit on the back porch with the person with the kale lasagna until you’re willing to repent of your ways.
And I know I’m not alone on this. The truth is, most of us are stressed out by change. Most lists of stressful situations have one thing in common. Change, whether that is a move, a new home, a marriage, birth of a child or a loss, change is the common denominator. And it’s easy to see why. Chnage has an element of loss to it as we give up the known and are thrust into the unknown. Even those who thrive on change will admit it can be stressful.
Of course, there is only one problem. As much as we long for permanence we simply can’t stop change. Change is all around us. We age. We move from work to retirement. Our children grow up, move, get married and start families on their own.
I was hit with a wave of change this past week. A conference I have been attending for almost thirty years decided they will no longer meet. One of my favorite restaurants closed for good. One of the people I’ve looked up to in ministry all these years announced their retirement. It was one of those weeks where it seemed like everything was changing, nothing was the same. Ever had a week like that?
Where does the longing for permanence come from? We live in a world where nothing is permanent. Everything changes. So where did a longing for something that doesn’t seem to exist come from? For that matter, since everything in the world changes where did we ever come up with the concept of permanence in the first place?
In his classic book, “Mere Christianity”, C. S. Lewis writes we all have a sense of fairness, yet never see fairness lived out. He reasons that if we don’t see fairness or right and wrong in the world, it must reasonably come from somewhere else, A God who treaseres what is right and fair. I think it must be the same with our longing for something permanent. In a world that is all about change, our longing for permanence must come from beyond us.
It’s the longing we all have for eternity with Jesus. It’s a longing for heaven. We don’t know all that God has in store for us in eternity. Mostly because its so far beyond us that even the saints who have glimpsed it fail to describe it with any justice. But the one thing we do know is that it is an eternity with Jesus , the one who reigns forever and ever. We know it will be truly home for us. Every tear wiped away, every wound healed. Every memory of every sin erased.
Peter tells us in this scripture that how we live matters. It matters not because we are earning our way into heaven, but because we are training for the type of person we are to be for all eternity.
So if you are in a time of great change and stress, don’t worry. It will pass, it will not always be like this. For in Jesus, we have a home where He is to be praised forever.
Rev. Dr. Brian Jones <><