So why do things change? Why do people change? There are many reasons, but I think we can summarize them in a few basic causes.
As I noted in the previous post, all of us have experienced change as part of growing up. As we mature, we gain knowledge by observation and education, and we gain skills because our bodies and our brains increase their capacity for work. We get better by practice. And one of the great joys in life is to see that improvement happen—to realize that we can do things that we couldn’t do before, that we understand things that were a complete mystery to us.
Growth is a delight, because it means improvement.
But God isn’t like that. He knows all things; he can do all things; he’s already perfect, so he doesn’t need to improve—in fact, it’s impossible for him to improve. If you’re on the mountaintop, any movement is downhill. For God, any change would be a decline—which would be unthinkable.
Does his perfection deprive him of “one of the great joys in life,” the joy of learning and improving? Au contraire, mon ami. His perfection—or I should say his perfections—are greater joy to him, and to us, than mere improvement could ever be. His attributes—love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control, and all the rest—bring him utter satisfaction. And part of that satisfaction, I suppose, comes from our satisfaction in those same attributes as we experience them from him, perfect, unfailing, always sufficient.
No need to grow or learn or improve. Perfect.
Everything in this world—and every physical thing everywhere else in the universe—is on a determined course to the landfill. Your shiny new car will one day take a trip through a crusher, to either rust away as a nondescript hunk of metal or be recycled into something else. Your house, after some undetermined number of renovations, will fall to pieces and be demolished so the lot can be used for something else—even if along the way it achieves temporary status as a historical landmark.
And don’t even think about that swing set in the back yard; it’ll be nonfunctional far sooner than you can imagine.
Your body, and your mind, will fall into disrepair, if the Lord tarries, and “you” will be placed in a box and laid to rest.
All things must pass.
God is not like that. He does not decay; he does not even tire or sleep. He is the very definition of life and strength and vitality.
Irresistible Outside Influences
Sometimes change is forced upon us.
Years ago I was on a business trip to Puerto Rico. My task—a delightful one, I might add—was to drive around the island, visit the Christian schools I knew about, and look for any others along the way. (What a great gig!)
As it happened, a hurricane—Georges by name—had been through several weeks earlier. Recovery had been long, slow, and painful. Everywhere I drove I saw evidences of its destructive force. Roofs torn off. Powerlines—and poles—down. Fruit trees heavily damaged.
And this wasn’t “the big one.” Twenty years later Hurricane Maria came through, causing 15 times as much damage, damage that has still not been completely repaired.
People who think they want to ride out a hurricane are just not, um, right in the head. These are forces well beyond our ability to control or resist.
There are other such forces. House fire. Financial setback. Dissolution of relationships. We know how it goes. Sometimes it’s all just too much.
God is never in that situation. There are no forces greater than he is. He has no enemies who can frustrate, stymie, or even delay his plans. Even the greatest evil act of his greatest enemy—the assassination of Messiah—not only didn’t frustrate his plan, but was actually a key part of its accomplishment.
God is that great.
Next time: so what?