One of the fine writers in the Lake City area is Michael Stone (Phd). In a recent essay he wrote, “The biblical story of ancient Israel’s 40 year pilgrimage through Egypt through territory to the Promised Land becomes a metaphor for all of life to those who know it at all. We are all caught up in the story. We are all on a journey.
Most of us, however, seem to prefer a life with minimal change. We don’t like to be disturbed. So we carve out routines. The early-in-life spectacular discoveries become customary and ordinary. What once made us feel the flush of excitement comes to be seen as normal and expected. Life becomes dreary.
You know the dull man or woman who hasn’t entertained a new thought in a decade, don’t you? She is critical of all that for the simple reason that things are not as they used to be. He doesn’t just reminisce but positively pines for the past. No, he lets the memory of the past make the past far more glamorous than it ever was and lets it be known that he resents that things have changed.
It may be as trivial as technology or as monumental as the nature of morality. When people long for the “good old days” of their youth, I sometimes ask – depending on their generation – if they would really prefer life before penicillin or power steering, telephones or computers, air conditioning or coronary bypass surgery. More seriously, I may ask if they truly want to return to a time when women couldn’t vote, segregation kept schools and churches monolithic, and children had precious legal protection from abuse.
Change is always a challenge and can be positively unsettling. But it is also opportunity. It offers the chance to learn new things. It introduces us to new people and forces us to make decisions and choices at a conscious level.
Whether individuals or families, corporations or churches, people who set their feet or minds in concrete are hiding from reality. They are even being untrue to their divine calling. God calls us to live in confidence and hope, not fear. He asks us to believe – as did Abraham and Sarah, Moses and the Israelites, Paul and Barnabas – that he is already present in the places that are new and untested for us. He is faithful to his people. We are on a journey with God.
You get an unwelcome diagnosis. The company transfers you. Some key person in your life dies. A dream fails to come true. Someone disappoints you terribly. The temporary and passing nature of reality confronts you directly. Imagine that you are in camp with Moses. The call to strike the tents has been given. It is time to move ahead with joy that God is already where you are going”(unquote).
What simple yet amazing truth Michael Stone calls us to. Yet in all the changes that come, the Word of God still says, “For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come. By him (Jesus Christ) let us offer the praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. “Jesus Christ the same, yesterday, and today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8-15).
The last six months has not be especially kind to Ann and me. Her courage speaks more than words – in hospital for more than a month and in rehab the same length of time. Hospital for me, more than thrice, and the lonely periods of waiting, And wondering just what God has in mind for us.
Today is our 58th wedding anniversary. Two kids (in teenage years) marrying for life. Beginning the journey with a 1931 worn out Chevy with the name “Jack and Ann” brushed on the silver grill just under the crudely painted heart. Dad gave me two hundred dollars, which was two hundred dollars more than I had. The Chevy could make thirty-five miles per hour. So off we went on an unplanned four days of travel and honeymooning. Later I found out that the term “honeymoon” is a short period of time between “I do” and “You’d better!”
We arrived at the end of the week at the first church we were to minister to. It was a small congregation and when I applied, the leaders wanted to know why we were leaving the Miami area and beginning in a small town 300 miles away. My reply was simple. We wanted to leave “Mother and Father and be joined to one another” and have a family of our own.
No one told us about the various pitfalls and struggles that were awaiting us. No one explain in advance the joys of just being together – forever. No one counseled us about sexual matters, or how to live on $30.00 a week. Now here we are 58 years later, still holding hands and praying together. Amid all the tears, and sorrow, joys and victories, we have tested God and found that his Son is one of the variables of life that never change. “Hang tight, it’s a long ride”, I used to say. Now we just say, “Hang tight”. For you readers that have loved us and read us from one week to the other, and oh yes, prayed for us – we are grateful.
“Jesus Christ the same, yesterday, today and forever”.