December 1, 2004
A man from the back mountains of Tennessee found himself one day in a large city, for the first time standing outside an elevator. He watched as an old, haggard woman hobbled on, and the doors closed. A few minutes later the doors opened and a young, attractive woman marched smartly off. The father hollered to his youngest son, “Billy, go get mother!”
Change: “to make different, to give a different position, course, or direction, to replace with another.”
One of the great constants of life is change. It seems that everything around us is constantly changing. The world of just thirty years ago no longer exists today. Morals change. Ideas and institutions which seemed sound and enduring no longer exist. That which was unheard of fifty years ago is now taken as commonplace.
How many things in your life are different today than they were just one year ago - five years - ten years? We change. Our perspective of the world changes and the attitude of others towards us change. Physically we are all changing.
On June 4, 1783 at the market square of a French village of Annonay, not far from Paris, a smoky bonfire on a raised platform was fed by wet straw and old wool rags. Tethered above, straining its lines, was a huge taffeta bag 33 feet in diameter. In the presence of “a respectable assembly and a great many other people,” and accompanied by great cheering, the balloon was cut from its moorings and set free to rise majestically into the noon sky. Six thousand feet into the air it went - the first public ascent of a balloon, the first step in the history of human flight. It came to earth several miles away in a field, where it was promptly attacked by pitchfork-waving peasants and torn to pieces as an instrument of evil!
Change is often hard to deal with. This season of the year (Thanksgiving to New Years) highlights our struggle. At family gatherings we cling to our past while wondering at the future.
When the railroads were first introduced to the United States, some folks feared that they’d be the downfall of the nation! Consider this excerpt from a letter to then President Jackson dated January 31, 1829:
As you may know, Mr. President, ‘railroad’ carriages are pulled at the enormous speed of 15 miles per hour by ‘engines’ which, in addition to endangering life and limb of passengers, roar and snort their way through the countryside, setting fire to crops, scaring the livestock and frightening women and children. The Almighty certainly never intended that people should travel at such breakneck speed.
Martin Van Buren, Governor of New York
Sometimes it is hard to know how to think about all the changes in the world around us. How are we to adjust to change? How do we approach change - to evaluate what we need to embrace and what we need to let go of?
Speaking of man and creation, the psalmist declares this of God, “Even they will perish, but Thou dost endure; and all of them will wear out like a garment; like clothing Thou wilt change them, and they will be changed. But Thou art the same, and Thy years will not come to an end” (Psalm 102:26,27).
Isaiah says, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8).
There are so many ideas and paths to explore in life. Yet, how many of them are based on the word of the unchanging God of creation? While the whole of creation changes and will pass away, God remains constant. His word, His nature, and His will remain without change. The surest means of understanding how to live in the face of great change is to examine everything according to the foundation of His word and revelation to us.
As I experience life (44 years and going strong!!!), I have found confidence in His word. Bedrock to build my life on. An anchor to hold me from disaster. Following the fading philosophies of this world has always led me into disaster. Following God’s word has either kept me from disaster or led me through to safety.May we continually allow His word to evaluate our lives and give us understanding to evaluate the changes we see around us.