Lately, it seems like change is everywhere around me. My oldest daughter started college. My youngest daughter started high school. My back injury may or may not require surgery. My current job situation may be in flux, due to the aforementioned back problem and possible opportunities in another direction. One of my closest friends (my former pastor and worship leader) moved 1200 miles away this week. His departure affects me personally, professionally, spiritually, and musically. Summer has turned to fall, etc.

By the time I started college, many years ago, I had developed at least an acceptance of change, if not always an appreciation for it. However, over the last several years, I have endured moving multiple times, changed occupations, adjusted to different places of worship, endured a difficult marital breakup, developed new friendships as older ones have faded, and experienced the deaths of close friends and family members (including my only son). It seems like the older I get, the more “set in my ways” I am becoming. Dear God, I am getting really TIRED of change!

And yet, to be human is to experience change. Each moment of our existence brings new possibilities. Some doors close, others open. People come and go in and out of our lives. The rising popularity in social networks like Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter are in one part because it gives us a way to try to hold on to some things and some people when change comes along. The truth of our lives is that we can’t appreciate the mountain tops without experiencing the valleys. If we try to downplay the disappoints and difficulties we go through, it steals some of the reality of the joys and successes we also have. In the film version of Shadowlands, Joy Gresham (portrayed by Debra Winger) says to C. S. Lewis (portrayed by Anthony Hopkins): “We can’t have the happiness of yesterday without the pain of today. That’s the deal.” At the end of the film, C. S. Lewis reflects on that moment and realizes the truth Joy shared there by saying:

“Why love, if losing hurts so much? I have no answers anymore: only the life I have lived. Twice in that life I’ve been given the choice: as a boy and as a man. The boy chose safety, the man chooses suffering. The pain now is part of the happiness then. That’s the deal.”

As believers, the comforting rock that we can cling to in the midst of the maelstrom of change we experience is the unchanging nature of God. “I the Lord do not change.” (Malachi 3:6). “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8). No matter what life changes come our way, God remains faithful to us. He is dependable without being predictable, so even in his unchanging nature, God acts and interacts with us in new and creative ways. Thus, the same unchanging God can say, “Behold, I make all things new.” (Revelation 21:5). In His infiniteness, the unchanging God of the universe continues to reveal Himself to us in new and fresh ways. In music and other forms of art, balance is achieved through repetition and variation. We need some familiar themes to help establish points of contact along the way, but if all we get is the same melody played the same way, verse after verse after verse, it gets stagnant and boring. Change is essential to art and essential to life.

Maybe God allows upheavals in our life so that we might learn to depend on Him and Him alone, not on things, possessions, or people. Instead of fearing the unknown ahead, maybe it’s time to once again embrace the exciting frontiers ahead, for in the words of the old song, “I know who holds tomorrow.”

” ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ “ (Jeremiah 29:11)