This summer may go down in history for me as the summer of change. It's been fun, interesting, and challenging to say the least. I left a position as associate pastor at a local church after 2 and a half years, I took a leap of faith and followed God's leading to start another church, my wife graduated from college and has begun her career, and my dear grandmother, and last living grandparent, passed away a month shy of turning 95. Change around every corner. Now I have always embraced change as part of life and don't typically resist it (that much), but I have recognized that in order to gracefully navigate your way through change one thing is required. A constant. That's right...in order to cope with change you need some things in your life that don't change. This can come in several ways, but the key is to make this constant something that is life giving. My hope is that you have parents, friends, or loved ones who will fill this role, but my prayer is that you will trust God to do it above all else.
I don't say this to take away from the power and depth of the incredible human relationships we form, but I know they can be shaky at times. How do I know? Because I am one (a human that is). We can be moody, unreliable, needy, selfish, aloof, hard to read, and just plain nasty. If you've never been these things then you can add "sometimes doesn't tell the truth" to the list too. We need that person we can go to in our time of need that never changes, never turns us away, never tires of hearing our woes, and literally knows us better than we know ourselves. Christ is that person. "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched - this we proclaim concerning the Word of life." (1 John 1:1) John is speaking of Jesus. The same Jesus from Revelation 1:8 who was, and is, and is to come. Constant.
When you read the famous love chapter 1 Corinthians 13, you'll gain incredible insight into how God intended love to be. It's how He loves and it screams consistency! Have you ever heard a story of someone who has lived a life apart from God, yet in their time of need at the bottom of the barrel, they cried out to Him and He was right there? Maybe that was you? It can be any of us and that doesn't change God's love one bit.
I want to tell you about a brief encounter I had the other day with a neighbor boy that sparked this whole line of thinking and inspired me to write this. As I mentioned before, change has been swirling around my family for months now and I caught a glimpse of God's "constant" nature the other day that gave me peace. I had just finished my run like I do most mornings and was walking the final block to my house to cool down when one of the young 10 year old boys who my son pals around with flung open the door to his house shortly after I walked by. He scurried onto the porch in his socks, shot up his hand and excitedly waived it back and forth to get my attention and yelled, "Hi Joe!". I turned my head and waived back. As soon as we made eye contact and he knew that I had seen him, just as quickly as he had emerged, he flew back into the house, closed the door and was gone. That was it. That was all.
I could't help but smile at the interaction. I realized the only thing this young boy wanted was to express to me that he had seen me and to affirm our relationship. There was no other agenda and it was refreshing. Even more than that, I understood that he dropped what he was doing just to run out in his socks and essentially tell me, "I see you!" How many times do we see a neighbor walk by our window and we can't be bothered to get up to say "hi"? Or how many times do we duck down another aisle in the grocery store when we see someone we know because we can't be inconvenienced and are on a tight schedule? I've done it, you've done it, we've all done it. But not God. He will drop everything and get his socks dirty just to acknowledge you. God has no agenda other than to love you and extend a free invitation to love Him back. Whether we know it or not, this is the constant we need when life feels crazy. I hope you've felt the safety of a mother or father as they lock eyes with you in your time of need where you know they understand exactly how you feel. But I pray you open yourself to a relationship with the most loving God, our Father in Heaven who wants you to hear these words today..."I see you."