Estimated reading time: 5 minutes:-)
So much has been changing and moving the last few weeks.
My theology teacher warned us during the last few days of school that we’d go through a mourning process over the summer. The previous season of life in high school has suddenly ended, and we’re now pushed into an entirely new way of life. All within a few short weeks.
Their are five stages to grief, but my theology teacher added a sixth right at the beginning: shock. The process would then go from shock to denial, to anger, to bargaining, to depression, and lastly to acceptance. I think I’m in that shocked stage right now.
I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster the last month. I’ve had days when I can’t stop crying, like the last day of classes or our last performance. I’ve had days when I can’t stop smiling, like senior blessings night or graduation day. I’ve had days when I’m going 100 miles an hour and don’t stop to sit in silence until I’m laying in my bed. And I’ve had days when all the craziness dies down for a moment, and I look around with a ringing in my ears, completely shell-shocked at the roller coaster I’ve been on.
But through all the change, there’s been a resounding theme.
I remember my first day of high school. I was homeschooled up until then, so it was actually my first day of school ever. My first class of the day was theology with Mr. Black. I remember sprinting to class with at least five minutes to spare because I had no sense of time as a fourteen year old. I sat down in my seat, right at the front, panting and trying to keep my adrenaline under control.
Class started in a few minutes. But instead of passing out a syllabus like a normal teacher might, Mr. Black stood up from his desk and pointed at me. Then, as the eyes of thirty freshmen trained on me, he promptly asked, “do you believe in God?”
“Well, yes,” I said, a wave of adrenaline engulfing me.
“How do you know he’s real?” Mr. Black pressed.
“Uhh…” To this day, this is one of the most terrifying moments of my life. “From personal experience. He’s worked miracles in my life, and we talk I guess.”
Mr. Black just looked at me, a classroom full of freshmen staring down at my tiny, awkward, fourteen year old self.
“Okay, but how do you know?”
Turns out, that question has shaped all four years of my high school experience. That question has determined my course of life. That question has challenged me like no other. And it all started my first day at Lutheran.
I now know the answer to that question, and I have a much better response than “we talk I guess.” I’ve developed a confidence in Christ that just keeps growing as the days go by. But that is a discussion for another time. I mainly bring up this story to show that God doesn’t change.
Think back to a time in your life when you doubted God the greatest. Maybe you didn’t believe in Him. Maybe you hated Him even. Maybe you still do. I think back to the day I was born, didn’t know what the heck was going on except that I was hungry and mad at being in the world. I think back to when I was a kid, didn’t go to church, didn’t know hardly anything about Jesus other than the Easter story. I also think back to freshman year, when I thought I had everything figured out, but really didn’t know half the story.
Think about this: Jesus was the same that day you hated Him the most as He is today.
Jesus loved you just as much even when you didn’t know what love was.
For those of you facing all the changes like me, this should be so comforting.
Everything in your life could change–your job could shift, you friends could move to college, your family could fall apart, your boyfriend or girlfriend could break up with you, you could move away, you could become injured and lose everything, you could lose someone–but Jesus is the one thing you’ll never lose. Jesus is the one who will never change. And Jesus is the one who fulfills, saves, and draws close to us all.
I think, as humans, this is hard to believe. It can be easy to frame Jesus with our feelings, because as Americans, we value how we feel so highly. When we feel guilty, we think Jesus is ashamed of us. When we feel like failures, we assume Jesus is disappointed in us. When we feel like we’ve done something awesome, we think Jesus loves us more.
This simply isn’t true.
Jesus’s love for you doesn’t change based on how you’re feeling or what you’ve done. He doesn’t love you any more the day you go to church than he does the day you’re off partying.
Of course, this isn’t to excuse or enable bad behavior. But I want you to understand that God’s love for you doesn’t change.
Malachi 3:6 says, “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.”
And the more common Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
A lot of things are changing, and it can be scary. But Jesus’s love for you isn’t one of them. And this allows you to step into this next season fearlessly and confidently, because you are tethered to the unchanging love of your savior.
Joshua 1:9 says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Don’t be afraid. Celebrate in the changing because you can hold fast to the one who never changes, who also happens to be the one who loves you more than you could ever imagine.
This is one of my all time favorite songs. I wanted to feature it today because it brings immense comfort in times of change or uncertainty. Listen to it like Jesus is writing a love letter to you: “I loved you before you knew what was love.”