Thursday, December 8, 2011

Something Familiar To Hold On To

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”   James 1:17 (KJV)

No shadow of turning.  Isn’t that a wonderful, consoling thought?  There is not even a shadow of turning in our God.  He doesn’t change.  He is a constant, consistent force of something familiar!  We can hold to His unchanging hand through every storm and valley of our lives, knowing He will remain the same, unchanging God.  What a blessed hope that is in our ever-changing world!

I cried tonight….well, actually, I should say I sobbed.  I don’t like change, and I don’t deal with it well.  Something that has been routine in our lives and brought a lot of comfort to me through some very hard places, is changing.  It is no longer going to be a part of our lives.  That hurts.  Way down deep inside.  I find it hard to let go, even though I know life will go on, and there will be other things to fill its spot.  But, it won’t be exactly the same, and that fills me with a deep sadness. 

I’ve always been very sentimental, so familiar things have always been very precious to me.  As we unpack our Christmas collections each year, so many happy memories come to mind.  One of my most poignant recollections happens when I spot a particular angel.  It is made out of shiny, satin-type pieces of cord that wind around in a circular shape to form its head, then the remainder of the cords hang down, individually, to form its body.  It was given to me several years ago…I am not even sure by whom, at this point, but the purpose it served one Christmas Eve will be forever etched in my mind.  It happened eleven years ago, when I was seven days past my due date for giving birth to Zachary. 

One of the lessons the midwives had taught me during pregnancy was that when I went into labor, it would help to find something to hold on to, preferably something that contained multiple things to count.  As the contractions came and went, they said to count the items, and it would take my mind off the pain.  I remember sitting in our living room when my full-blown labor began and picking up this special angel to be my “thing to hold on to”.  It seemed like a simple plan, and as my contractions became more intense, I held the angel, and I counted its individual cords time after time after time.  It comforted me, in some way, just to hold on to one thing that was mine and focus.  I will never forget that lesson.  Each year, when I take my angel out of the crate, I tell Zach the story one more time.

My childhood was unstable and unsettled, in many ways, so I guess maybe I seek for that one thing to hold on to a little more than the average person.  In my seeking, I find that I look for the familiar.  Things that bring back memories.  Things that make me remember and feel a connection to the past.  We all need familiarity in our lives.  Things that have been consistent and unchanging. 

If God spares time and our lives, Kevin and I will celebrate our 24th wedding anniversary next June.  I often tell him how much I appreciate him and the fact that he has been there through so many stages of my life.  We have been married for over half of my years lived so far.  What a blessing!  I don’t have to explain much of my life to him, because he was there when it happened.  My history is our history.  He has walked with me through the best and the worst of times.  He has cried with me, laughed with me, prayed with me, and been my faithful supporter and best friend.  He is a constant, steady force that I turn to for strength time after time, and I take deep comfort in the familiarity that a life lived together has brought.

One of my bosses used to say, “Cheryl, the only thing consistent in life is change.”  There is a lot of truth to that.  Marriages and relationships seem to have fallen prey to this mindset and they have almost become disposable, it seems.  I have even been hearing of the “trial” marriages that are being considered, where you don’t make a lifetime, “til-death-do-you-part” commitment to a person…just a two year “try-out”, to see if it works. 

When I hear things like this, I find it very, very sad.  Not only because it is in direct contrast to God’s perfect plan laid out in His Word, but also because of the lack of stability it creates in our society.  Those who take their relationships so lightly, never realize the deep joy and comfort that comes from staying with the same person for a lifetime.  There is a great sense of security in building a life with one person and being faithful to the commitment made to one another.  Familiarity takes time.  It doesn’t happen overnight, and some of the fly-by-night relationships of our modern times don’t even have time to develop this valuable treasure.

I love thinking about the faithfulness and consistency of the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Esther, Ruth and so many others, and how He chooses to condescend to a place of familiarity with those who love Him and want to serve Him.  And what joy to know that this great God is also MY God.  Others have developed their own history with Him, and so have I.  He has never changed down through the years of time, and He never will. 

One of my favorite songs is the old hymn written by Thomas Chisolm called
“Great is Thy Faithfulness”.  You can listen to Fernando Ortega’s version at:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yN44tOis9hc

Here are the beautiful words….

Verse One

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.

Chorus

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Verse Two

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Verse Three

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

 Do you know Him?  This great unchanging God?  Do you long for familiarity in your life?  Something trusted to hold on to?  Something that remains constant in our fast-changing world?  Get personally acquainted and intimately involved with this great God of Heaven.  Talk to Him daily.  Read His Word.  Meditate upon it, and allow it to sink deep into your soul.  Allow Him to become your "something familiar to hold on to".  Trust Him, hold on tight to His hand, and don’t let go.  I can promise you that He never will.

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