We are visiting my husband’s family, all of us on the edge of the continent known as the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Only a few rows of houses from the beach, we can hear the roar of the ocean waves and feel the breeze off the Atlantic. Right now, though, I am on the other side of the house, on the patio (of course) in the morning. Not much breeze on this side, except for the fan, and the morning dew is so thick that it’s dripping off the roof.
The view here, on both sides of the house is considerable different from Missouri, definitely “not home”. These are not the same people jogging, walking and riding bikes along the street and sidewalk. Back home I see Sherry as she strolls up Central Street on her way to work. Back home I see waving prairie grasses and bison, not cresting waves and beachcombers. In my county I see bass and catfish and perch jumping out of the lakes, not dolphins arching up from the ocean. At our local park I see turtles sunning themselves on the logs, instead of jellyfish remains drying up on the white sand.
Then I hear it—the call of the catbird, that unmistakable feline sound, easily identified even by my untrained ear. And I am reminded that, though I may not be in my familiar territory, God is still here. And everywhere, His voice is the same, immutable, unmistakable.
We are told that we go through seasons of life, rites of passage, some of which are culturally induced although some are admittedly universal. Personally, I feel almost that my “seasons” have been more like “spasms”—can anyone relate? Nevertheless, we move from one set of experiences inexorably into another. Not only do we have to navigate from childhood through adolescence and into adulthood—emotionally as well as physically—but we also have other times of joy and struggle:
- School—most of us in the United States have been blessed with the availability of public education, and many of us are still impacted by memories and experiences of those infamous junior high years.
- Moves—more and more frequently in the past several decades of our society have we seen the increase in the mobility of families. In the past, if you were a military family, that was a given. Now, however, it may seem quite unusual in many places for any child to start kindergarten and graduate from high school in the same place.
- Relationships—marriage, child-rearing, child-releasing. You just have to “be there” to really understand this one…
- Collateral damage—it is also becoming somewhat unusual to see family members that all have the same last name. Blended families, whether from death or divorce, bring special challenges all their own.
Certainly there are many, many more examples that could added to this list, times when being resilient and flexible can be most helpful. While resiliency is an essential quality to cultivate so as to survive and thrive this side of Heaven, true resiliency can only happen when there remains a stable reference point. Elastic is very resilient, but to retain that characteristic, it must have a place to snap back to. Flexibility is a good thing, but flexibility cannot even be defined unless there is a starting point from which to measure it. (At least, that’s what it seems like when my daughters try to teach me some yoga or Palate moves! Ouch!)
In a world of changes and challenges, of unfamiliar circumstances and scary possibilities, God has said that even though the heavens and the earth pass away, His word would never do so. (1) He also says that He, as God of the Universe, does not change. (2) He promises that He is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. (3) Only with God can we find the perfect interconnection with resiliency and immutability, between flexibility and stability. Only in relationship with Him can we properly define our starting point and make it safely to the end.
Another one of these “seasons” is yet upon me, and although its unrelenting hold has become more gentle, I am aware that the hold of the Father has never changed. He is aware of this time in my life, anticipated it for me, knew the particulars would be unfamiliar, and sometimes unfriendly, to me.
And He sent me His catbird to remind me of His unchanging and unfailing presence, no matter where I am on earth, or in life.
- Luke 21:33
- Malachi 3:6
- Hebrews 13:8
(Excerpt from God Loves Birds, by Dawn Jones)