By Randi Peck
“Mom, the moon is following us!” My three-year-old daughter, Myla, excitedly announced this perceived observation, one evening, from the backseat of the car.
I remember having this same conversation with my parents, when I was around her age. Eventually, of course, I learned that the Lunar Stalker is merely an illusion. And as a scientific explanation was offered to me, whether I understood it or not, I accepted that no, the moon is not following me. I was the one moving.
But I confess that at times it’s easier to believe what I’m told about the starry heavens that I can view from afar, than it is to believe what the Word says about the invisible Heavenly Maker.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Heb 13:8)
The Bible says God is unchanging, immutable. But I would guess that anyone who’s truly rested the weight of their life on Christ, has also directed these words at him:
“You’re not who I thought you were…”
At times, these words are spoken through tears of wonder; whispered upon revelations of his kindness.
But more often, I would guess, they are flung in accusation; they are wondered in sincere confusion, sadness, and pain…
For we will inevitably walk through seasons of seeing God one way, and then another. The faithfulness we once firmly stood upon, seems to start shaking under our feet. And the love that was once tangible and powerful, begins to feel distant and fabricated.
When we commit our lives to Christ, we hold a particular image, in our minds, of who he is; we forge a specific idea of how he acts.
Now, thankfully, the only prerequisite to our salvation is the realization and acceptance that we desperately need Jesus as our Savior! But unfortunately, that leaves a lot of room for error, as far as the rest of the image that we’ve conjured up…
We may assume that Christianity implies a life of earthly success and prosperity…
Or that God is going to protect us from all suffering…
Or maybe that the experiential aspect of our faith- the “feel-good” moments- are the proof of God’s love…
Whatever our misconceptions may be, they are often subconscious and hidden, until we are wrung in the strainer of life. Until the night of the soul washes up doubt and confusion. And until inevitable suffering stirs up questions as more than hypothetical.
John Piper describes our theology as one giant puzzle. When hard questions are birthed, unexpectedly, it is as though one of these puzzle pieces is removed from our “picture” of how we perceive God. And although, in the grand scheme of things, the piece is only one of many, and can be repositioned for a more accurate picture— in the meantime, it causes the rest of the puzzle to shift and shake. Our whole faith starts to feel weak and wavering.
So we wonder:
If God is unchanging…
If He is the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change (James 1:17)…
Then why does it feel like our whole faith is falling apart?? Why are we drowning in the shadows??
Tony Evans, in his book The Power of the Names of God, explains it this way:
“Despite [the sun’s] changelessness, a shifting shadow is associated with the sun. It is called nighttime… We experience darkness even though the sun hasn’t changed because as the earth turns away from the sun, we enter into a shadow.”
When we feel that the Good Father is walking away from us or being untrue to his character, the reality is, Evans says, “He hasn’t changed; our experience of him has just adjusted to our turn.”
So perhaps you wonder, like I so often do, then why would the Lord leave us in the shadows?
Because. Because we’re so like my little girl, looking up at that big moon and miscalculating its orbit.
We’re so quick to jump to conclusions. To compare God to our puny, mortal selves. And to file doctrines and theology into easy to reach, easy to understand locations. Locations that are easy to grab hold of and wrap our minds around.
But God is bigger than our internal filing system. His thoughts are infinitely higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). And even as there must come a day for Miss Myla to discover that the moon is not leaving its proper place to play chase with her— and never really was— we, too, must be shifted from our faulty views of God.
These shifting seasons of our lives are painful, at times, and disorienting— but they are not void of purpose. God has ordained them, that our faith would grow stronger and our image of him more true and glorious.
He has specifically gifted us his Word so that, even when our emotions are misfiring, our mind can be renewed and our heart reminded of who he always is.
Even in seasons of questioning and confusion, we can rejoice in the revelation that Christ is bringing us to a deeper understanding of who he is. And who he is good. Like the Man on the Moon, the God we serve does not deviate from his trajectory. The immutable God is not adjusting his orbit to our feats and failures. His faithfulness and holiness have never and will never veer off course.
“I am the man who has seen affliction under the rod of his wrath; he has driven and brought me into darkness without any light…
But this I call into mind, and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end.”