Monday, November 26, 2007

The More Things Change, The More He Stays The Same

After reading everyone's blogs over the past week, I noticed a recurring theme - thanksgiving ('tis the season). Everyone listed things they are thankful for (well, everyone except me - there isn't enough space on the internet to list everything I am thankful for). Like everyone else, I am so thankful for my family- the kids, the hubs, etc. I am thankful for our home and our church. But, the other day I was thinking about what I am MOST thankful for. After much thought and consideration, I have decided that I am most thankful for God's grace and for the fact that He never changes. In other words, I am thankful that I accepted His gift of grace and I am even more thankful that He will never take it back no matter what I do (because I have done some seriously stupid things in my life). If anyone deserves to have their grace revoked it is me, but He says that I cannot be snatched from His hand. I am safely held in the hand of God and nothing can change that.

When I was in college I took a class in post modern art. I can't remember the exact name of the class, but I remember it was very boring to me. I would love to say that I took that class out of my great appreciation for the arts, but the truth is I had to have another class to graduate and this art class was the only one that fit my schedule. Even though I was bored to tears most of the time, I did learn quite alot about art and ancient construction. One thing I remember talking about in class was how women in times past were viewed by the world. The most interesting thing to me is that women in the 1600's were seen as poor and destitute if they were not at least slightly overweight. I like to refer to the 1600's as 'the good old days'. I am telling ya if I had been alive back then people would have thought I was a billionaire! In those days, it was acutally seen as stylish to have belly fat! Oh, how I long for the good old days. My how things change! If you think about it, change is not only inevitable in our society, it is very prevalent.

Back in the 1600's it may have been seen as a good thing to be overweight, but today if you aren't stick thin you are overweight -- and today overweight is not seen as a good thing (which is why I would love to get rid of about 15 pounds, but whatever....). I remember when it was bad for your health to drink coffee and eat red meat and eggs. Now we hear that all those things are good for you (in moderation of course---again -whatever!). When I was in high school big hair was popular. I had seriously big hair - I mean 'wall 'o hair'! Then in early 2000 (maybe sooner for some of you - word travels slow to the south) it became popular to nix the big hair and make it as flat as possible. I would love to say that I love the 'flat hair' look, but I will always love big hair. I straighten my hair but only before a good teasing - sorry, I am a creature of habit. I am sure that at some point in my life, big hair will be 'in' again (at which time I will rejoice with thanksgiving in my heart because I say the bigger the hair the smaller your hips look).

Remember when skinny jeans were all the rage? Then flared, boot cut, and now skinny is back. (Fashion is cyclical- The problem is that some fashions were terrible in the first place and should never be brought back, but I digress..... ) In the 70's big cars (land yachts) were popular, then in the 80's it was the compact car, now we all have SUV's. I remember when I was little, we always sung hymns from a hymnal at church. Now churches all have huge screens from which we sing 7/11 songs (seven words sung over and over 11 times) or praise and worship music. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE those praise and worship songs - I am merely pointing out how even our church services have changed over the past 20 years.

Not only does our hair, makeup, clothing, etc. change constantly, but our relationships change over time as well. My relationship with Steve is much different today than it was 8 years ago when we got married. We are more comfortable with each other now than we were then. Back then, we were 'on our best behavior' now we are much more relaxed together. We arent trying to impress anymore - thank you, Jesus. I am not good at 'putting on' - I am a "what you see is what you get" kind of girl, so impressing is not in my nature normally. My relationship with my mother is also totally different now than it was when I was a teenager. I actually like her now - she really is smart - who knew? Even my relationship with the Lord is much different now than it was when I was saved at the age of 14.

When I got saved, I was truly filled with the joy and peaces that passes all understanding. I was on cloud nine and on fire for God. Over the next few years I became less and less on fire and more and more like smoldering ashes. I was far away from the joy and knee-deep (okay, over my head) in the world. Then one day it hit me that I was living like the devil and I turned back to my first Love. A few years later, I was again living a worldy, sinful life (I can't even think about it without cringing). Then after a season of sin and living like, well, living like hell, I repented and began to walk closely with the Lord again. I am determined not to waffle back and forth or waver in my faith like that ever again, because I know what it is to be at rock bottom in my walk with the Lord (and in life) and I never want to go there again. There is nothing worse than knowing that God is disappointed in you - NOTHING! You see, I was in a deep pit of sin. I was so engrossed in my sin that I justified it and glorified it to others. I was so far gone that I didnt even know I was disappointing God. I was a terrible witness for the Lord, but He loved me anyway. Like Paul said, we need to check ourselves often. We need to ask ourselves if we are really living for the Lord and if we are following after Him in the way He asked us to. Sometimes we are in a pit of sin and we dont even know it. Sometimes, we let the world get a foothold in our lives and we dont even see ourselves pushing God out. Sometimes, little sins lead to lives led without the Holy Spirit-- maybe we arent living outwardly sinful lives, but are living inwardly disobedient lives (that is a whole other post).

As I look back over all my changing hairstyles, clothes, relationships I see one constant - Jesus Christ. No matter how many times I have changed, He has always been there and always been the same. He watched in the 80's as I had the sides of my hair cut thus producing a mullet-like effect and He didnt care. He has seen all my fashion triumphs and disasters and He still thinks I am beautiful. He has seen all the stupid things I have done (trust me there are many stupid things I have done) and He forgives me. He looked down into my pit of sin and saw me at my worst and loved me anyway. He has seen me in places that I shouldn't have been doing things I shouldn't have done and when I asked to come home He welcomed me back with love.

The world changes everyday - a million times a day. The world has much different expectations for us than God does. The world expects us to have the best, look the best, be the best, but God says believe in me, love me, and I will take care of you. God says that His children are beautiful no matter what we look like to the world. He tell us to be in the world, but not of the world - which I have found at times easy for me to say, but tough to live. It is difficult not to let the world dictate how we look - I mean who WANTS to be an out of style, outdated frump? No one! The problem is that we easily get caught up in believeing what the world says about us instead of remembering what God says about us. We were made in His likeness and that is what makes us beautiful - not what we wear, what we drive, where we live, how we do our hair, etc. etc.

Hebrews 13:8 says "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever". The Bible says His mercies are new every morning (and I really need those new mercies - I mean really). He loved me when I was born, He loved me when I was born-again, and He loved me when I was in the pit. God's grace never changes - God never changes. In a time when it seems like the world is spinning out of control, we have peace in knowing that the world is never out of His control. In an unstable time, we have complete stability in Jesus Christ. And that, my friends, is something to be forever thankful for.


Stephanie (Ocean Mommy) said...

Amen and Amen!

Good word!


Fran said...

Oh I'm coming back to this and reading again. Very good word.
Thank you Jesus for staying the same.


Denise said...

Yeah for big hair! Yes,I too straighten,and flatten (cuz it's the thing) but am a teaser and lover of big hair on the inside.
It was sweet to think on the ways that God does not change, even in all our changes. Isn't it wonderful to have a Constant God.

Alana said...

So, so true. Thanks for sharing these thoughts, Bethanne!

Earen said...

OH, I loved big hair too! Gone are the days yet sometimes I do tease it a bit! Great posting & such a good reminder to focus on what the Lord thinks about us because that's truly all that matters.

I'm Tara. said...

Oh, BethAnne -- WHY do you live there??? You completely crack me up with your big hair and calling the 1600's the good ol' days. Such a nut!!

What a great, great, GREAT thing to be thankful for. What a goob I am for not yet having that very thing on my list. On the TOP of my list. For using it every day all month long!!!

As usual, thanks for the encouragement, sister girl.

Emily said...

Hmmm...This post has got me thinkin" (I'm in the South as well!)
What a great post, exactly where I have been with God lately.