I’m struck by the fact that things seem to be at once permanent and impermanent. They appear constant and beyond our ability to alter but actually, they’re already and always changing. Driving taught me this lesson.
Like many of you, I commute several times a week. Sometimes, like early Sunday mornings, the roads are barren for long stretches, but during rush hour, well, I have to pay closer attention!
Especially in heavy traffic, I dislike being in the wrong lane when I’m approaching a ramp or a corner. It’s stressful to have to worry about merging or changing lanes before I run out of room. Far more relaxing to get in the proper lane as early as possible and stay there, even if it’s slower.
Yet I’ve also noticed that traffic conditions aren’t fixed. A space in a congested street opens up without my help; a car blocking me from changing lanes moves past in just a short time.
But it’s not only traffic patterns. We joke in Wisconsin: “What, you don’t like the weather? Just wait five minutes and it’ll change!”
And has a friend, relative, or coworker ever been polite one minute, pushed you away the next, and then smiled later on? Where was this person’s head at? Hard to tell!
Through these experiences, I glean that nothing is static. Things change, people change. In the words of the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus, “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”
The Bible says as much, too. Paul warned Christians that “this world in its present form is passing away.” And James reminded believers that “you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”
Yet our hearts continue to pine for durability. “Real love,” as Pastor Tim Keller points out, “instinctively desires permanence.”
It’s found in God: “In the beginning, Lord, You laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But You remain the same, and Your years will never end.”
Maybe “you can’t step in the same river twice.” Perhaps “you can’t step in the same river once.” But my soul feels lighter as I’ve eased my expectations about circumstances and retreated from demanding consistency from people.
Look to the Lord and, as promised, “He will be the stability of your times.”