Time is a funny thing. Sometimes it goes too fast. Other times, it seems to drag at a snail’s pace. We cannot control it, but often we want to. We try to manage it, and sometimes it gets the best of us. The seasons come, and the seasons go. And, as my mother says, “time marches on, and we go with it.”
Similar things can be said for change. Sometimes we think we want it, and then when it comes, we long for what used to be. Change is both appealing and frightening. We yearn for it, sometimes even crave it, and then when it happens, we say things like, “well, I wanted change, but this wasn’t what I had in mind.”
Time and change. They often go hand-in-hand, get layered on top of each other and mixed together like either a tasty stew or a muddy mess.
This past weekend, I was immersed in the realities of time and change. I went to see and hear my oldest daughter sing in her first major college concert. During the concert, I was thinking how quickly the time had gone. Wasn’t it only yesterday that she was a terrified three-year-old running off the stage at a church Christmas program? And now, here she was, carrying the sopranos in a collegiate choir. Time passes, and things change. Time and change.
While I was “back home,” I also spent some time on our family farm. Five generations of my family have walked that land. Livestock has come and gone. Prairie has been tilled, planted, and returned to native grasses and trees. Buildings have sprung up and been torn down, and now the barn — our beloved barn — is sagging toward the earth. It was built in the late 1800’s. In its prime, it housed cattle, hogs, a couple of horses, and a much cared for flock of sheep. At least three generations of kids played “king of the world in the haymow,” but now the barn is tired. Horses helped build it, and bulldozers will haul it away. Time passes, and things change. Time and change.
But that wasn’t all. Our long weekend away also included two college visits for my youngest. How can that be possible? I hung back as she walked around two beautiful campuses, asking her questions, comporting herself with grace and poise, acting very much like the emerging adult that she is swiftly becoming. When did she become so confident? Time passes, and things change. Time and change. My mother really is right, time does march on, and we do go with it.
Such experiences and reflections can be unsettling. It can be difficult to know how to be when it feels like the ground is shifting beneath your feet, or that time is moving like a river running full. Amid the passage of time and the inevitable change that it brings, how can we keep from being overwhelmed? On what can we depend?
The book of Hebrews in the Christian Scriptures tells us that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). I take great comfort in that promise. The same Jesus who revealed God’s love all those centuries ago when he walked and talked, taught and healed, lived, died, and rose again – that same Jesus loved my early family of settlers, loved my parents and our family through life on our farm, loves my daughters as they become who they are called and created to be, loves you, me — all of us — with an everlasting love that not only stands the test of time and weathers change, but carries us through all that time and change will bring.
By the time that you read this, I presume that the election cycle of 2016 will be over. Time will have passed, and regardless of who has come out victorious, there will be change. Whether you perceive that change to be good or bad, right or wrong, we do well to remember that God is bigger than all of it. God is bigger than this election cycle. God is bigger than the changes we face as a nation. God is bigger than the changes we encounter in our personal lives. Because you see, God, after all, is God.
On that, my dear friends, we can trust and depend, even as, and maybe especially as, time marches on and things change.
Nov. 9, 2016
Rev. James A. Wetzstein and Rev. Charlene M. Rachuy Cox serve as university pastors at Valpo and take turns writing weekly reflections.