Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17)
My dad passed away some years ago. One of the things I miss about him is how I never needed to worry about my relationship with him. He never varied. He was always happy to see me; he’d open his arms to embrace me and tell me he loved me, as if not a day had passed since the last time we were together. In all my ups and downs in life, he rarely lost his temper, and even when he did, it wasn’t for long. I realize that I wasn’t as consistent; sometimes I wasn’t in touch for long stretches, and I did plenty of things to cause a parent frustration. But I knew he was always there for me, and nothing could change how he felt.
It’s rare to have someone like that in our lives, and it’s one of the reasons why we hide who we are from others. Sometimes we’re caught in a cycle where we make mistake after mistake. But we can’t let people see that, because they’ll think badly of us. We’re afraid they will reject us. The fact is that people aren’t consistent, and we do lose relationships if we disappoint people. So we don’t let people in, and we think that if someone really could see all our flaws, they wouldn’t love us. We manage our relationships by refusing to be real with people.
People change because they are still growing. They are less than they should be. Some change for the better, some for the worse. But God is perfect. He can only be himself. He loves you and nothing you do can change that. So when we put our lives into his hands, we know he won’t leave us. He knows us and has a life for us; not the one we are told to go after, by this world, but the one he wants for us, with all the good things he desires for our lives. He meets us wherever we are at. He accepts us with our failures and flaws. But he doesn’t want to leave us there. He wants to lead us to a new place in our lives where we can know him better, and experience more of his power and blessing.
These are things we doubt about him, though. We think he doesn’t care about us. During difficult times, we think he’s abandoned us. A lot of people think of God as something impersonal—someone who is uninterested in our lives. Or we think he can’t have a plan for our lives, or else things would be going a lot better. Or we think he couldn’t know us and love us, that we’re too messed up. Or that he’s just like any other person, who changes their mind. We think that he’s mad at us because we made a mistake of some kind. All of these are true of people, sometimes, in our lives. People do let us down. It’s one of the sad things about life, that we do that to each other. But that’s not God.
James was writing to a church in Jerusalem that was struggling and felt abandoned by God. Maybe they thought he had changed, or that they were no longer entitled to his blessings. James assures them that the same God who creates the stars in the sky (the heavenly lights) is the one who loves them and will never change. He is our Father, and nothing can change the love he has for us.
That’s who he is, who he’s always been. Wherever you’re at, he’s right there, waiting for you. So the question then is, do we want the empty lives we’re living, or do we want the abundant life he planned for us? Are you done living moment by moment, and want to put your feet on the journey he has for you? You can believe that life is the thing you’ve been told by the world, that you’re on your own, and keep trying to find something better under your own power, or you can open your arms and grab on to the one who made you. He’s there waiting, and has never left you.