The More Things Change…

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You’ve heard the saying “the more things change, the more they stay the same”?

Allow me to catch you up on what God’s been doing in my life for the last six-plus months. When I do, and when I share one of the many lessons He’s taught me through all of it, you’ll see why I titled this devotion what I did.

On June 20 of last year, I accepted a position as the third-grade Spanish Immersion teacher at a nearby school in my local school district. I had taught before, but never for a public school, and never with an elementary-level focus. But my husband and I believed that getting a job at all, and accepting this job in particular, was God’s plan for me and for our family.

For the rest of the summer, I prepared to teach. I continued my online coursework toward my teaching certificate; I consulted friends who are teachers for tips on classroom management; I bought things for my classroom; I attended approximately 80 hours of training; I prayed and thought and planned some more.

It turned out that school was not at all what I had thought it would be. For the first two weeks, I cried every time I thought about having to go to work. God and I had some honest, raw conversations during this time and in the following weeks.

Then, in the middle of October, my beloved stepmother, who had turned just 61 years old a few days before, died suddenly and unexpectedly of a heart attack. I was devastated. Since then, I’ve experienced not only grief that flares up when I’m least prepared for it, but family issues related to my dad’s health and finances.

At first, it seemed that my life had changed a lot in the past six-plus months. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that what truly constitutes my life hadn’t changed at all.

According to the words that came from the very mouth of Jesus, true life now, and always has, consisted of knowing God. In another place, Jesus made it clear that the only things God wants from me are to know and love Him, and to pour out His love on anyone He puts in my path as my neighbor. This is true life, Jesus said, and that hasn’t changed in the past six months. Nor will it ever.

No matter where I work, my purpose for working there will be to love the people I serve. My comfort level at my job has nothing to do with what constitutes life.

Similarly, whether I’m surrounded by my loved ones until the day I die, or whether some of them depart this earth before I do, my best and most loving relationship will always be found with God. I can enjoy my earthly relationships with others, but they aren’t my life.

Circumstances can change in a heartbeat, or in the cessation of one. They’re shifting sand. My life—what fulfills me, what brings me the best and highest joy—is now, and always has been, loving and being loved by God Himself, and sharing His love with those around me.

Yes, I would love to have a job that’s comfortable and easy every moment of every day. Yes, I would love to have my stepmother back for just one more day, one more phone call, one more text, even.

But even if I could….

Even if I could, what matters most in life wouldn’t change. My circumstances would change, yes. My level of joy? Oh, yes. At least temporarily.

But not what constitutes true life for me. Because true life is God, and He never changes.

I’ll go on trying to make positive changes at school. I’ll continue to miss Sheryl every single day. But I will refuse to believe that true life is found in the absence of distress or the presence of whatever, or whomever, I desire. Instead, I will do my imperfect best to live out the truth to anyone who might be watching that God is enough for me, now and forevermore.

The more the details change, the more what really matters, stays the same.

In that, I am comforted. In that, I truly live.

John 17:3—Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (NIV)

Luke 10:27—He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (NIV)

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