From My Heart

For The Love of Change: Everlasting Stretch

Every year I purchase a new journal to fill with stories of God’s goodness. I like a certain type of journal from Christian Art Gifts- with soft, imitation leather in red or purple or turquoise, a small size that tucks nicely into a tote bag or purse, thick white lined pages that provide a landing place for my colored pens {Staedtler fine liners from Germany are my favourite}, and pages with Scripture verses at the bottom, which seem to always correspond amazingly with whatever I’m writing about. This year I chose a turquoise journal with Jeremiah 31:3 on the front:

“I have loved you with an everlasting love.” 

“Hmmm,” I thought, “that seems appropriate for the eventful year I’ve just stepped into.”

Even before the calendar turned the corner into the new year, the deepest parts of my soul began to feel restless. During one particularly restless evening, I said to my husband, “I think I’m starting to feel the emotions of all the change coming in our lives this year.”

This year will bring massive changes, and just the ones we know about are both exciting and daunting in themselves. An international move looms before us, and no doubt this is the most significant part of my restlessness. I’m not a stranger to international moves, having done them twice. I’m not a stranger to culture shock, although this year will bring a different sort of culture shock. But sometimes knowing some of what to expect makes the change a bit harder to navigate, and this is the case for me. I rather dread the emotional roller coaster of transition and of culture shock, not to mention the huge endeavor of packing a house and then a container to be shipped across the sea. I also feel concerned about shepherding my children through these changes, which will no doubt prove to be harder for them than they expect. And, because I’m also “mother” to an almost 14 year old cat and a 2 year old dog, both whom we all adore, I feel concerned about navigating them across the sea into a new dwelling as well.

Then there’s ministry….transitioning into church planting in a foreign country (again) occupies my thoughts as well, as I ask God to prepare my heart for a new type of pastoral ministry.

I don’t know what change you are facing this year. Maybe you know about it, and you are excited and nervous. Maybe you are dreading it, and you feel a cloud above you. Maybe you have no idea what changes will come, but you know that something will change in your life, as it always does.

Because life is alive, life is always changing.

Which is why Jeremiah 31:1 jumped at me during my perusal to find a new journal. Not coincidentally, shortly after I chose my journal, I came upon this very verse while reading my first book of the year, Girl Meets Change. Author Kristen Strong, a friend of mine, shares the meaning of the Hebrew word “everlasting.” It means “continuance, eternal, perpetual.” Further still it means “the most distant point of view” and “what is beyond the horizon, a very distant time.”

My heart smiled. This everlasting love stretches from eternity past, beginning before time for me, long before I was even thought of. This everlasting love hovers in the present, existing right now for me, even when I’m not aware of it. And this everlasting love stretches into the future of endless time, available and waiting for me, in moments that I don’t even know about yet.

It’s waiting for me in the changes I know I will face this year.

What a comfort! When I think of the cross, this love becomes even more precious. Jesus experienced God turning His back on Him, because of my sin. Because He endured this absence of favor, we never have to.

We live in the reality of the endless stretching of His everlasting love- from eternity past and into eternity future. It’s not like a piece of brittle taffy or chewing gum, destined to break at any moment and create a gap. It’s like a strand of DNA, stretching and wrapping around the earth multiple times, forming a strong cord that is part of our identity in Christ.

If this everlasting love feels hard to understand, you’ve just pulled up a chair beside me. I don’t pretend to comprehend this love. But in this moment of facing a year of major change, I’m choosing to look ahead and visualize God’s everlasting love waiting for me in the hard places and the happy places alike. I’m thanking God that it is there.

Without His assurance of everlasting love in eternity past (“I have loved“), we wouldn’t have a record of faithfulness to draw from.

Without His assurance of everlasting love in eternity future (“with an everlasting love“), we’d hardly want to step forward.

And without His assurance that we are the objects of His everlasting love (“I have loved you“), we’d find it even more difficult to believe that His love will be there for us.

Friend, are you facing changes this year that are already stirring emotion in your soul? Maybe it’s a move or a ministry change or an impending empty nest. Maybe it’s an adoption or an illness or a relationship struggle.

The list of changes stretches on.

But never longer or wider than the everlasting stretch of God’s faithful love. Rest in this today, and in the coming days. And pray for me, that I will live in the belief of His everlasting love stretching into the corners of my life. I will pray the same for you. Let’s look together for the love of change- God’s perfect, inexhaustible, stretching, everlasting love.

XOXO,

A Kindred Spirit

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