Changing Seasons – Unchanging God

During a year when we have been blessed with the birth of a grandson, and saddened at the loss of a relative and lifelong friend, I find myself contemplating retirement. All of the above remind me of the passing seasons of life.

Several years ago, I was living in a very rural area in a mobile home. From my front garden, I was blessed with what was without question, one of the best views in West Sussex. It was an awesome place to live. Directly in front of us were the rolling hills of the South Downs and the iconic landmark of Chanctonbury Ring. Chanctonbury is an ancient hillfort which stands on top of the Downs, a mile or two to the east of the village of Washington. It really was a beautiful view. As the light and seasons changed, so the view changed in awesome and infinite ways. There we go – seasons again.

Over the years we were invited to various neighbours, where we would sit in their back garden for barbecues, coffee or drinks. I discovered that by simply moving a few hundred yards to the east or west of our home, the view of Chanctonbury was slightly different. It was recognisably the same place. The changes were subtle, but real.

My relationship with God is important to me. It always has been. It’s part of who I am. Yet as I reflect on the seasons of life I recognise that the world has been constantly changing around me in so many ways. Inevitably, I as I have reacted to the changing world, I have changed too. As I have changed, my relationship with God has changed in subtle but significant ways.

Chanctonbury looks different when I move to someone else’s garden, but it’s still Chanctonbury. It hasn’t changed.

My relationship with God might look or feel different as I move through the seasons of life, but He is still God. He doesn’t change.

‘I, the LORD, do not change.’ Malachi 3:6

‘Jesus Christ is the same, Yesterday, today and forever’ Hebrews 13:8

Silence: A new manifestation of His presence (Psalm 139)

God, Scripture tells us,  promises that he will always be with us.

‘I will never leave you, nor forsake you.’ (Deuteronomy 31:8)

Yet often, God seems far away. Often, God seems silent. Even those of us who have strong faith can feel alone in the silence. Abandoned. Adrift.

I was reminded of Psalm 139, which says ‘Where can I go to escape your presence.’ The Psalm goes on to provide the answer that there is nowhere you can go to escape the presence of His Spirit. It is    everywhere – throughout His creation. This means that whether or not we notice, in spite of the silence, God is closer to us than we can even imagine.

A few years ago, I heard Pete Greig talking about a time when he was facing huge personal challenges. Speaking from a place of profound personal experience he said:

‘There are times when God seems to be silent. But He is not absent. His    silence is a new manifestation of His presence.’ 

(Pete Greig: Speaking at Spring Harvest, Skegness, 2019)

A prayer of St Theresa de Avila
Lord, you are closer to me than my own breath, nearer to me than my hands and feet. Amen