"For I the Lord do not change.” Malachi 3:6 ESV
I live just outside a large metropolitan area. It seems every day when I drive into the city (whether on major highways or back streets) the roads are always under construction or in the midst of repairs. The routing I followed yesterday is not the same as the routing today. Signs for detours and lane changes pop up regularly. I can’t trust any of the traffic patterns that I have known before. Driving becomes exhausting.
Every night various apps on my smartphone update so when I open them each morning I have to reorient myself to how to use them. Tracking all the new features becomes confusing. In our society, not only has change itself become inevitable, it has also become constant. It leaves us all a bit weary and at times, disoriented.
Perhaps these experiences are what led me to ponder anew the immutability of God. In the midst of the swirling changes and uncertainty of daily life, I can be sure that the God I trust, the Lord I follow, the Holy Counselor I depend on, is the same as He was yesterday and will be the same tomorrow. The God of the ancient Scriptures is the same God of my current realities.
God’s unchangeable character means that all His other attributes such as mercy, grace, righteousness, sovereignty, power, etc. will also never change. I can observe His patience described in the book of Hosea, and know that just as He instructed Hosea to pursue His wayward wife, Gomer, God will always be wooing me away from my idols and back to His love. ALWAYS. As I read David’s psalms I can be reminded that I have the same Shepherd who provides, refreshes, restores and protects.
In the Old Testament, God often describes Himself as the Father of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In doing so, He declares that through all three of those generations He was the same One. What a joy to know that the God I worship is the same as the One Noah knew, the same One Moses followed, the same One Mary and Martha loved. He is also the God my grandmother could depend on and the One my grandchildren will find faithful.
The immutability of God means that my faith is anchored on a solid rock, not floating in shifting sand. It means that when the world around me is crumbling, He is not (Psalm 46). It means that there is NOTHING that will alter His love for me (Romans 8:35-39), NOTHING that will disrupt His watchfulness over me (Psalm 121:3-4) and NOTHING that will keep Him from fulfilling His purposes for me (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).
And while I am exceedingly grateful that the God I worship will never change, I am also thankful that He enables me to change. Since I am not perfect (like He is), I am so glad He helps me repent (change directions), receive forgiveness and become a better person. Since I am not all-knowing (like He is) it is wonderful that through His goodness, I can learn and grow and change.
The Bible tells us that God “does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17 NIV). I thought of that verse the other day when the clouds were moving across the sky briskly and kept covering up the sun. I found myself taking off my sunglasses and then putting them back on, over and over. The shadows kept shifting, requiring me to change my actions to accommodate the clouds’ capricious behavior. I never knew when I’d next need to whisk off the dark shades, or plunk them over my eyes. Back and forth. Back and forth.
Our God is not capricious, here one moment and gone the next. He is here, always. He is the same, always. He is God. Always. Same. Same.