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Cha-cha-cha-cha-changes!

I recently found a Spotify radio playlist that offers up the music I was listening to in high school. Lots of classic rock I remember from Philadelphia’s WMMR and some of the alt, new wave stuff I was also fond of. One word of one song is resonating more than ever these days.

I’m not a huge David Bowie fan, but recently I find myself singing “Changes,” because, life in 2021.

'The only thing constant is change' (Heraclitus, probably). Photo: Wikipedia
‘The only thing constant is change’ (Heraclitus, probably). Photo: Wikipedia

I know the old saying about how the only thing constant is change (Heraclitus, 6th century BCE, attributed). But come on! Enough already!

  • Work has changed—working from home and meeting over Zoom.
  • Our home lives have changed—if only that they now include everyday work spaces for many of us now.
  • Our church is changing. I’m a United Methodist, and we are facing another postponement of General Conference and the announcement of a new denomination some of our members are forming.

Other stuff in our lives is changing too. Kids are graduating. Family members are ill. Neighbors are struggling.

And maybe there’s some faith stuff that all of this struggle has called into question. I used to think this about God, but those ideas don’t make sense to me right now.

As you go through your list, note that these are not trivial things. They are foundational parts of our lives we have relied upon for decades as strong, solid and reliable.

Now, however, some of them feel a bit like shifting sand.

Shifting sand

Jesus addressed times like these in a parable:

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and don’t do what I say? I’ll show what it’s like when someone
comes to me, hears my words, and puts them into practice. It’s like a person building a house by digging deep and laying the foundation on bedrock. When the flood came, the rising water smashed against that house, but the water couldn’t shake the house because it was well built. But those who don’t put into practice what they hear are like a person who built a house without a foundation. The floodwater smashed against it and it collapsed instantly. It was completely destroyed.”

Luke 6:46-49 Common English Bible

Some of you who went to Sunday School as children, probably started singing in your heads as you read that passage: “The wise man built his house upon the rock… The rains came down and the floods came up…The house on the sand went SMASH!”–always a crowd-pleaser with the elementary school crowd! But that parable is so powerful.

This idea Jesus shares about choosing our foundations is profound. Whether intentionally or not, we choose the things on which we build our lives.

Your foundation may include things like work, church and family. Some of us put our brains or our work ethic in there. Usually, there is some identity as parent, leader, or a job title included in there somewhere.

It’s not like those things are necessarily bad, but when the storms come, they can be unreliable. The ground seems to shift beneath our feet.

Often we can’t even put our finger on what we’re feeling. We simply know that everything just feels “off.” Maybe you’re there. I know I’m having more of those days than I’m accustomed to or comfortable with.

Regaining our footing

Which, oddly, brings me back to classic rock. This time U2’s “40,” which has that title because it is based on Psalm 40.

In verse 2 of the song, Bono sings, “You set my feet upon a rock, And made my footsteps firm… And I will sing, sing a new song.”

The Psalmist Bono is borrowing from, put it this way:

He lifted me out of the pit of death,
    out of the mud and filth,
    and set my feet on solid rock.
        He steadied my legs.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a song of praise for our God.
Many people will learn of this and be amazed;
    they will trust the Lord.
Those who put their trust in the Lord,
    who pay no attention to the proud
    or to those who follow lies,
    are truly happy!

Psalm 40:2-4 Common English Bible

Together, these two passages remind me that when my foundation doesn’t hold, and the house on the sand goes smash, it’s not the end of the story. In those moments—in these moments—in the midst of change, when we feel the strain—God comes and puts us again on solid ground.

Jesus says, “I’ll show what it’s like when someone comes to me, hears my words, and puts them into practice. It’s like a person building a house by digging deep and laying the foundation on bedrock.” May you and I find that solid foundation.

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