"Change Of Scenery" (April 2007)
Recently, my husband and I took a trip to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. We had the pleasure of spending several days touring through several different states. Most of our trip was traveled through the mountains. The last morning of our trip we woke up in the mountains of North Carolina. It was so amazing to open the motel room door and see the mountains standing in front of us, to the side and behind. As we began our trip home, we went the “scenic” route. The mountains were majestic. The roads were narrow and winding. The curves were sharp and steep over the mountain’s edges. The trees were tall and straight. There was a river that ran for miles and miles beside the road and through the mountains. The stones in the water were very visible. We saw lots of people enjoying themselves in rafts and kayaks on the white water. The scenery was breathtaking. I could go on and on trying to paint you a picture but still couldn’t do it total justice. Late that night, after a whole day of traveling, we finally arrived home. As I was getting ready for bed, I couldn’t help but think about how amazing it was to wake up in the morning surrounded by mountains, and that night go to bed in the flat, wooded area of Mississippi. As I pondered this, the Lord began to speak to me about life. Our lives are like my day was-- one moment your staring at a certain scenery, the next minute it has changed.
This month I want to talk about the ever changing scenery of our lives and the unchanging scenery of God. The word scenery is defined as the general appearance of a place. One of the synonyms for scenery is- surroundings. When I speak of the “scenery of life”, I am referring to those things that surround us, what is happening in our lives and what we face during the day. There is one thing that we can count on in this life... “scenery” change. Our lives don’t stay the same, they are in a constant state of change. Our physical appearance changes as we get older. Our relationships change, our jobs often change, sometimes our geographical locations change, sometimes it’s changes in our health, our living conditions may change and even the way we view things are subject to change. From the cradle to the grave our lives are subject to change.
There are several things that we can note about the changes of life: change is continuous; it often happens suddenly- surprising us and taking us off guard; not all change is bad; some changes are drastic; no one is exempt.
Change is continuous
The scenery on our trip constantly changed. It could go from a subtle change to a dramatic one in a matter of just a few hours. The scenery of our lives does the same. From the day that I was born my life began to change. I had to learn to crawl, walk, talk, run, feed myself, learn to read and write, cook, drive a car, and so on- these were changes that took place more subtly than some others. On the day I got married, the scenery of my life totally changed. I woke up as a single girl living in my parent’s house and before the day was over the scenery of my life had changed drastically; I went to bed as a married woman living with a husband in the home that he and I would make together. The day I graduated from high school was another change that went from subtle to dramatic. I woke up as a student and went to bed as a graduate ready to face a whole new world.
The change of scenery is not always bad
On the day my daughter was born, I woke up with this precious life inside my womb, but before the day was over I was holding her in my arms and we had a new addition to our family. There was a period of time when my husband had been laid off from work for eleven months, then one day out of the blue we got the call for him to go back to work. These were wonderful changes that took place in our lives. There are times in our lives when we wake up to the scenery of pain, sorrow, grief, heartache, fear or frustration. But in a moment God can turn that scenery to a scenery of gladness, peace and joy. This was the case with Hannah. She was childless and wanted a baby. Each morning she woke up in deep grief over her barrenness, but this particular day she went to the temple and prayed for a child. The Lord heard her cries and gave her the promise that she would have a son. In an instant God turned her sorrow into joy and her weeping into gladness. “And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore. And she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head. Then Eli answered and said, Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him.” (1 Samuel 1:10,11,17)
Some Changes are drastic
When we went out west last year, the scenery on our trip was constantly changing. We would be driving along through flat plains then all of a sudden, almost out of nowhere, a mountain would appear. On our trip last week, we were driving along and around a curve noticed snow on the sides of the road- it wasn’t on the other side of the mountain; just in that one spot. This is how the scenery of our life is- it can change suddenly without warning and it can change from one moment to the next. For example, one day my husband went to the hospital to have surgery and before we got back home that evening we were told he had cancer- the scenery of our lives changed. We had no warning that this was coming around the “curve”. You can be going through life and not experiencing any problems then all of a sudden it changes. Sometimes you get an unexpected phone call that a loved one has passed away. Sometimes you get the pink slip from your employer. The change may come through the results of a medical test. A change of scenery comes through many forms. Abraham got up on morning and the Lord told him to leave his father’s house and go to a land that He would show him. “Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee.” (Genesis 12:1) Saul’s father’s donkeys had gotten lost so Saul went out to look for them. Before he arrived back home, he had been anointed King of Israel- that was quiet a change of scenery in life. “And the asses of Kish Saul's father were lost. And Kish said to Saul his son, Take now one of the servants with thee, and arise, go seek the asses.” (1 Samuel 9:3) “Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it upon his head, and kissed him, and said, Is it not because the Lord hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance?” (1 Samuel 10:1)
Change takes us by surprise
Noah was minding his own business, going about his day as usual then the Lord spoke to him and gave him instructions to build an ark. The day the rain began started off sunny as usual, but by the end of it Noah was afloat. “And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch. And the Lord said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation. And Noah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him, into the ark, because of the waters of the flood.” (Genesis 6:1,7; 2:13,14) Moses was tending to the sheep and all of a sudden saw a burning bush. The Lord spoke to him from the bush and called him to deliver His people from the bondage of Egypt. The scenery of Moses’ life changed without warning. He went from being a shepherd in the desert to the deliverer of God’s people and one of the greatest figures in Jewish history. “Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb. And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.” (Exodus 3:1,2,10) David was sent by his father to check on his brothers who were in the army against the Philistines and take them supplies. David never dreamed that before he returned home that evening he would have killed a giant and helped Israel win the war. “And David rose up early in the morning, and left the sheep with a keeper, and took, and went, as Jesse had commanded him; and he came to the trench, as the host was going forth to the fight, and shouted for the battle. So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and smote the Philistine, and slew him; but there was no sword in the hand of David. Therefore David ran, and stood upon the Philistine, and took his sword, and drew it out of the sheath thereof, and slew him, and cut off his head therewith. And when the Philistines saw their champion was dead, they fled.” (1 Samuel 17:20,50,51) Mary was virgin with a baby in her womb; not just any baby but the Messiah. (Luke 1) Zacharias was performing his priestly duties and an angel appeared to him and told him he would become a father. (Luke 1) John the Baptist was living in the wilderness one day and fulfilling his purpose the next- preparing the way for the Messiah. Peter was fishing one morning and by that evening he was following Jesus. The three Hebrew children had no idea when they woke up that morning that they would be thrown into a fiery furnace before the day was over. Daniel went to prayer as he had done everyday but before he had time to finish his prayer he was arrested and thrown into a lion’s den.
No one is exempt from a change of scenery in life
I’m not exempt, you aren’t, and neither were the saints in the Bible. Every person in the Bible had a change of scenery in their lives. Mary was a teenage girl, Daniel was a public official, Peter was a blue collar worker, Zacharias was a priest, David was a shepherd boy, Moses was a fugitive in hiding, yet everyone of them faced change in their lives. Change of scenery comes to all. It doesn’t show respect of persons. It doesn’t come to just the rich and affluent, the down and out, the young, the well educated. It comes to our lives no matter who we are, what we do, where we live or work. The Bible tells us that it rains on the just and the unjust. This is also true of the changes in our lives. A change of scenery “rains” on us all. The change may be good or it may be bad. It may be a blessing or seem like a curse. It may change from day to night, or night to day. But it is inevitable that change will occur in your life.
As we were traveling through the mountains there was one thing we noticed, the mountain did not change. It was still there no matter how many times the road turned and winded, no matter how many rocks had fallen, no matter how much blasting had taken place to build a road through it. It’s scenery never changed. There is one scenery that we can look upon in our lives that will never change- God. When I speak of the scenery of God, I am not referring to the things that He has created. I am referring to what we see when we look at Him. What do we see as we look at God? We don’t see His face because He said that no man can look on His face. “And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.” (Exodus 33:20) “No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake.” (John 14:9-11) What we see is God’s character- who He is. God’s character and nature does not change. “For I am the Lord, I change not.” (Malachi 3:6a) Time doesn’t erode it. Man’s unbelief can’t change Him. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) You can say He is dead or that He doesn’t exist but He is still there and very real. He has no end. Heaven and earth will pass away, but He is eternal.
As the scenery of your life changes, rest assured that the scenery of God does not. You may have woke up this morning to one scenery and before the day is over it may change. You may have woke up this morning in peace and joy, but bad news brought the scenery of pain and grief to your life- life is like that. But this morning when you woke up and looked at God, what you saw in Him is what you’ll see the rest of the day no matter what comes your way. God is peace, God is love, God is joy, God is strength, God is healing, God is protection, God is provider, God is helper and He does not change. The same peace you saw in God when you woke up this morning is the same peace you’ll see in Him when you go to bed. The same love that you felt from Him in the morning is the same love you’ll receive from Him in the night. If you experienced His grace in a past change of life’s scenery, you can still experience that same grace today when the scenery changes... because He does not change. Keep looking to His unchanging character in an ever changing world.