The buds and flowers, though, are also the result of the permanence of the tree, the dirt, the rain, and the sun. These things are all prior and necessary to the blossoming. Furthermore, they are all given by God who is the Giver of all things. “For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:45)
All change is rooted in the permanence of God.
Jesus, the Sustainer
John says of Jesus, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:1-3)
Whatever has been, is, and will be is rooted in, sustained by, and grows through Jesus Christ. The permanence of the foundations of the earth are created by him. They will fade, but he will remain. He is the same and his years will have no end. He continues forever. He is preeminent and superior over all things and by the word of his power he upholds the universe.
But Jesus is not simply sustaining creation. He is doing so because this work is rooted in a bigger work: the work of salvation or redemption from sin.
Jesus, the Savior
This world was created for the habitation of humanity. In the work of salvation, Jesus is saving and creating a new humanity, for which he is also making a new heaven and earth, without sin, for their habitation. This plan and work has its beginning and ending in Jesus. And because he is unchangeable, so is his plan. What he has begun he will complete.
However, salvation is not only the event of saving us from our sins. It is also the process of changing us as sinners. This entire process of growth and change is rooted in the permanence, eternality, of God’s grace and love towards us in Jesus.
Though it is by grace, changing is neither quick nor easy. It is slow and steady, difficult and often painful. This is because the change both required and performed is one of denying yourself and following Jesus, of dying to yourself and living for him. It is one of putting off the old self and putting on the new self. It is learning Christ and a new way of living in the world.
But we are not alone. When Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to his disciples, he was promising that all that was impossible for them to be and to do would be made possible in him.
Jesus, the Goal
What needs to be changed in us becomes visible or known because something is now piercing our hearts. Without light we could not know what darkness is.
First, we recognize what is happening because there’s a growing distance and distinction between what we look like now and what we looked like before. But second, we recognize what is happening because of what we’re moving towards or growing into.
Our changing is not pointless or meaningless, without direction or a goal. The goal for it is prior and necessary to it; the goal is not decided in mid-air or spontaneously along the way. Rather, what God is producing for us and in us is rooted in who he has made us to be(come) in Christ and the good works he has prepared for us and called us to accomplish.
A cultivated life
We know we can change because of God’s unending, unfailing, unquitting grace. We know all things are changing because of his grace. We know that if his grace ceased for a moment, in that moment everything would cease.
All change is rooted in a God who never changes and is eternally faithful. Like a faithful gardener, he is cultivating your life that it might become everything he envisions and longs for it to be.