Has your head been spinning with all the changes the world has undergone in the past several years?
We stumble through one crisis, only to find another totally unexpected one emerge. We wonder if life will ever truly be the same again.
It’s at times like these that we need something that never changes, much like conifers.
During the winter, when deciduous trees are bare, I’m thankful for coniferous trees. These loyal friends, like the spruces, pines and firs, still have their mantle of green, which they’ll keep year-round. These silent sentinels might not be flashy, but we can count on them not to change.
God’s character is like that, too.
When the world seems to be in turmoil, and life is changing in ways that are distressing and unpredictable, we need something unchanging to hold on to. That something is our eternal Heavenly Father.
When you read a cake or muffin recipe, it will usually instruct you to preheat your oven and get your baking pans prepared before describing how to make the dessert itself.
But why do it in this order? Why not make the batter first, and let it sit there in the bowl while you leisurely grease or line the baking pans and let the oven slowly heat up?
There’s a very good reason to have everything prepared before you start the actual baking, and it has to do with how leaveners behave.
As soon as a raising agent like baking soda comes into contact with the liquids in your cake batter, a chemical reaction starts to take place. Gases are generated, and bubbles begin forming. You want those bubbles to stay trapped inside the cake to give it loft and airiness.
If you let the batter sit there on the counter for too long, the gases would escape into the air. This would prevent your finished cake from being as light and fluffy as it could be. So as soon as the leavening agent is added and mixed in, put the batter into the prepared pan and get it into the heated oven as quickly as you can.
It’s the same way in life, isn’t it?
When God adds the circumstance or person that will be a catalyst to change your situation, things often begin moving very fast. If you’re not ready, it might catch you off guard. You may end up stumbling instead of stepping confidently into the new level God has in mind for you. You might not rise as high as you could have.
Among the most spectacular aspects of nature for me are its colours.
I’m continually wowed by the vivid colours found in nature, such as the brilliant red plumage of the Northern cardinal.
The cardinal’s red feathers, which come courtesy of pigments, look the same when viewed from any angle. But there’s another source of colour in nature that is even more mesmerizing:
With iridescence, the hue of something changes when seen from different angles. You’ve probably experienced this shimmery optical phenomenon yourself when looking at certain insects, butterflies, birds, or even soap bubbles.
A good example of iridescence is the head of the mallard, a common duck found in the northern hemisphere. Its head appears to be a bright emerald green at first, but if you shift your angle of observation, it can appear green-gold, blue, or indigo.
It all depends on your perspective.
Maybe there’s a little lesson here for us.
If we shift our perspective about our own situations, we can see beauty that we didn’t know was there.
If you look out the (virtual) window here at The Faith Cafe, you can see the leaves starting to change colour on the trees outside.
The tops of the maple trees are starting to blush with red. There’s a hint of yellow among the linden leaves. And the sumacs are beginning to fire up in vivid shades of orange.
This change creeps in gradually, however. At first, you barely notice fall coming on. Weeks from now, though, the trees will be ablaze in vibrant yellows, oranges, and reds. The difference from how they look today will be dramatic.
Oftentimes, I think this is the way God works in our lives.
He is slowly but surely leading us through a process of change and sanctification.
We may not notice that aspects of our character are being transformed, because the change is so gradual. One day, however, you look up and realize how far you’ve come and what amazing things God has done in your life.
The snow on the mountains appears static and unchanging. From day to day, nothing looks different. It seems like the status quo will continue as before.
But then all of a sudden, a mass of snow and ice breaks loose and barrels down the hills. Sweeping change happens in a flash, seemingly coming out of the blue.
There was no hint that this would happen.
Or was there?
Underneath the surface, things were going on that we couldn’t see. Perhaps the composition of the snowpack was changing, the load was becoming too great, or sublayers were weakening through melting. From above, we might not be able to tell that the snowpack was becoming increasingly unstable.
But it was now being held in such precarious tension that at any moment a tipping point would be reached. It would be enough to set the whole thing off, leading to a massive snow slide.
Do you ever feel that you’re in a period in your life where nothing seems to be happening? Despite your prayers for change, everything looks the same from day to day.
Looks can be deceiving.
When Jesus is in the picture, sudden change may be on its way, perhaps even an avalanche of blessings.
Have you ever tried a recipe you secretly doubted would work out?
They’re often the ones with the word “magic” in the recipe title, and they seem to promise the impossible.
The “Magic Chocolate Pudding Cake” below is a good example. The recipe instructs you to press a firm batter into a baking pan, and then pour flavoured boiling water on top of it. It claims this will magically transform into cake and sauce during the baking process.
You may be a bit dubious about this, however. The batter seems too solid and unyielding, impenetrable to the liquid atop it. You don’t see how this “magical” transformation will ever happen.
As you put the baking pan in the oven, you may think, “This will never work out. This will be another culinary disaster my family will tease me about for years to come, like the time I tried to cook a Thanksgiving turkey but forgot to turn the oven on.”
But lo and behold, the recipe does succeed after all! The two differing natures of the mixture are indeed transformed into something new and delicious, and your family thinks you’re a genius in the kitchen.
Unlikely transformations can still happen in our lives, too.
During this worldwide crisis, many of us are concerned about the changes that are being wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic. We wonder what the world will look like once we emerge from the lockdowns.
Will life truly return to the way it was before? Will there be thousands of small businesses that will never reopen? Will we ever be able to gather in large crowds like we did in the past? Will the way we “do life” have changed permanently because of this pandemic?
It’s at times like these that we need something that never changes, much like conifers. During the winter, when deciduous trees are bare, I’m thankful for coniferous trees. These loyal friends, like the spruces, pines and firs, still have their mantle of green, which they’ll keep year-round. These silent sentinels might not be flashy, but we can count on them not to change.