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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.



The challenge of the Changeless One.

Coming up from the Riverwalk in Austin, Texas, I glance to my right and find this short section of disused track, overgrown with weeds and shrubs. With shiny skyscrapers in the background, it’s a powerful reminder of how prevalent change is in this world.

Nothing ever stays the same.

We like it that way. We love to see growth and transformation, whether it’s in our garden or in the hero of the novel we’re reading. We dismiss flat characters. We relish testimonies of spiritual improvement and awakening. Every day, I work on improving my character and expanding my understanding.

This is why I struggle with the reality that God does not change. It’s just such a foreign concept.

So, I turn to J.I. Packer, whose seminal book, Knowing God, explains this idea of God’s immutability:

He exists forever and He is always the same. He does not grow older. His life does not wax or wane. He does not gain new powers, nor lose those that He once had. He does not mature or develop. He does not get stronger, or weaker, or wiser, as time goes by.

He never becomes less truthful, or merciful, or just, or good, than He used to be. The character of God is today, and always will be, exactly what it was in Bible times.

That’s so helpful. It reminds me that God is not a work in progress. For someone to improve, it requires him to be far less in the past. That cannot be with God. Imagine thinking that when he created Adam he had but a fraction of the wisdom or love he had when he created you!

And that doesn’t even touch the negative possibilities – that we might, like the ancient Greeks, need to worry about what fit of pique might have overtaken our Deity.

Scripture puts it like this:

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17

James uses the constancy of the sun as an analogy. But even the sun can be seen differently – the phrase “does not change” is the Greek word from which we get parallax, seeing something from varying points of view. Sunlight waxes and wanes. Shadows grow shorter and longer.

But not God. Though our experience of the Lord can differ, it’s our perception that changes, not him.

Later in the day, I watch the sun play upon the surface of Lake Travis, north of the city. It’s a beautiful, morphing flow of light and shadow, clouds and sun. I’m glad that I live in a world of variation, that I'm not presented with the same rigid pattern of clouds and sun each day.

But my enjoyment of this constant change is built upon the steadfast reliability of his character. I can rejoice in what might come because I never have to fear what God might become.

God, you are the Constant One. And yet you created a world that you designed to constantly grow. Help us to see how your unchangeable nature undergirds that growth.

Reader: Tell me what aspect of God’s unchanging nature speaks to you the most.

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Bruce Van Patter

As a freelance illustrator, graphic recorder, and author, Bruce is on a lifelong journey to delight in the handiwork of the Creator. And he’s always ready for fellow travelers.

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