June 1, 2021

Certainty amidst volatility

associate pastor

associate pastor

Ken Rathburn


The only constant in life is change.”  – Heraclitus

Last Monday morning was a scary moment for me. As I’m getting ready, Elliot (our youngest) walks in and informs me that Owen (our middle) “is hurt and can’t move.” Rushing upstairs, I find Owen sitting on the bed, clinching his neck in extreme pain and afraid to move. My fearless son, the one who has attempted every conceivable stunt short of jumping off our roof (to date) had tried to crack his own neck and popped a disc out of position. This was the child who was sure to become a distance runner, ninja warrior competitor, rock climber or something of the sort. In an instant it seemed like what I knew for certain about Owen would be gone. Fortunately, my ability at medical prognostication is lacking. By applying ice at regular intervals and a chiropractic adjustment, he was back to his normal self in just under a week. Praise the Lord.

The point is that what we often think of as guaranteed in this world, well, just isn’t. Things change and very little is for certain. The pool was supposed to open last Saturday and the weather didn’t cooperate. Vaccines that were in short supply just a few months ago now require million dollar lotteries to incentivize people to take them. Bitcoin was going to increase in value forever and then, by the power of Elon Musk’s Twitter account, it didn’t. Covid guidelines shift, sometimes more than once in the same week. Loved ones that seemed to always be there suddenly are taken from us. Unexpected change can make us shake our heads and sometimes it can break our hearts. Heraclitus may be using hyperbole, but it carries a certain—pun intended—kernel of truth. The Bible actually warns us about thinking much is for certain in this life. “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” (James 4:13-14) We so often live this life as if we have certainty, but very little here is promised to us, including our very next breath.

We so often live this life as if we have certainty, but very little here is promised to us, including our very next breath.

One thing that is promised to us is that God never changes. He is, as theologians say, immutable: the only One in whom we truly can be certain. “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.” (Malachi 3:6) Even the heavens and the earth “will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but you are the same, and your years have no end. The children of your servants shall dwell secure; their offspring shall be established before you.” (Psalm 102:25-27) God is and has always been exactly as he is. After all, he is perfection in all things—his holiness, his goodness, his power, his justice and his love—so to change would be to become lesser. 

This may seem like a lot of heady theology, but it is so important. In this world where everything shifts around and nothing seems fit to be counted on completely, we have our immutable God. He is our solid rock. This is why the incarnation is such a profound and glorious mystery: the eternal and unchanging God became a finite human being who bled and died. The unchanging God of the universe came to rescue and redeem our fallen world. As the Apostle John writes: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13) Friends, be encouraged! In the up and down volatility of today, we do not have to wonder if there really is eternal life. We can know it in Christ, by the Holy Spirit’s power. Jesus proved it by dying and rising from the grave and we need only take hold of it by believing in him. He is not fickle and he does not change, so we can trust him with our lives.

Blessed to serve our immutable God,

Pastor Ken