“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
We are unpredictable creatures of habit. Sounds like a contradiction in terms, doesn’t it? Far from it—there’s an internal logic to the illogic of our actions. Living in the world, out of touch with the Spirit, we become mercurial, our thoughts and feelings those of the soul and the outer self. We flit from understanding to understanding, from position to position. We fall in love and out of love, with people, with ideas, with revolutions and all manner of creative and created works,—fickle, like candle flames flickering in the breeze.
And yet we’re constantly reacting to situations and circumstances in exactly the same ways, even though they haven’t succeeded in the past. Albert Einstein said that the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results,” and that’s as good a description as any of this part of the human condition. Despite our mercurial natures, we’re always trying the same thing to fix problems, proffering the same solutions that never solve anything, and probably never will, doomed to repeat history. We’re shortsighted that way, almost blinkered. We find it difficult to see the paths that have led us to a particular place, and so often choose the same fork over and over, leading us in circles.
It’s impossible to achieve effective change in our lives with this approach, and it has further ramifications for us too—because everyone else is in the same boat, inconstant yet utterly committed to the same old ways, we find it hard to trust people, because we find we can’t rely upon them. Without trust in relationships, relationships fall to pieces.
True to form, God flips that unsuccessful template for life completely on its head. He is consistent in His Spirit. He will always be gracious and merciful to us—regardless of our actions, or in many cases our inaction—because he made a covenant with us in the shape of his son, and the Father always keeps his promises. That promise, and the action of his Spirit in our lives, renders Him entirely consistent, His character entirely predictable. He’s never changed how he feels about us, and he never will. We’re almost conditioned not to trust, because of the mercurial nature of the world around us—but we always know where we are with God, because He never changes. We might find His ways opaque, but that’s okay!
Completely unlike the way we tend to work, God’s approach to us can be more varied than you could possibly imagine. Even a quick scan across scripture shows us that He rarely does things the same way twice. He knows that what worked in one situation or with one person will not work in another. He sees the differences in all things, the uniqueness in everything that He has made, and the cookie-cutter mentality isn’t something He’s interested in. He’s as far from shortsighted and blinkered as it’s possible to get.
He sees all of us, in all of us. He sees everything, in every thing. The breadth of His vision is so vast that it is actually incomprehensible to us. It’s what gave rise to the concept in philosophy and theology of ‘ineffability,’ literally meaning ‘something that cannot be spoken of’. He’s called us to see the invisible, to do the impossible. We cannot understand His ways—that’s why they’re called mysterious—and yet He asks us to trust Him, regardless.
It’s good for us, good for our spirits and good for our tattered self-esteem to be able to trust in something that will never let us down, to relax back into the unchanging nature of God. We need to be led in the Spirit to that place of great warmth and security, because there is no security in what he’s asking us to do. He sends us on perilous quests, commits us to the outrageous, supremely confident in His great heart to shield us. He throws us to the wolves, and that’s okay—because there’s a lion walking alongside us.
Learn to settle into the steady joy and peace of what the Father will be for you. Everything we know about how the world works is reversed where God is concerned, and a good thing too. The flipside of the world is the only place to live.