“Time is filled with swift transition. Naught of earth unmoved can stand. Build your hopes on things eternal. Hold to God’s unchanging hand.”
As I considered this week’s entry, my spirit was led to this old church song: “Hold to God’s Unchanging Hand.” It’s one of the many songs that the young people tend to find “boring,” because it doesn’t have the beat of a Kirk Franklin song or the tempo of a piece by the likes of Israel and New Breed. It’s the type of song that most of the so-called “old folks” know, and so that tends to automatically put it in the category of “too traditional” as we do church in the twenty-first century.
But whether or not the beat of this song makes your feet start tapping or whether or not the tempo of this song inspires you to dance, the message of this song ought to encourage us all, young and old. While beats and tempos change from generation to generation, everybody experiences the “swift transition” that life brings. We transition from childhood to adulthood, from being dependent on parents to learning how to be dependent on ourselves, from living in one place to living in another. Change and transition is part of life, whether you were born eighty years ago, fifty years ago, or twenty years ago.
In every generation, there are those who accept this reality and those who resist it. There are those who embrace the transition that will come – whether we like it or not – and there are those who resist that transition, as if they will not be moved. I remember Dr. Andrew Young talking about the struggle that went on in his father’s church many years ago as they transitioned from using a fireplace to heat the church to using a gas furnace. Young people who grew up with gas and electric heaters probably cannot even imagine resisting such a thing; it’s simply what we are used to. But for those in the generation of Dr. Young’s father, some were very reluctant to transition away from chopping and collecting those logs of firewood to heat the church.
We live in an era when change happens more quickly than it probably ever has before. As we mourned the death of Steve Jobs last week, so much of the conversation centered on how important a role he had played in innovation and new technology like the smart-phone and the I Pad. President Obama reflected on the fact that so many of us first heard the news of his passing on the very device that he and his engineers at Apple had invented. We can try to resist change, but if we heed the words of this song, we know that “naught of earth unmoved can stand.”
As we walk down the road of life then, the key is that we keep the proper perspective on those things that will remain constant in the midst of constant change and transition. That is why the songwriter encourages us to “build [our] hopes on things eternal; hold to God’s unchanging hand.” Before there ever was a was, God was in the midst; and after forever is over, God will still be there. God is the One who lasts when all else fades away. If you’re like me, you no longer stack up quarterly booklets of Daily Bread, but instead, you receive your Upper Room devotional through your e-mail (which is synced with your smart-phone!) But the Word of God that these devotionals reflect on remains the same as it was when they were first written on scrolls over two thousand years ago.
We ought not be frazzled, frustrated, or discouraged by change. Instead, we ought to accept the swift transition that fills this life of ours, and trust God enough to build our hopes for this life on His firm foundation. Hold to his hand (hallelujah), God’s unchanging hand; Hold to his hand, God’s unchanging hand; build your hopes on things eternal…
Oh God, help us to hold to your hand; help us to be ready at all times for swift transition and constant change. Instill in us a deep trust in You, and a willingness to build our hopes on your eternal foundation.
Prayer focus for the week: increasing our sense of the eternal in our lives.