Not only insurmountable because he wore that ugly tie so often, but because it meant that he was present and you knew exactly what you could expect from him because not only was his character consistent; his actions were as well. He was unlike many dads and I knew that from the time I was a young girl, though to be honest, the older I become, the more remarkable I find him to be and the more I desire to emulate so much of who he was to me. But I’m not my dad. We are all individuals, all with our unique personality, interests, and passions; and yet even as individuals, we can become predictable.
I’m an adventurous kind of girl. I love mixing it up, defying predictability and charging full steam ahead to take on challenges that would make most people’s heart skip a beat. However, in my day-to-day, I love stability. Predictability is my friend. There is safety here and the opportunity to be successful in our careers, relationships, etc. can be fully embraced because we know what to expect– and therefore know what is expected of us in return. With predictability, life operates like a well-oiled machine because security and minimal risk reside here. Not all things are predictable, as we know, and it’s in this uncertainty where we question or doubt or lose faith in what we have always believed.
Though we might not breathe the words to life, I believe we have expectations that even God should be predictable, because when we read verses like Hebrews 13:8, which says “Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever”, we interpret that as His ways are unchanging. We assume that how we saw Him work and move in the past is how He will continue to operate; but when He doesn’t, we wonder if we really knew Him, we question Him, and our faith begins to waver or even disbands altogether.
Thinking Christ is predictable, although I believe common, is tragic because sadly, it limits our view of Christ and even our faith. We forget that our perceptions are finite, limited, and somehow, we incorrectly assume God fits within our parameters. We humanize Him, pulling Him to our level, and we forget to make room for the possibility that the vastness of Him extends beyond our scope of reasoning, beyond our scope of possibilities, beyond our comprehension.
But the truth is, God doesn’t wear the same green tie to all special occasions.
We confuse same action for same character; meaning we feel we can trust Him and love Him when He responds in ways we expect or have our approval, but when He doesn’t, we doubt. I cringe as I write this because I am guilty of putting limited expectations on God and find myself the guest of honor at my very own pity party, when He responds differently or not at all. With each trial, I walk away thinking I’ve learned better, gained a better sense of Who He is, but when the world closes in on me again, it ushers in doubts that God’s timing really is right and best, that His ways really are better than the perfectly good, sparkly option I have readily available. I have felt, more times than I care to admit (because it’s an embarrassing amount), that God has failed me, that He has let me down, that maybe He has even given up on me. When I fall into this way of thinking, I realize I have avoided the real issue at hand, and that is: I am still a work in progress (Phil. 1:6), I am still knee deep in the muck and the mire. I am still learning what it means to authentically cultivate a deep and intimate, abiding trust in God. Sigh. My heart can scarcely face the reality of my years of selfishness and ignorance, where I have made faith more about me, than about Him. Admittedly, I sometimes want a predictable God and an easy faith.
Sometimes, I wish He wore that green tie!
So, what does scripture mean when it tells us we can count on Christ to remain the same yesterday and today and forever? I think it means we can depend on His “solid nature”, meaning that His actions, even if different from one situation to another, will always reflect His same sacrificial, tenacious love for us. Just this week, my youngest daughter, through her heart-wrenching sobs cried out, “I love God, Momma, but I just don’t see Him. I keep asking Him to—–, and He doesn’t listen. He’s not doing it”. As I addressed her tender heart, I touched on several things, but smiled when I heard myself say, “God loves us in ways that sometimes makes sense to us and sometimes in ways that don’t make sense. It’s in the hard times, the times where He feels entirely distant, that we learn He is anything but predictable in how He operates”. My daughter sat completely unmoved, unaffected by my brilliant pep talk, but I went to bed that night with the thought that, “God loves me no matter how I feel or what I see Him doing”. Truly, the fact remains the same: He loves me. God doesn’t fall into our spiritualized image of Who we want Him to be. With time, we’ll learn to count on His innate goodness and mercy and on the sustaining intimacy of His presence.
One thing we can count on is that whatever the Lord does or however He does it, His spirit will remain consistent; He is unchanging. Perhaps, we need to remember too, that His thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are His way our ways (Isaiah 55:8). Christ is not predictable, but He is unfathomably, most certainly dependable.
In the end, I’m glad He doesn’t wear a green tie, but instead wears a robe of righteousness.