Saul was the first king of Israel. He struggled to obey God and accept his directives through the prophet, Samuel. Rather, he chose to go his own way and follow what the people said, choosing his reputation over obedience. Due to Saul’s overt rejection of God, God rejected him as king over Israel.

Saul was sorry he got caught not listening to the prophet. He wanted to be forgiven so that he might save face in front of the people, not because he had rejected God’s commands. This is Samuel’s response to Saul when he wanted forgiveness:

“The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to someone else—one who is better than you. And he who is the Glory of Israel will not lie, nor will he change his mind, for he is not human that he should change his mind!”

1 Samuel 15:28-29

God freely forgives according to his character. But forgiveness follows genuine repentance. The Apostle John in his first letter to the church says that when we confess our sins, God forgives. I John 1:9

Repentance that leads to forgiveness says, “I’m sorry for violating God’s holy name and for rejecting his leadership in my life.” Repentance that does not lead to forgiveness says, “I’m sorry I got caught and feel bad that you might think less of me.” See 2 Corinthians 7:8-10.

God forgives me lavishly according to his character. He also knows when my repentance is genuine or if I’m simply trying to save face. God waits to lift the heavy burden off and cast it away. Are you ready to let go? Is repentance genuine?

I find it helpful and interesting to look deeper into the original languages of scripture to help me understand concepts. In Yahweh’s self-description (Exodus 34:6-7), forgiveness is listed as one of God’s character qualities. The original Hebrew word used is one that literally means to pick up or lift an object and move it away. It also means to remove guilt and the penalty of wrong doing.

Sin is a heavy load. In Psalm 32, David described his physical condition when his sin was unconfessed. He says it was like a hand that laid heavy on him. His body wasted away, his strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. But he begins the psalm like this:

“Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty!”

Psalm 32:1-2

Notice the relief and joy that one feels when there is forgiveness! In another psalm of David (Psalm 103), he recites God’s character and then says this:

He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve…. He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.

Psalm 103:10, 12

These are the words of David, a man who knew God’s forgiveness. He committted adultery and murder then lied to cover up his misdeeds. But when he understood the gravity of his actions, he repented. And God faithfully forgave him. David confidently says, “He does not deal with me harshly as I deserve!”

Do you have a heavy load that makes life difficult? Are you living life in complete honesty? Do you need a dose of forgiveness and unfailing love? It’s here for you! Just ask.

I shared scripture yesterday that said God never changes. The three passages I cited all speak of God’s promise to Abraham to make a people for himself. In other words, God will not “unchoose” us in favor of a different plan. He sticks with his Plan! (See Isaiah 14:24-27 for more on God’s unchanging plan.)

Another aspect of God that does not change is his moral and ethical character. While Moses was leading the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt and to the land God promised them, they lost hope and built a golden calf.

God wasn’t happy about this and threatened to wipe out the people and start fresh with Moses. Moses interceded for the people but need a little reassurance himself. He asked to see God’s glorious presence.

I don’t blame him. I need reassurance now and then too. God agreed and told Moses that when he passed by he would call out his name, Yahweh. In saying this, he declared that he would describe his character to Moses. This is what he said as his glory passed by Moses:

“Yahweh! The Lord! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But I do not excuse the guilty (justice).”

Exodus 34:6-7

There was no other god like this in the Ancient Near East. This is the One the writer’s of scripture knew and referenced. God’s moral and ethical nature does not change. He always looks on us with compassion, mercy, patience, love and faithfulness. He forgives even when he would have reason not to, but his justice cannot be mocked. The greatest expression of his character is sending Jesus to die in my place.

What aspect of God’s character means the most to you right now? What aspect would you like to experience more fully?

I grab a cup of coffee, my favorite flannel blanket, light a candle and curl up on the chair in my office. This is my safe space where I ponder and reflect on all things related to living. I plan, I write, I meditate in this sacred space. To my left is a rustic cross made from barn siding with the word “PRAY” strategically placed on the crossbar. Everything about this room tells me to take a breath and trust.

Today I come into this space with a heavy heart. As tears well up and pour down my cheeks, I struggle to accept change. This isn’t the first time I have needed to accept change. It won’t be the last. Nor is it the first time change is accompanied by tears.

It would seem change is inevitable. And many times it is accompanied by a bit of struggle or pain. Remember when you started school? First grade was a big deal. A lot of change. New kids to meet. Wondering if there would be friends. And years later I sent my children to first grade. They seemed so small and vulnerable. That was a moment for tears.

Getting married brought a lot of change into my life. I moved 2000 miles away from my home town to a community quite different from my own. Everything about my new life was different – church, family, style of dress, customs. There were many moments of tears in that transition. Years later, I watched my own children marry. Their faces, filled with joy, looked at another with the love and adoration that used to be mine. While it was a good and necessary change, tears were shed in my quiet place.

Relationships are essential for life. Like air to our lungs, we survive change by having that hand to hold. My very first friend outside of relatives was Sarah. We met on the bus the first year of school. This year, we have known one another for 50 years! That’s a long time. As adults, we pursued our own paths and settled in very different locations, but you never forget that first friendly hand.

There were many other friends after that. Really great women, and a few men, who helped make transitions in life just a little bit easier. At times these relationships got out of whack. By that I mean, I relied too heavily on one person or another. Learning to let go was extremely difficult. A time for tears.

The birth of children, changes in employment, moves to new homes, aging parents, aging me – and the list goes on and on – bring change in good ways. But always change is accompanied by a struggle and many times, tears.

As I reflect on change, the eyes of my heart search for something that is stable. Is anything constant? Even the weather changes from season to season!

I begin to make a list. I don’t think it will be very long.

  1. God never changes. Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 6:17, James 1:17

Like I said, the list is short. There is a common theme in these verses, pointing to the aspect of God that never changes. It is his character, his holiness, his Word. He chose us – humans – to be his people. And he will not change his mind about that. No matter what we do, we are his children.

But does anything about God ever change? I find verses that say God changed his mind. So is he fickle? I need to know, because the rest of life seems to be pretty prone to change.

I invite you to join me this week as I take a look at a few verses that seem to indicate God does change his mind. What’s that about? Maybe you are like me and you could use a little stability in your life right now.

Until tomorrow…

May the Lord bless you and protect you.

May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.

May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.

Numbers 6:24-26

Change is inevitable. What characterizes your response to change? Are you in a season of change and wondering what is happening?

As you listen to this song, allow it to stir your heart and give thought to change. Is it a friend or foe?

Looking forward to the week together!

Today, whether you are in community worship or at home in your recliner, take a few minutes to be wrenchingly honest with yourself. Are you slowly moving away from where you want to be? Are you taking care of the important things along the way like family, children, relationships? And most important of all, your heart?

Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

Psalm 51:10-12, 16-17

Sewing reveals my imperfections. You see, nothing I make is exactly perfect. Sometimes I do the hard work of taking my stitches out and redoing the sewing. Other times, I let it go. Recently, my greatest imperfection is my inability to measure correctly. I get it all ready to do the final sewing and my pieces are not the same size.

In life, I am not perfect. My ears probably aren’t level, my nose might be off center, my hair is thin, and I sniffle when I am concentrating on something. But that’s part of being handmade. The beauty is in the slight variation from one person to another.

“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in …’your’ hand.”

Zechariah 4:10

Where do you see your imperfections? They aren’t bad – they are just the slight variations in coloring that make the fabric of your life interesting! Grab the plumb line and go to it!

When I sew, I use special feet on my machine to ensure the desired results. My 1/4 inch foot helps me keep my seam exactly at 1/4 inch width. The button hole foot delivers a perfect button hole every time. The button foot enables me to sew a button on in exactly the right place with ease.

What do you have in your life that helps keep you on track, ensuring a good outcome every time?

Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.

Psalm 1:1-3

I think this might be the safeguard we are looking for…don’t make fools your closest advisors, surround yourself with wise people and delight in the Word of the Lord.

Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts. Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth; avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip. Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions. Watch your step, and the road will stretch out smooth before you. Look neither right nor left; leave evil in the dust.

Proverbs 4:23-27

The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

1 Corinthians 10:13

Sewing requires a certain amount of precision. I piece quite a few quilt tops. If you wonder what I do with all of them, I do too. Maybe they will become wedding gifts…who knows.

Piecing requires a great deal of precision. Generally, a one quarter inch seam allowance is required for accurate piecing. Actually, though, it doesn’t matter what seam allowance you use, you just need to be consistent. If you sew all the seams the same width, your piecing will match exactly.

If you vary the seam by even 1/16th of an inch, it matters. It doesn’ t seem like much, but after 16 blocks that are varied by 1/16th of an inch, you will be off an entire inch. And that is very noticeable. But it happens so easily!

I have a helper when I sew. It is a foot for my machine with a 1/4 inch guide built right in. It helps me to stay on track and gives me a consistent seam width every time. It is possible to stray a bit, even with the specialized foot. But for the most part, it keeps me on the right track.

The importance of the small decisions is not lost on me in life. Just like wavering just a tiny bit over many seams causes me to be way off on my project, wavering in life over a long period of time also gets me way off where I want to be.

Read: 2 Samuel 11:1-5

David was the king of Israel and a man after God’s heart. He wanted to do the right thing. But this time, he wandered just a little at a time until he was a long way from where he wanted to be. If you have never read the story of David’s failure, it is well worth your time. Read 2 Samuel 11-12 for the full story.

David’s wandering resulted in adultery, murder and the death of his child. There were opportunities all along the way to correct his trajectory, but he didn’t do it.

Kings normally go to war in the spring. David stayed home.

David napped while his men defended the kingdom.

He noticed a beautiful woman who was not his wife. He could have looked the other way. He didn’t. He sent his people to find out who she was.

He learned she was another man’s wife. He could have stopped with that information. He didn’t. He brought her to his home.

David didn’t just fall into adultery and murder. He took small steps that led to a big downfall.

No one crumbles in a day. Are you making small compromises that take you away from where you want to be? Are the small choices leading you to big consequences?