Hebrews 13:7-8 (TMNT)
“Appreciate your pastoral leaders who gave you the Word of God. Take a good look at the way they live, and let their faithfulness instruct you, as well as their truthfulness. There should be a consistency that runs through us all. For Jesus doesn’t change—yesterday, today, tomorrow, he’s always totally himself.”
In a world of flux and drastic change, there are few places that change is more obvious than in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of most hospitals. Lives, careers, and families are altered forever by death, disease, and disability. I stood by the beds of many such cases in the last few weeks and was made even more aware of my own impotence and fragility, either to alter my own course or to personally alter the courses of those to whom I minister.
One particular 79-year-old gentleman with an advanced case of gangrene in his right leg was facing immediate amputation of the same. His wife introduced me to him and informed me that he was a retired Baptist preacher and had been a prison chaplain for many years. He and I talked together for 15-plus minutes before we got around to talking about the pending amputation. I asked him how the amputation was going to change his life (I was trying to determine how well he was accepting the inevitable). He thought for several minutes as we sat there in silence. Then he spoke only a few words, but rarely has any man spoken more powerful and profound words. He said in a quiet voice, “Well, God doesn’t change!”
Those words were words I needed to hear to put my ministry in the ICU into its proper perspective. Not that I expected that of myself I could do anything, but it is my nature to want to do something myself to help. But I am only an often-feeble channel through which our Lord can minister to the sick and dying. While the lives of people around me are changing in drastic ways, “God doesn’t change!” I really think that this is one of the significant messages that I could and probably should communicate, both in words and deeds, to our patients. In spite of one’s situation, God does not change. He is still there in every way He has always been. Calvary and the death of Jesus did not change God. Persecution throughout the history of the world has not changed God. God is still God, the same God who is without beginning or ending.
I also found it of special interest that the above gentleman’s life demonstrated the principles of Hebrews 13:7-8. As I took a good look at this “retired” pastoral leader, his faithfulness was instructing those around him. His consistency was not altered by the situation, but rather it was a demonstration of God’s faithfulness and permanence throughout life, even unto death. While I had come to minister, he in turn was looking to minister to me and to shore up the faith of those around him.
I have thought much about this since those few words were spoken into my heart. I don’t think I have walked into a single room that I have not felt the effect of those words ministering strength and comfort to my heart and soul. My prayer is that my life will be lived in such a manner that it will demonstrate the faithfulness and permanence of “Jesus [who] doesn’t change—yesterday, today, tomorrow, [who is] always totally Himself.”