Darkness. An adjustment to our sleep schedules. Our bodies and minds were accustomed to the 24-hour schedule that Daylight Saving Time afforded, and now, we’re still trying to get used to the new time. As we get closer to winter, it’s hard enough to adjust to the shorter and shorter days without the government, or the business community, or whoever it is who lobbies in favor of changing the clocks twice a year. Don’t you think we could keep the same time year-round and still get along just fine?
Some of us complain just as much in the spring. It’s probably not changing the clocks that gets to us - most of our clocks change themselves anyway nowadays; more likely, we just don’t like any changes to our set way of life.
Well, get used to it, folks. Change is inevitable. Because that is true, Benjamin Disraeli said, “Change is inevitable. Change is constant.” Bob Dylan put it this way: “There is nothing so stable as change.” Heraclitus adds, “There is nothing permanent except change.” A more well-known philosopher, Plato, wrote, “All is flux, nothing stays still.”
Better than all of these, however, is the text from Genesis 8:22, which says, “While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, Cold and heat, Summer and winter, And day and night Shall not cease.” Those are words uttered by God to Noah some time after the flood.
Change is inevitable as long as the earth exists. Seasons. Temperatures. Days. Sunlight. No matter how consistent the patterns of nature and creation, somehow, there is still change. Perhaps that is because, even though the seasons of the earth consistently and annually change, we are also dealing with something else - a Constant. With all of our uncertainty and change, it is the Constant upon which we rely.
The Flux of Creation
That’s what we are looking at, this afternoon: the firm among the soft, the Certain among the insecure, Constant among the change. Constant is a mathematical term, so let’s approach this, at least in part, mathematically. Take a look at this list of numbers: 9, 17, 33, 57, 89. Can you find a pattern in these numbers? Probably not immediately. It appears that they are constantly changing, shifting. There is really no consistency in this list - no repeating pattern.
I love that we have four seasons in Southwest Missouri. I don’t want every day to be the same. The changes make things more interesting. I may not enjoy the flux of spring or fall, the sudden rising and unexpected falling of temperatures, the blustery winds, or the abundance of darkness in the winter, and I know I don’t appreciate the time changes that we have to endure twice a year (Spring forward, fall back), but I do like the variety.
There were several young men from China in the exchange program when I was in college. I remember the first time it snowed that winter. It started in the middle of the night. I was awakened not by the snow, but by a half dozen Chinese boys frolicking in the snow outside the dormitory in their underwear. They had never experienced snow. To them, it didn’t matter that there could be ice on the streets or broken power lines. They just saw the snow as amazing and beautiful as it fell in the high spotlight on the pole. How often do I fail to pause and appreciate that instead of offering yearly complaints about the inconvenience and the treachery it can cause.
I wouldn’t want to live in a place that doesn’t experience spring and summer. I like for my 24-hour cycles to be a mixture of sunlight and darkness, and it would just be weird to live in a location that is dark for 23 of the 24 hours every day. Those places still go through the cycle of seasons, and they still have much to offer, but my personal preference is for four distinct seasons.
We read in Genesis 1:14, “Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and they shall serve as signs and for seasons, and for days and years…” Then in chapter 8, as we already read, God tells Noah, “While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, Cold and heat, Summer and winter, And day and night Shall not cease.”
Asaph is a talented poet and singer. He is one of the choir leaders in the tabernacle. In the 74th Psalm, Asaph offers a teaching song, a Maskil, that acknowledges the power of God in defeating His enemies. In the middle of his description of destruction, he reminds himself that God also creates and establishes the rules of nature (verses 16f), saying, “Yours is the day, Yours also is the night; You have prepared the light and the sun. You have established all the boundaries of the earth. You have created summer and winter.”
Psalm 104 is another example. The psalmist is joyful about God’s amazing creation. There is praise for all that God has done and provided - including verse 19: “He made the moon for the seasons; The sun knows the place of its setting.” The writer says, “You appoint darkness and it becomes night, In which all the animals of the forest prowl about.” How often do we pray to God to recognize His power in creation? We might do better to praise Him more often. This psalm, for example, begins and ends with “Bless the Lord, my soul.”
Or maybe when we talk about the seasons, you think of Ecclesiastes. Solomon has lived the life. He can afford anything he wants to buy. He has the most beautiful women at his command, and they’re willing to serve him in every capacity. He has searched for happiness in every nook and cranny. Solomon accomplished many great things - even overseeing the building of the temple in Jerusalem.
But in Ecclesiastes, Solomon repeatedly relates the futility of life. Everything he thought would provide him happiness is meaningless. Regarding the seasons, he writes, starting in Ecclesiastes 3:1, “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every matter under heaven -
A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
A time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance.
A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.
A time to search and a time to give up as lost;
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
A time to be silent and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate;
A time for war and a time for peace.”
When He spun our planet into existence, He did it for us. Our very environment - the way it reacts to gravity, lunar tides, high and low pressure lines, rising and falling ocean temperatures, and mountainous terrains - our very environment is created to be uncertain and changing. It can be frustrating for anyone listening to the TV weather forecaster or checking the Farmers’ Almanac. Most times we get frustrated with our lack of being able to figure it all out. Sometimes we get upset with not knowing where the next mudslide or wildfire will be or when the next flood or drought will affect our area. Occasionally, we get knocked down altogether when the storms strike.
The Flux of Life
And if you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m not just talking about the weather. The storms and changes in our lives hurl at us faster and more ferociously every day. It would seem that no one in history has ever endured the speed of our lives in the 21st Century.
It reminds me of the song Alabama recorded in 1992. The chorus said:
Oh, I rush and rush until life's no fun
All I really gotta do is live and die
But I'm in a hurry and don't know why
That says I'm running behind
I better pick up my pace
It's a race and there ain't
No room for someone in second place
Solomon rightly professes his own confusion in Ecclesiastes, saying there are times of planting and times of harvesting, times to dance and times to mourn, a time for war and a time for peace, etc. He does us a favor by placing all of life into proper perspective, helping us understand that we all go through seasonal changes from birth to maturity, school to career, work to retirement.
We repeat Ecclesiastes 3:11, slower this time: “He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, without the possibility that mankind will find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.” You see, in all of these changes, we (along with Solomon) must look for the Constant.
Looking for the Constant
It’s like those numbers that are hanging over our heads. They don’t make sense to us. There’s nothing constant about them. No perceptible pattern at all. And it perplexes us. The confusion drives us crazy. There just has to be order to things. There has to be a predictable pattern. There has to be a Constant. But it’s just not there.
I always taught my fourth graders to use shark teeth. That’s not a mathematical term; that’s a Hoggattism. We drew shark teeth to connect the numbers, and then we looked for the differences between them in the order that they were displayed. From 9 to 17, we have to add 8. From 17 to 33, we have to add 16. From 33 to 57, there is a difference of 24. To get from there to 89, we add 32. But once again, there is not a constant difference between the numbers. We search and we search, uncovering layer after layer, but we just don’t find any complete security in our answers. These might be our results, but if we turn in these answers to the teacher, we may fail, because the assignment was to find a repeating pattern and we haven’t found it.
Here’s a couple more Googled quotes that I found. The first, by Arnold Bennett, says, “Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by discomforts.” Mr. Bennett probably wasn’t thinking about Daylight Saving Time when he said that, but it certainly applies. And the last quote is from Bertolt Brecht: he said, “Because things are the way they are, things will not stay the way they are.” That one applies to so much that goes on in our world today.
Conclusion and Persuasion
The answers just aren’t within our own physical surroundings. There is certainly mystery built into the creation, but until we look to the creator, those mysteries remain elusive to us. I mean, Daylight Saving Time is not the intent of creation; it is entirely manmade. We are left with the desire to find a Constant to drive our lives…and that occurs when we stop Googling quotes about change and search Scripture for Truth instead.
Hebrews 13:8 explains it like this: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, and forever.” He is the same. When we fail, he doesn't turn His back on us. He remains faithful to us even when we are unfaithful to Him. When we turn away from Him, seeking our own pleasures and when our own survival worries consume us, God remains with us: He never turns aside or wanders away.
And suddenly we see the pattern in the numbers. It took some searching and an extra row of shark teeth, but the creator of the pattern always knew what was there. There is our Constant.
+8 +16 +24 +32
+8 +8 +8