You haven’t changed a bit!

John A. Braun

Life takes us on different paths, and sometimes those paths recross after a few years. Then we see the faces and eyes of former friends we respect and care about. After looks of recognition and warm smiles, one or the other says, “You haven’t changed a bit.” We sometimes respond, “Neither have you.” Sometimes those comments cannot stand the test of truth. Instead, it’s wishful thinking or a sincere compliment that comes close to meaning, “It’s so good to see you.”

It’s different than seeing someone daily or even looking at ourselves in the mirror every day. We don’t notice the little changes that take place. The person staring back is the same person who was there yesterday and the day before. But seeing someone after a long absence is different. That person is the same person, but at the same time that person is not the same. Paths lead through time, and time changes us all.

We might hold on to the illusion that we haven’t changed a bit, but, if you want a dose of reality, jar your memory with photos taken a few years ago. I’ve done it. I can do that because it’s been a few years since I was a young father and pastor. Looking at the photos, I become aware that I’ve changed. Go back and look at your own pictures. It doesn’t have to be a long time ago. Just a few years. It’s not an exercise only for senior citizens.

Whether we admit it or not, we don’t think the way we used to either. Life has brought lessons that altered the way we look at things. But the daily, monthly, and annual lessons somehow get mixed into the large pot of our experiences. We taste the new ingredients, but the soup remains pretty much the same.

So we change. We don’t always notice until we try to match our youthful memories with the faces that have grown old over the years. Maybe it’s just that we get too busy with life that we don’t notice the changes. Maybe it’s because we don’t want to admit we are changing and growing older. Maybe it’s a bit of both.

Whether we want to admit it or not, every day is a day closer to the end of our days. The faces we see—our own and those we care about—are all headed in the same direction. We can’t change that stark—and sometimes harsh—reality. Is it possible that we are so busy denying the end of our lives that when we think about it we somehow think life will go on just as it has? We won’t change a bit; we’ll just go on.

Not so, of course. But that’s why Easter is so important. Here on Earth, we change, grow old, and eventually are included in the obituaries. Medical science may cure diseases but cannot cure death. But because of Jesus we have a cure for death. He willingly died to bring us forgiveness and peace with God. But he did not stay dead. He rose and promised that because he lives so will we (John 14:19). That’s our hope, based on the empty tomb and the words of the One who overcame death.

And change. Think about the promise we have about how we will change. We will rise from our graves, and Jesus “by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:21).

Then we can say, “You have changed for the better.”


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Author: John A. Braun
Volume 103, Number 4
Issue: April 2016

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