It was a clear morning when the family took a dirt road cut-off that edged along the mountaintop. Visibility allowed the sight of layer after layer of blue mountain ranges. They stopped in a meadow overlooking a green valley five thousand feet below to cook breakfast.
The promise of calm was soon broken; however, as they looked across the valley dark thunderclouds began to gather. A slight breeze became a wind, then the blue sky turned black, and rain began to pour on the valley below. The clouds boiled toward them, lightning licking the ridges, and the view disappeared below them. They had just closed the last car door when the rain came. There was nothing to do but sit in the car while the storm worked against them.
In less than an hour, the fury let up. Almost imperceptibly the dark clouds began to lighten - one patch of blue sky, an then another. Soon, light again streamed into the valley and the storm was gone.
The story reminds us of how fast things can change, of what a moment can bring, of how life can be grand one moment and dark the next. Sometimes we're lulled into thinking that nothing ever changes in our world, that one day follows the next with a humdrum sameness. When we are in pain, the trial seems everlasting. The present anguish becomes all there is or ever was. The same is true for those moments of joy. They expand backward and forward to fill all one's history forward and backward.
But just as the storm clouds came and went with imperceptible beginnings - while the family could see only blue sky or were surrounded by drenching darkness, things are changing in our lives far before we are aware. What we must remember, is that life is a variety of experiences; that things do change. That what one moment can bring, another moment can take away.
That knowldege is comforting reality when we are pained. But it is less comforting during happy times. How can we feel secure with full stomachs if we know that tomorrows pantry may be empty? How can we rest assure in another's love when we know that they may be taken?
The answer is there is no assurance, one guarantee - that is the Lord. Through prosperity or despair, his loving arms surround us. Whatever our condition, whatever our plight, whatever our success, he is there. And his constancy tells us something about ourselves too. We are of shining, infinite worth. Whether we write a masterpiece and have financial success, or come in last and struggle for our daily bread, we are still his children. Our sense of self should never rest on something outside ourselves that can be as easily taken away as a view of a storm.
Only one thing is surer than change in this world. It is constancy and eternal companionship of our Lord.
-Pastor Hans Lillejord