The Changing Faces of an Unchanging God

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Hebrews 13:8 (NIV)
Age 10, at a weeknight Baptist revival

The pastor said to come forward if I want to give my heart to Jesus. It’s like a magnet, this force, propelling me to the front. Tears stream as my heart is tugged forward.

13 years old, long after bedtime

A quiet, kindly grandfather, hovering in the heavens. I read the red words in my Bible, but the verilys and thees and thous don’t hold my attention. I pray through my graph-paper list daily: Now I lay me down to sleep… Forgive me of my sins. Heal the sick. Keep me safe. Thank you for everything. Check, check, check—dozens of general wishes, always the same, trying to stay on God’s good side like the good girl I am.

Age 22, my final interview before joining the Catholic Church

Sister Pat once asked us to picture the safest place imaginable—and then imagine that safe place is God. Easy. Newly married, I saw myself encircled by Tim’s strong arms, secure in the knowledge of his love. I stammer, trying to articulate this tenuous insight between the love of my husband and the love of God—nervous to speak it out loud and frightened by the power of an intimate God. As I struggle to find the words, her velvety-soft, aging face lights up with joy.

Age 26, a new mom

I can’t pray. All I can do is bow my head in humble reverence for this new life.

Age 32, just starting to attend a friend’s Pentecostal church

I glance up and see Jesus.

Standing there, unaware of anyone else, my friend Peggy has her head bowed and hands extended, showing me what I’ve never seen before: Jesus as a reachable, touchable God. He leans towards her, His forehead gently resting against hers, tenderly holding her hands. Quiet, private, personal. The intimacy makes me gasp. I might hold out my hands, too, if I thought He would hold me back.

Age 36, at home late at night

A friend talked about feeling like she was God’s favorite. I’ve never felt that, and I want to. The atmosphere is charged, electric, the weight of it on my chest forcing shallow breaths. Show me, Lord, how to take that next step closer to You. I feel ridiculous and incompetent. My faith is so weak. But You are strong, God. You are righteous, and holy, and kind. You are my light, and my strength, and my salvation. I can’t believe You could love me this much. I can’t believe I really am Your favorite. The fluttery wings of butterflies in my stomach take me back to when I was 14 and a boy boldly whispered his love for me. But I know this is the real thing.

Age 41, in my empty church

Lying on my side, head on the Bible, I try to breathe. Mom has cancer. Aggressive, metastatic cancer. I look up, trying not to blame God, but unable to stop the tears. My prayer is a plea—wordless, desperate. As a torrent of turbulent emotions rolls over me, only one word remains. Please. I’m drowning in these waves, topsy-turvy, disoriented, knocked under without any breath left in my lungs. Deep, wrenching, painful sobs.

Surely God is here with me. But all I hear is silence. A big, majestic silence.

Age 45, during worship

I hold up one hand in worship as though I am free and unguarded, while holding fast to the back of the pew with the other, fully grounded. I’ve spoken the words of faith that were expected of me as I lost Mom. But I’m tired of praising God for all He has done because, frankly, I don’t think what He has done is all that great.

Age 50, at a weekend retreat

These women are amazing, God. They’ve shown me so much. Inspired me. Taught me. Embraced me. You hand-picked us and brought us together at this retreat with a bigger purpose in mind—giving us this passion to create a brand new ministry. Thank You, Lord, for this precious gift of sisterhood. Please let others experience this and be inspired to draw even closer to You.

Age 53, writing this post

My relationship with God is complicated.

He has been silent and given me answers I didn’t like. He stood by, seemingly doing nothing, while both of my parents died. While I struggled. While I was angry. He doesn’t always fix things, and He lets bad things happen.

But God has also been my pursuer. My lover. My Father. My deliverer. He has been my source, strength, hope, and light. The One who convicts me, corrects me, and loves me anyway. The One who sees past my failings and soothes me with His grace. Because when I am faithless, He remains faithful (2 Timothy 2:13).

See, God is not just one thing. He is ALL things Click To Tweet

He is wholeness and completion. The Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. He is the God of the Universe, friend. King of Kings, Lord of Lords, our Messiah and Savior. And He loves each one of us with a fervor we can’t truly wrap our heads around.

We serve a limitless, multi-faceted God, but because of our one-of-a-kind personalities, we’ll each see Him in a unique way. Click To Tweet

We’ll never see every facet of God’s face, but we can trust that He will reveal new aspects of Himself to us when we need it the most.

For the next three months, join us as we share the different names of God we’ve experienced in our lives. Some may sound familiar. Others might stretch you and inspire you to seek more of Him. However He shows His face to you, though, know this: Even if our experiences are different, our God is one and the same.

And I’m so thankful to know Him.

Reflection Questions

Make a list of phases of your life in which you saw different aspects of God.

Think about what you learned from each of these times, and ask God to help you know more of Him.

Prayer

Lord, we need to see You. We need to know that You are with us, and that You see all the things happening in our world right now. Show us Your face. Show us more of who You are so that we can begin to grasp just how amazing You are. Please, Lord, transform us to become more like You. Amen.

3 thoughts on “The Changing Faces of an Unchanging God

Jodie

I couldn’t agree more, Kelly—He is ALL things. My strength, my hope, my song, my refuge, and He is the one constant in my changing world. I love the way you shared your phases of life and the different aspects of God through each. My earliest memory of God listening to my cry was at 8 years old when my parents announced they were separating. I still find it amazing that I knew in my heart that He was listening. He is a God who hears our cry.

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    Kelly Stanley

    Oh, that picture breaks my heart and yet gives me such joy. I’m so thankful for your intuitive knowledge of the security and strength of God.

    Reply

Monica Bard

Kelly, your words resonated deep in my heart & gave me chills as I related to the different phases of your personal relationship with God. Isn’t it beautiful how God seeks us until we finally land on His Truth? God IS all things to us, and He alone fulfills all our needs. Thank you for this wonderful reminder, Kelly!

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