Here in Victoria, one of Australia's cooler states, the seasonal change to February's summer weather has turned my green lawns to straw gold, as temperatures have soared beyond 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit). The changes around me, though, are absolute peanuts in comparison with the major changes people from other parts of the state are facing: the loss of relatives, friends, and homes. May our Lord be their comfort!
Saturday, February 7, 2009, is now marked as the day of the worst fires ever, causing the greatest loss of life and homes in Victoria's history. As temperatures soared and hot northerly winds raged, so did forest and bush fires in so many areas of our beautiful "Garden State".
So close to home.
That Saturday evening, my neighbour called at my home, just as the stillness came after the hurling black dust storms had abated. He was so black that I had difficulty recognizing him. The black dust and clumps of debris were from the fires around us. He came to give me their phone numbers, and to tell me that they were all packed, ready to go, if the fires came any closer. As he set water sprinklers around my home for me, he told me he would come by to get me on their way out, if we had to leave. I was in no way prepared for this, though I'd been watching the news throughout the day.
Though I felt somewhat stunned, after he went back to his own home and family, I knelt before our most merciful God. At first, there was a long silence, as my mind turned every which way. Finally, in prayer, I reset the many giant spiritual sentinels that have been there protecting our neighbourhood for many years. Next, I reset the warring angels in front of the sentinels, then gave thanks to the Lord for His presence and the ever-present ministering angels inside with me.
The evening cooled and remained calm, and gradually, the night air became clear, though the strong smell of smoke from the fires remained. It served as a reminder to continue in intercession for the rest of the state.
In subsequent days, we have seen the ravaging, devastating results of the fires that roared through communities. Naturally, there will be a long-drawn-out aftermath for the victims, and much ongoing prayer is still needed. Forest and bush fires are still burning. Fortunately, our temperatures have remained down throughout the past week. The other blessed good news is that many millions of generously-donated dollars are coming in from all over Australia and around the world. Praise Jesus' almighty name!
Are not our whole lives full of major and minor changes — some good, some not so good? I find that just as I'm getting reasonably good at something, then someone goes and changes things on me. Don't you just hate that? Yet as with all things, major and minor changes are inevitable in this human earthly life. Seasons, circumstances, agreements, promises, arrangements, all aspects of our lives can change at any time. But, amidst all of life's variableness, we can totally rest our faith in this truth: our almighty, all-knowing, ever-present God never changes!
Malachi 3:6a – For I am the Lord, I change not. (KJV)
With God, there is no variableness. He never changes His mind; He never changes His Word; and through His Word, we can truly know Him. All He says is everlasting. He never changes His principles of right and wrong. He never changes Himself. And best of all, He never changes His love for His children. His love is always fresh and in full bloom. His loving heart never alters. His years do not end. He is eternal. God will never let us down, disappoint us, or break any promise.
How perfect the example! How precious the assurance! How wonderful the confidence and trust! He is the Lord. He changes not!
Numbers 23:19 – God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? (KJV)
Prayer: We praise You, Almighty God of truth, that we can ever depend upon You never to change Yourself, or Your Word, or Your love. May we, in our relationships, conduct ourselves with godly faithfulness and integrity in all of our dealings. Thank You, Jesus. We bring the fire victims before Your merciful throne, and we pray in Your lovely name, faithful and true. Amen and Amen.