It happens every fall: the leaves turn color and fall to the ground.
We then have to go out and rake the leaves, only to find more leaves on the ground when we’re done. It can many times be a frustrating experience.
Yet, when we really think about it, how much of our lives are constants? Every year the leaves fall and need to be raked. Every year the lawn needs constant mowing. Hair grows and needs cutting. The same meal gets eaten time after time.
Constants, after all, are unavoidable. Constants are much vilified in the media; after all, no one begins a marketing campaign by advertising that they are selling the same old product. New! Exciting! Different! That’s what people seem to seek. Anything, however, can become a constant. After awhile, that which is new becomes old. That which is different will become normal. Constancy always seems to win out.
Since constancy is unavoidable, how do we view and handle it? Many times constancy is viewed in terms of monotony and drudgery. Doing the same thing over and over again just becomes tiring, and all we want to do is to get out and do something else. It’s very difficult to persevere with this attitude, and if the incentives are perceived to not be worth the effort, there will be little reason to continue the constant. We have the choice, however, to look at it another way. We can decide to seek meaning and/or to be thankful for the constants in our lives. Meal after meal may seem to get boring, but at least we have meals to eat. Work may be repetitious, but at least it provides the ability to provide for the household.
What about the spiritual constants in our lives? How are we deciding to view them?
We are to assemble with the saints constantly (Hebrews 10:24). Do we look at the assembly as drudgery, a three-hour weekly sentence? Or are we thankful for our brethren and the opportunity to encourage one another often?
We partake of the Lord’s Supper weekly (1 Corinthians 11:23-27, Acts 20:7). Have we made it an empty ritual we do because of a sense of obligation, or do we seek to remember our Lord and rejoice in the communion of the saints?
Prayer and song are to be constantly a part of our lives (1 Corinthians 14:13-16, 1 Thessalonians 5:17, James 5:13, Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16). Do we just let the prayers and songs roll off our tongue in a mechanized way, or do we appreciate the opportunity to make our petitions before our Lord and gain encouragement by considering the great messages within the songs we sing?
Spiritual constants remain outside of the assembly also. We can do all we can to help the poor (Galatians 6:10, James 1:27), but we always have more people who have requests. Do we begrudgingly continue to try to help, or are we constantly in remembrance that we should thankfully give to others since God has given us so much? We strive to proclaim the Word of God to the people in our lives (Matthew 28:18-20). Do we get discouraged when we do not see results? Does the constant chorus of negative responses and indifference get us down? Consider the prophets to Israel: Isaiah, Hosea, Amos, and many others preached the need for repentance to the people for decades, and they did not listen. Yet, it is as it is written in Zechariah 1:4-6:
Be ye not as your fathers, unto whom the former prophets cried, saying,
“Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Return ye now from your evil ways, and from your evil doings: but they did not hear, nor hearken unto me,” saith the LORD. Your fathers, where are they? and the prophets, do they live for ever? But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not overtake your fathers? and they turned and said,
“Like as the LORD of hosts thought to do unto us, according to our ways, and according to our doings, so hath he dealt with us. “
The sons learned and did not follow in the idolatry of their fathers. Despite the many trials of evangelism, we must take comfort in realizing that our efforts are not in vain in the Lord (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:58). We can choose to look at evangelism as showing the love of God to others, just as He has loved us, and may God get the glory.
Yes, constants are unavoidable. Our attitudes regarding constants, however, can change. We can decide to look at life in terms of monotonous drudgery, making ourselves and those around us miserable, or we can learn to appreciate constants and make them meaningful to us. You can focus on the leaves as they are beautiful on the tree or as the drudgery of leaves needing raking on the ground; you can focus on how boring the same old spiritual constants seem to be, or you can find meaning and appreciation in remembering what God has done for us while encouraging the saints. What shall we choose?
Ethan R. Longhenry