John Bressler-030411Listen to John Bressler read his weekly inspirational column.
I started working full time and in the managing training program with JC Penney three days after receiving my BBA and was told on the very first day of a promising career, "Forget everything you were taught. We'll make a retailer out of you." And they did.
A few years later, Julie and I were visiting her sister down in Clearwater, Florida, and her husband said, "John, there is a great company in this area called Maas Brothers and are on the verge of expanding. I know one of the vice presidents and he'd love to talk to you." To make a long story short, I was comfortable with the Penney company, but figured, 'Why not?' Four weeks later, I found myself running the first floor of a downtown up-scale department store and in the midst of a business that would impact the entire lower west coast of Florida. Here was a young man from West Virginia involved in the ground breaking for key stores in huge shopping centers from Gainesville to Tampa.
For several years, Maas Brothers was unique and at the forefront of fashion and innovation. Then something happened. Maas Brothers was purchased by Allied and very slowly, almost imperceptibly, our merchandise was less exclusive and our well-known personal service began to be replaced by profit motive. Don't call me and tell me I just don't understand the bottom line. When making money is more important than making customers, some major adjustments are right around the corner.
I left just as Allied was being purchased by Federated. Julie and I visited our family sometime between my second and third year of seminary and quickly discovered that Maas Brothers was no more. Those beautiful and wonderful stores with gourmet restaurants and carpeted floors and the latest fashions were gone!
I could see it coming, but I just didn't believe it would actually happen.
Hey! I know change is inevitable. I also know that we must never allow change to happen without realizing that we must be in control to ensure that we never lose that which is the foundation of the past, the present and the future.
Some changes seem to be, have been, will be inevitable. Whether it's fashion, climate, political, medical, scientific or mental - you name your own - only time will tell if we can deal with the results or try to change it again. One thing seems to be certain: we can't go back in time and start over. In fact, maybe we shouldn't. If God has taught us anything in these brief lifetimes, it is that we are to learn from our mistakes, celebrate our opportunities and keep on trying.
While we cannot rely on our ability to change completely, to repent fully or to reinvent our person satisfactorily, we can rest assured this one immutable and absolute fact: God does not change! His promises are irrevocable!
I can almost hear the minds clicking and the pages turning. Here's my position: Malachi teaches, "I the Lord do not change." Numbers 23:19 reads, "God is not a man that He should change his mind. Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and then not fulfill?" If you aren't checking out Genesis 6:6 and Jonah 3:10, then I suggest you do because you might accurately point out that we seem to have a conflict. What we actually have is the Word of the God who says, "I said I would destroy or punish this land or this people. However, they have seen the light and have changed, have repented and have chosen to follow me and my demands. I will not destroy or punish. My decision is final and it is as it should be!"
God may have moved from anger or compassion, from destruction to restoration and from darkness to light, but God acted as only God can act. He makes the perfect decision. He will not and cannot make any other decision! Why? Because He is God!
I can relax. I can smile. I can rest. Thanks be to God. He never changes.