Dickens and Change

Adapted by Pastor Doc Adkins

Some years ago, I had a college class that included some reading of literary writings from many different times of world history. I can’t say that I really enjoyed the class but I needed it and so had to do the assignment. One suggestion was some literary writings by Charles Dickens.  The only one I knew and “ever” read was, of course, the Christmas Carol, by Dickens. Little did I know that he is known by way more than just this one.  The below is an example of what I mean:

It was, by this time, within an hour of noon, and although a dense vapour still enveloped the city they had left, as if the very breath of its busy people hung over their schemes of gain and profit, and found greater attraction there than in the quiet region above, in the open country it was clear and fair. Occasionally, in some low spots they came upon patches of mist which the sun had not yet driven from their strongholds; but these were soon passed, and as they laboured up the hills beyond, it was pleasant to look down, and see how the sluggish mass rolled heavily off, before the cheering influence of day. A broad, fine, honest sun lighted up the green pastures and dimpled water with the semblance of summer, while it left the travelers all the invigorating freshness of that early time of year. The ground seemed elastic under their feet. . . .

The day wore on, and all these bright colours subsided, and assumed a quieter tint, like young hopes softened down by time, or youthful features by degrees resolving into the calm and serenity of age. But they were scarcely less beautiful in their slow decline, than they had been in their prime; for nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own; and from morning to night, as from the cradle to the grave, is but a succession of changes so gentle and easy, that we can scarcely mark their progress.

—The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby

Charles Dickens idealized the countryside, perhaps because things in his town were often so bleak. Here, in his legendary descriptive style, he reveals the subtleness of God’s seasonal changes as Nicholas and his friend Smike walk through the landscape in springtime.

Just as God does for us in nature, He also changes the seasons of our lives. In Ecclesiastes 3, King Solomon wrote: “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted; . . . a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; . . . a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-5.

Everything must change. Nothing stays the same. Some changes—like the seasonal changes described in Dickens’s works—are expected, beautiful, and welcome. Other changes come unexpectedly, unwanted, and leave us wondering what to do. The answer for changing times is to put your faith in God, who does not change Malachi 3:6. Solomon said that God makes “everything beautiful in its time” Ecclesiastes 3:11. He transforms the winters of our lives into spring. When we accept the changes and ask God to make them beautiful, our faith grows and blooms like His landscapes in springtime.

While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease. Genesis 8:22

 May we take heart in the fact that seasons change to give us a vision of the majesty of God.  Winter is gone and a new season of life has arrived. I so hope that as a “church family” we will see new life, new commitment, new growth and if need be new changes in all our lives we together we serve the Risen Lord.