"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." (Hebrews 13:8 NIV).
We were leaving at five in the morning. No sweat. I would just stay up all night, pack my gear and be there in plenty of time to leave on the college tour with my handful of classmates and a couple of chaperones. This was going to be a trip I'd remember for a long, long time.
Living on my own for the start of my senior year of high school because my grandmother didn't want to go to Florida that early, I had it made. With no one to answer to, I could set my own curfew and be responsible for myself.
Not that I was a partier or trouble-maker. In fact, because I was a pretty levelheaded kid, my parents, with whom I lived in Ohio, allowed me to stay in grandma's house in Florida by myself for three months. No problem.
It originally wasn't going to be that way; grandma was simply going to begin her winter in Florida three months early. But then she changed her mind.
I was already enrolled at the Christian school, what was I going to do now? To my utter amazement, she agreed to let me go anyway and stay in her house, with my parents blessing. By myself, twelve hundred miles away from my folks. And her.
I was almost 18, I could handle it.
The evening before the planned college tour departure, I had everything under control. I got my clothes and other necessities ready and killed time by watching TV. By two o'clock in the morning, I was getting a little tired, so I decided to lay down on the couch, just to rest for a few minutes and catch my second wind.
The telephone ringing brought my back to consiousness. "Are you coming?" the voice on the other end of the line was asking. It was 5:05, and we were supposed to be leaving five minutes ago.
"I'll be there in just a few minutes," I responded, hanging up the phone and gathering my stuff for the car. Fortunately, the church was less than 10 minutes away, so it wouldn't take long. Except that I forgot to pack some food as instructed, since we wouldn't be making any stops until well under way.
There was a grocery store that was open all night on my route to the church, so I stopped, and, being a responsible teen-ager, I bought a box of Twinkies. What's wrong with that, it worked for me?
For the entire length of that college tour, my nickname became Twinkie. It's actually kind of funny, even now when I think about it. That one decison forced upon me by my own irresponsibility, because I could get in the store, buy that box of Twinkies, and get back out quickly. That's what brought me a new name.
It's not something I'm called anymore, and it's not a name that really describes who I am or even who I was at that time. Just a fun name that fit for that scenario, although one friend in particular might still call me Twinkie on occasion, almost 25 years after that trip. And he wasn't even with us.
I'm glad I'm not defined by that moment. I don't think a man in his 40's would garner much respect with a name like Twinkie. How many of us over the years have had special names given to us, defined by the moment but not really defining who we are? Ones that don't last long, because our circumstances, even our character changes?
Aren't you glad the names of God don't change? That his names do define who he is? That the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all our forefathers in the faith is the same God today that he was in their day? That who Jesus is and what he did 2,000 years ago is just as important and available to us today?
It's nice to know that there are some constants in this life, especially when it comes to the One who created and loves us. How confusing would it be if our Lord changed his character, his name? Or needed to? I still enjoy an occasional Twinkie or two now and then, but I sure am glad I am not called by that name any longer. I'm just as glad that our heavenly father never changes, and very grateful that we can.