Sometimes I think it would be easier to approach life as our lives were made up of seasons and yet, it is, isn’t it? The seasons of life.
In nature, we experience Fall. It is the season of harvest
. The season when things begin to die back (or die completely). There is a chill in the air and the wind blows mightily as it whips though the trees. The skies seem darker, the days shorter. In the fall, we finish up our preparations for winter. Canning, wood chopping, gathering bales of hay and storing them in barns. We cut some things back, we cover some things up and we close some things down. We know it’s going to get worse before it gets better. And so it comes. Winter.
It can be harsh. Deadly even, if the storm is weighty enough. The hail and the rains and the unending days of heavy snowfalls. Ice so slick that you slip and you slide and sometimes you fall. You don’t want to go outside. You want to hide in the comfort of your own home where you have built a nest of protection, warmth, and safety. After what can seem like forever, you awaken one morning to a glowing sunrise that states Spring has arrived.
You pull back the curtains and open the windows to the crisp, fresh air that still has a bite to it. But, oh! The hope and joy of a new season has finally come. You daily watch for flowers to emerge from the soil where snow once lay and threatened to hold captive that which lay underneath, crying out to be set free. And as these – now just seedlings – begin to grow, the days grow warmer and longer. The air is quiet with gentle sprinklings of rain that you welcome with a smile. And then comes summer.
The sun beats down warm and you are even convinced that as it warms your body, healing is taking place within. Where spring brought new life, this is the season where you’re actually experiencing the growing, the full blooming of it all. Your energy has been renewed. You delight to let your toes touch the water of the vast ocean or lake that is spread before you. This is the season where you, without hesitation or thought of troubles, lift your hands in unabandoned praise to God. Life cannot be better.
But looking back, you can now see how each season had its purpose. And each season gave you the opportunity to prepare for the next. Experience has told us that in the course of nature there will undoubtedly be good with the bad, life will not all be sunshine and roses, and that the storms and the sunshine will come in different degrees, sometimes with nary a warning.
That is the course of nature. Of life itself. Many flowers cannot bloom unless they endure a harsh frost from winter’s bitter cold. Many will not thrive without the water the storms of winter brought upon them. Many flowers cannot grow unless they die first, scattering seeds in fall. Some must be pruned, cut back, in order for the healthy growth of spring. I’m sure if flowers could talk, roses would express their deep disapproval over being pruned. Over and over and over again.
Our spiritual lives are so much like the cycles of nature. We endure the longer days of summer and early fall, move into winter with reluctance (and often kick and scream while there), but spring always comes with the welcome reprieve of summer. Each has their purpose. Each has their pain. Each has their reward.
God prunes where at times we feel we have felt completely uprooted. We feel we’ve been closed up from the rest of the world, shut down from life and covered in muck. There is a deep darkness but little do we feel, and often we forget, that we are being prepared for something more. All the while, we are being called to come and lean into Him. To come into His shelter, experience His warmth, hide in His arms.
It is throught the Falls and the Winters in life that we are actually being strengthened and refined. When the time if right, He gently dries the tears of winter, lifts our chin and gently says, “Look and see.”
Green is now emerging where snow once lay smothering the ground underneath. New life. The sun is breaking though the clouds. We are stronger. Our hope has been restored. We are no longer resisting that which comes, but are walking hand in hand with the Master Gardener, cultivating new life. We’re pulling weeds of sin, making room for new roots to go deeper and deeper into HIm. We no longer feel the need to run to a better climate to escape the torrents of winter, but look ahead with anticipation at what God is going to bring forth. Summer is coming. The harvest will be plentiful. We have learned that Springs and Summers are only made possible by going through Falls and Winters.
Instead of longing for a better climate, a place where winters are mild and summer days are plentiful, why not embrace the call of God to come and rest in Him during the hard times and sit with Him on the patio on the warm, healing days of Summer. Either season is an opportunity of lfting our hands in praise and thankfulness to God for what He has brought us through and where He is taking us now
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. What does the worker gain from his toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on men.
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil–this is the gift of God. Ecclesiastes 3:1-13