October 15, 2013

Changing Seasons

"For everything there is a season,
and a time for every matter under heaven..."
- Ecclesiastes 3:1

When I was a kid, my favorite season was Summer, because that meant we were out on vacation from school. I know many of my classmates were thrilled in the Winter when we would have snow days. As I've gotten older, I've found more pleasure in the flowers and new life visible in the Springtime. Meanwhile, my wife always loves the changing colors of leaves in the Autumn.

There is beauty in every season
Whether you prefer to look forward to the holidays that come in the Winter or the warmer temperatures that come once it's past, there's really something to love about every season - different as each one might be from the rest!

The same thing might be said for the seasons of our lives.

In the Springtime, we are infants and children, just budding forth with new life, growing, learning, becoming what we will be.

In the Summer, we reach adulthood. We hopefully continue to grow, as we sink our roots in deep and spread our branches in many directions.

In the Autumn, we begin to see some of the fruits of our labors. Whether those fruits are good or not depends in part on the decisions we've made and how we live our lives (see Galatians 5:19-23). Having borne good fruits also means we have the ability to spread our blessings around - to create opportunities for new blessings in other places.

Then, in the Winter, there is still beauty when the snow covers the hilltop, because a life well-lived is a beautiful thing in itself, and worthy of respect.

"Young people take pride in their strength, 
but the gray hairs of wisdom are even more beautiful."
- Proverbs 20:29 (CEV)

Of course, there are things we dislike in every season, as well. Children wish to be adults, adults wish they could retire, and seniors often wish they had their youth back. There are also bad things that can happen in any season.Sometimes a stalk is cut down in the prime of life. Sometimes the cold of Winter is just too bitter. And sometimes the transition between seasons seems sudden, jarring, and unwelcome.

But as I meditate on the potential and the beauty of each season, I am comforted by the thought that God is in every season with us. When we go through seasons of growth, God is the one who makes the flowers bud and blossom. When the Summer heat is too hot, God provides us with moments of shade and cool breezes. Even in moments of loss, when the leaves are falling around our feet, God gives beauty to the memories, and he plants the seeds of new things yet to come, so that later, in the death of Winter, he can promise that a time of rebirth is just around the corner!

I don't know if you're a fan of Autumn leaves or not, and I don't know what season you might feel like you're going through in your life. But I do know that in every season, no matter what else is going on, God is there. Look for the signs of beauty, even in the season you're going through right now, and there you will find signs of God's faithfulness and reminders of his blessings.

One of my favorite hymns has always been "Great Is Thy Faithfulness", penned by fellow Kentuckian Thomas O. Chisholm in 1923. The 2nd stanza reads:
"Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.
Great is thy faithfulness!
Great is thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning, new mercies I see;
All I have needed thy hand hath provided;
Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!"
How has God seen you through growing pains or periods of pruning? How has he sheltered you in the rainy seasons or warmed your heart in the deep cold of Winter? How have you seen his faithfulness and his blessings in the midst of the various seasons of your life?

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