Thursday, July 15, 2010
Anyone who has read the book of Ecclesiastes will know the familiar passage about time. “There is a time for everything…” We’ve all heard it so frequently that often it’s meaning is lost or it falls upon ears that refuse to hear. We all know that life has its seasons, and everything has a season all its own. Frankly, in the thick of life’s most trying times, this wisdom can seem pithy and trite because of its overuse. But despite that, this concept of the seasons of life is just that- wisdom, priceless wisdom.
Think about it in terms of the physical seasons. Spring, summer, autumn, winter. I’m sure there are a few Pollyannas out there who enjoy everything about every season, but most people I know love some seasons and can’t stand others. For instance, I hate summer. A day does not go by from May to October (some years, even into November) that I do not wish God had left summer out of the yearly rotation. I loathe the sticky, strangling heat that lasts long into the night. I abhor the blinding brightness of the sun bearing down on the earth, the heat shimmying up from the pavement in waves. I detest the fact that my sun-heated leather seats burn my derrière every time I get in my car. I hate summer.
Winter, on the other hand, has always been and forever will be my favorite season. Bring on the fog, frost, and freezing temperatures. The cold weather makes me come alive, draws me outdoors to enjoy the haunting beauty of grey skies and icy rain. As far back as I can remember I have been enchanted by any and all of the monochromatic winter landscapes that God paints across the earth. But as smitten as I am by winter’s charms, I admit that that summer is necessary. Without the heat and sunlight of my least favorite season, crops would not grow, and there could be no fall harvest. And there are even a few enjoyable things about summer. The joy of splashing into cool lake water, the magical glittering of fireflies, the smell of honeysuckle floating in on the morning breeze. If it weren’t for summer, there would be no watermelon, no iced tea, no evenings spent watching the sunset from a front-porch swing. Summer teaches me every year to be patient as I pine for winter’s arrival, and I am forced to find things to appreciate about a season that I find most aggravating. Despite all that I detest about the summer months, I recognize it’s benefits, and moreover, its necessity.
Such are the seasons of life. The delights and hardships of life ebb and flow, and no one is going to enjoy every season of his life. Still there is joy to be found and benefits to be reaped from every season of life. Seasons of loneliness can wean one of a dependency on others and lead one to lean on Christ alone. Periods of relationship struggles can teach humility and result in a more others-centered attitude. Spells of financial hardships can equip one with wisdom in monetary matters and release one from a materialistic lifestyle. Times marked by heartbreak can open one’s eyes to the faithfulness of God and His unending love. Yes, these seasons are inconvenient, unpleasant, even agonizing. But just like summer, the unpleasant seasons are often necessary. How often do we grow in character and faith during the blissful, worry-free seasons of life? As the scorching heat and blistering sunlight bring crops to fruition, so the challenges and ordeals of life’s more trying seasons bring about growth in us when we persevere through them.
Like the physical seasons, the sorrowful seasons of life do not last forever- the heat will eventually be replaced by cooler temperatures, the beating rays of the sun will soften, and the long-anticipated reprieve of “winter” will arrive. The “summers” of life will be more bearable if your focus is on Christ and you allow Him to edify you and bless you in each season of your journey through earth. Remember that Old Man Time doesn’t stop for anyone, and he never makes U-turns. Take the time to find the splendor in every circumstance, and make the most of every season, because once a season passes, you can’t get it back. You can’t go back and glean the lessons and growth that you missed along the way. So keep your eyes open, and keep your heart hopeful, because winter will come.