We have a problem every summer. A mysterious, ugly plant appears in our front garden, right by our porch. Well, it’s no longer a mystery since we all know by now what it is but everyone pretends we don’t. We ignore it’s exponential growth, we overlook the way it obnoxiously crawls over our walkway and our guests need to take a detour just to get to our front door. Finally, one day in late August, someone will make the flabbergasted yet equally expected announcement: “Guys, there are PUMPKINS growing in the front yard!”
It’s one of the first signs that fall is on its way.
Summer is ending. Signs of it’s departure are everywhere — the big yellow school buses that make my drive to work just a hint more stressful; the cool mornings ideal for early runs; the “autumn glow” just as the sun is setting.
Today our Junior High Sunday School class graduated and we said bittersweet farewells to girls who have grown so much in the past year. My sisters and I are also affected by this “growing up” phenomenon — now all out of high school, I watch my younger sister head off to college and my older sister to grad school. Both our trampoline and our pool were taken down this year, mementos of our childhood, reminders that snapshots in time do not last forever.
I love the changing seasons. The way nature naturally slips into a new mood and dons a new look. Familiar patterns fading away and making room for new ones. It’s a soothing reminder that though “time like an ever rolling stream” is fleeting so quickly by, God remains faithfully just the same as the seasons faithfully change every year.
Summer and winter and sprintime and harvest. Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above. Held together by the Author of Redemptive history.
Just as I am.
All the changes I see around me are symbolic of God doing new things inside me, the Holy Spirit changing me.
I am learning that sometimes I need to go through ugly times — vine-y, awkward growing stages — before I see the beautiful results God is planning all along. Often I resist from the change process, afraid of the pain it may inflict. When He touches the sensitive parts of me — that one relationship, that one sin I won’t let go, that one fear I can’t overcome — I cringe, much in the same way I shrink back from getting a shot at the doctor’s office, though I know the vaccine is for my good.
And yet where there is pain, there is also life. Where there is the seed of Christ’s life, there His Holy Spirit is moving and making with gentle, gracious hands. I may need to spend some uncomfortable time in the dirty “depths” so I might “learn by paradox that the way down is the way up, that to be low is to be high, that the broken heart is the healed heart, that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit, that the repenting soul is the victorious soul, that to have nothing is to possess all, that to bear the cross is to wear the crown, that to give is to receive, that the valley is the place of vision” (Valley of Vision xxiv).
Sometimes I appear a haphazard weed, but God sees me as a work in progress, planted with care and being prepared in time for the harvest.
Let us fear the LORD our God, who gives the rain in its season, the autumn rain and the spring rain, and keeps for us the weeks appointed for the harvest.’ (Jeremiah 5:24). He is working His way — in history, in Creation, and in the garden of my heart.
Yes, from this overgrown tangle, You are making something beautiful. And for that I join with all nature in manifold witness to Your great faithfulness, mercy and love.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven….
He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end…..I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him.