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Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Seasons and Christianity

Autumn is fast approaching. Some places it’s already arrived, trees turning all sorts of golds and reds. Harvests push the farmers to the limits of their energy and time. I used to dread the autumn, even with all the beauty of the trees, because it meant winter was hot on its heels. Or cold on its feet, maybe.

Winter used to make me shiver just thinking about it. Below zero weather. Frozen ground (and feet). Bare trees. No flowers. Heavy coats and boots. Snow slithering down inside my boots, nose growing numb, fingers stiffening with the cold. I knew winter was nature's way to prepare for the coming spring, but it took all the faith I could muster to believe there was life under all the colorless weight of winter.

Spring filled me with hope. First the pretty little crocuses peeked their colorful heads up out of the snow. Next came the buds on the apple trees that burst into beautiful white blooms. The birds sang as loud as they could. Nests of robins, sparrows, blackbirds, and finches, with little cheeps sounding everywhere, begging for one more bite, please mom!

And summer. Ah, summer. No school. Swimming lessons, weekend trips to Yellowstone Park, short breezy haircuts, lying on the lawn naming the clouds, or crawling around trying to find four-leaf clovers. How I loved the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.

Of course, that was when I was much younger and lived much farther north. Now that I live in warmer climes, the approach of winter sounds good—cooler weather and fewer mosquitoes.

It occurred to me that Christianity has a few seasons, too. You might say I’m in the autumn of my life. When I was younger, I dreaded death because life was so full of—well, fun, games, and long weekends.

You might liken spring to when you first give your life to Christ. Life is full of hope and promise and green fields. Falling in love with Christ is a lot like falling in love with your spouse. Exciting. You feel like dancing, shouting from the rooftops that you have been found and loved by Jesus, the Christ.

Summer is a time of ripening, maturing, readying for the harvest. Same with Christianity. The first blush of love may be gone, but instead of going away, its roots sink deep and the fruit of the Spirit ripens.

In the autumn of Christianity, harvests are plentiful. You are less concerned about whether people approve of what you say and more concerned with pleasing God. You open up to the Sonshine and spill seeds of love, compassion, forgiveness to people you might not have a few years before. The trials so prevalent in the spring and summer of our lives begin to ease up a little.

Ah, and winter. I don’t dread the winter any more. In fact I’m looking forward to the next adventure, as one of my friends put it in his last days. My body is tired, my eyesight is fading, and my hearing? Well, let’s just say my husband and I have some interesting conversations. I’m ready for the winter, and I can agree with Horatio G. Spafford’s song, “It is well, it is well with my soul.”
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