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.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (NIV)
My daughter and I have grown to love the stream where we live, even as it changes throughout the year. Whether it is sitting on the beach skipping rocks with dragonflies perched on the cattails in the spring, or the mist rising off the water into the crisp morning air of fall, it has become a place of community and celebration for us. In each season, we have experienced beauty and pain, either in our own lives or by observing the changes experienced by the landscape itself. I have come to appreciate the seasons equally for their amazing differences and subtle commonalities.
It has been fascinating watching the trees next to the stream, especially a large mimosa, as the seasons pass by. There are several other mimosas on the property, but only one next to the stream. It is definitely larger and tends to get leaves earlier and lose them later. In other words, its proximity to the stream helps it handle the seasons better, but it does not eliminate the seasons. So the tree grows stronger, produces more fruit and sinks its roots deep into fertile soil, but the world around it is still the same.
We are in the same situation. We may grow strong in our understanding of God and His Word. We may produce good and plentiful fruit through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We may sink our roots into the rich soil of God’s love, mercy and grace. But the world around us remains the same; the seasons still change, the weeds still grow and the storms still rage. The difference is not in what we experience in this life, it is how we experience it.
For those who root themselves in Christ, each season is a time to grow stronger for the season to come. This is why we can come to cherish each of the seasons of life. We are no longer defined by those seasons as they come and go, but by the One who gives us a life abundantly in the midst of every season. In Him the winter is as rich and full of purpose as the summer, and the shedding of leaves just as meaningful as their bursting forth in spring. This, however, is not an easy reality to grasp in a world that values change for its own sake. The question we need to ask ourselves is “Am I handling the inconsistencies of life better today than I did last week, last month or last year?” If not, it may be a matter of moving closer to the stream and sinking your roots deeper and deeper. If so, don’t settle for where you are; keep digging deeper. If we don’t look just like Jesus, there’s still room to grow.