And we know that for those who love God all things (no matter what the season) work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 (emphasis added)
While at a men’s retreat recently, we were given an extended time to be alone with God; something my hurried soul needed. It was a cold and windy fall day so I decided to stay inside where I found a seat looking out a large window. It was there that I fixed my gaze on a huge oak tree with its brownish leaves nearly all gone.
In that moment, something hit my heart about the phases of our lives as displayed in the trees all around me.
Fall: As temperatures cool down the tree’s life giving sap slows to a crawl which reduces the nutrients to the leaves….leaves slowly change color and start to die and then fall the ground. Fall is the buffer between the intense growth and life of summer and the apparent lifelessness of winter.
Winter: Winter is the picture of death. While things look bleak for the tree on the outside, the tree is still alive, it just looks dead. Inside the sap stop moving and slowly hardens. Limbs crack and break and are stiff to the touch.
Spring: Things warm up, the sap begins to move, spring rains fall, bright lime green leaves bloom, bees busily pollinate tree blooms and new limbs sprout. A sort of resurrection happens and there’s life anew for the tree.
Summer: The tree experiences tremendous growth in the summer, leaves are in their full bloom…kids ecstatically climb the strong branches; birds build new homes there, squirrels frantically move from limb to limb. Heavenly magnolia and silk tree smells waft from each magnificant bloom.
Then there’s us humans….who travel nearly the same road as our friends the trees; just sometimes in different order and for longer periods.
Fall: The sense of the fall in our lives can last 2 days, 2 months or 2 years. In the fall some of the essence our being seems to leave. We feel things are slipping away. Things are less lively, less fragrant; things begin to grow gold and brown and less vibrant. It feels like we have fewer friends and hobbies and life is less fun. It can be a season with a sense of loss.
Winter: The winter of our lives is much more than growing old. It’s those times when things seem dead. Our hearts feel empty, we’re discouraged by life and perhaps we feel distant from God. We likely doubt our purpose and value in the world. Like the tree, however, there is life….it’s just deeply hidden.
Spring: Sparks of life come along. A friend reaches out. We hear words of affirmation, healing, hope, grace and life. We read a book that strikes a chord. We connect with God in some new way. We reconnect to an old hobby. We begin to see the wonder that God created in those around us and in ourselves.
Summer: The summers of our lives are full of love, hope, growth and good times that seem to last forever. Playing ping pong on the neighbors carport or staying out late with friends down the street. We feel connected to the world around us, we laugh, we embrace those we love, we give of our talents, we worship God with vigor. All seems right.
We love the summers of our life.
Yet we know that the coming fall portends death….and in the death of winter, we drag on and cry out for life renewal and healing and in spring, we remember the life we once knew and we celebrate the majesty of redemption – in trees and in man.
God is with us I all the seasons of our life. He is our constant companion in times of struggle, pain, loss, death, renewal and joy. Lean on Him and give Him thanks “in all things”.
Give thanks in all circumstances (seasons); for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:13 (emphasis added)