When we look at the world around us, at face value, everything is beautiful (especially this time of year). The leaves are various different colors, the sun rises and sets in a multitude of colors, and the wind leads the leaves in a beautiful song and dance. The sun shines, but the warmth comes from a comfy sweatshirt and cup of hot cocoa is the frosting on top of your favorite cupcake. Families and friends gather together to bake their favorite apple dessert and share stories of times passed. The smiles and joy filling the air is as sweet as freshly made maple sugar candies.
But if you stop and really take it all in, the reality of beauty is more than surface level. The chill in the air is the subtle reminder that while a sweatshirt might do today, snow and ice isn’t too far around the corner. The colors of fall might be a beautiful sight, but the strong winds remind us that the leaves are dying and leaving the trees to fend for themselves. While some people enjoy the comforts of fall, others only see it as a cold, dying season with winter around the corner.
While snowflakes begin to soften the sounds of everyday life, and nature goes into a hibernation, the gray clouds come to stay while the blue skies only come out every once and a while to remind us they haven’t gone too far. Some find the snow as a beautiful, welcoming invitation to trek to the mountains, but leads others indoors to follow in the theme of hibernation. The sun leaves us in the midst of the afternoon, and the darkness is accompanied by the chill that only the winter air can bring.
For a few months, everything just freezes. Time slows down and cold dark nights are found where long, summer nights were not too long ago. It’s no surprise that with the changing of the season, we find ourselves changing with it.
That my friends, is a metaphor for our lives.
Seasons of our lives come and go just like we see in nature. Sometimes they sneak up on us like changing leaves on a summer night, and other times their long and drawn out like a New England winter that just. won’t. go. away.
Not everything in our lives is meant to stick around forever and we aren’t meant to stay in the same place forever. Just as a baby grows up into a toddler, a toddler to a child, a child to a teenager, and so on… we too change in the seasons that weave throughout our lives. Some are easier to go through than others, but in every season there’s a lesson to be learned. There’s victories to be celebrated on the mountain tops, and there’s joy and endurance to be developed in the depths of the valleys.
How can James in the first chapter of his book state to consider it PURE JOY when you face trials and tribulations of many kinds? Because he knows the fruit that comes from the testing of our faith. Just as there is the promise of new growth on the trees after a cold, harsh winter, there is also the promise of new growth on the other side of a hurtful season or circumstance in our life. It’s in the testing of our faith that we develop perseverance and endurance to run the race set before us. It’s when everything around us is in it’s own state of chaos, nothing makes sense, and no one truly understands what we’re going through that creates a make or break moment in our lives. There’s pressure, there’s hurt, there’s confusion, and (maybe the worst) there’s silence.
But that’s where you find yourself and God. Alone. Together.
It may not be pretty, but it’s all God needs. You. Your heart. Your mess.
My friends, faith is messy. It’s not some pretty little gift-wrapped present that’s neat and presentable. I didn’t understand what true faith looked like until I went through some of the hardest seasons of my life. But, you know what you also find in that place? Joy. Pure joy.
Psalm 91 starts off by saying “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.'” When life is dark and uncertain, enter into rest. Find the grace to take it easy on yourself and quiet the noises of everyday life to tune in to His still, small voice. Seasons of life may leave us broken and bruised, but in the shelter of God’s shadow, there is healing and peace. It’s where your faith starts to be defined and finds it’s strength. It’s where you find joy when joy is hard to come by.
So, whatever season you may find yourself today, take time to reflect. Trust the changing of the seasons. If God has allowed you to come to it, know that He will be faithful to bring you through it. You’re stronger than you know because of the One who created you. Just as the blue skies and warmer nights return with winter fading into spring, so to will restoration be brought to you in whatever season you find yourself in. Weeping may endure for the night, but joy is promised to come in the morning.
There’s beauty and joy in every season we go through. There’s victories and lessons on the mountain tops, and there are victories and lesson in the valleys and deserts. But through it all, God is faithful. I pray you always take the time to notice it.
Love and blessings,
Lauren K. ❤