In Appreciation of Fall

As each season brings with it its own brand of artistry and appeal, fall brandishes its own unique beauty.

Psalm 74:18 You have fixed all the boundaries of the earth; you have made summer and winter.

Fall, the common name for the season wedged between scorching summer and frigid winter as a boundary separating the extremes. Autumn is its formal name. Most of us prefer its common name, as common is comfortable and without pretense. Fall is quite unpretentious.

Unlike summer and winter which bring with them their hot and cold temperatures, fall is moderate in temperature. Yes, moderate temperature, but not without a few warmer days peppered among the moderate to cool. We bask in those days, face to the sun, eyes closed, with the expression of full enjoyment on our faces.

For many who struggle with the heat of summer, fall has become a favorite season. They look forward to this in-between season as one looks forward to a cool drink after a long walk. Others see fall as a short slide into a long, cold, harsh winter. Fall cannot be enjoyed simply for itself because the anticipation of next season is like a black cloud of impending doom looming largely over them. Fall’s joys are stolen by the worry and dread of the future.

As each season brings with it its own brand of artistry and appeal, fall brandishes its own unique beauty. No other season produces such a spectacular array of tree color. Leaf peepers flock to the north to view fall’s reds, yellows and oranges displayed as a blanket across the landscape of hills, mountains and countryside. It’s glory satisfies the beholder.

But alas, as even the fairest of women, fall’s beauty wanes as its season draws closer to winter. Fall rains and winds strip the leaves from the trees. Acorns and pine cones drop to the earth leaving a harvest of provisions for tree and forest dwellers. The last vegetables have been harvested and the apples have been plucked from the trees. Its comfortably predictable.

Fall; Moderate, colorful, fruitful, predictable and seemingly sage. Such admirable attributes! If I were a season I should like to be fall.

 

Seasons

Last year at Word of Life in upstate New York, Richard Blackaby, author of Seasons of God,  taught four sessions on the subject of seasons.   It gave me great perspective on the seasons of my own life both looking back on the past as well as to what lies ahead.

Seasons are a fact of life.   We can count on there being four seasons every year but those seasons don’t always look the same.  Sometimes spring is cold and seems to come late.  Sometimes summer is hot, dry, and without much rain.  Sometimes warm fall weather lasts into November and sometimes winter has brought us feet of snow .  Every year brings with it its own brand of seasons.

As does life!

I love how Solomon says it Ecclessiates 3:1-8  

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

2 a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

For EVERYTHING.

Everything has a beginning, a time preparation, a time of furrowing and planting and waiting for things to happen and grow.  There is a time of hard work, weeding and toiling under the sun.  There are signs of life but not much fruit.  There is a time when the evidence of your investment and work proves to be fruitful and there is a return on your labor;  harvest season. Then there is a resting season, a time when everything good has been harvested and the ground needs a rest, the people need a rest.  It’s a time when some things die and other things only look like they’ve died but they are simply in a time of complete rest.

Today I am facing a winter season.  As season of letting something go; ceasing to breathe life into something that clearly needs to die.  There is a bit of grief stirring within me.  Saying goodbye to this season is necessary in order to move on the the next thing.  I am reminded of what Paul writes in Philippians:

Philippians 3:13-14

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own.  But one thing I do:  forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

I must let go of one thing in order to grab hold of another.  Just like the playground horizontal ladder.  I cannot move ahead without first letting go of the hand behind me to swing forward to the next wrung.   If I don’t let go, I do not move ahead and neither can those behind me.  Those following me cannot move ahead until I move. Horizontal Playground Ladder

So what’s behind the hesitation to let go?  Why the ambivalence?    It’s easier to hold on to the thing you know, than to let go, trust God and grab hold of the unknown thing that lies ahead.   Living out a faithful life in Christ to the glory of God requires me to let go and trust that God will uphold me with his righteous right hand.   It’s a walk of faith.

Life is reflected in the image of seasons.   I can rest in this season of winter and let go; no need to strive to make things happen.  It is foolish to attempt to harvest when the fruit is gone.   I must see that there is no more to be gained and let go.  No worries about what will happen if something has to end.   God has more for me until He calls me home.  It may be winter now but spring is coming!

And so I rest.