Reflections – June/July 2017
Lifting the shades in our bedroom, I was greeted to yet another gloomy morning with puddles from last night’s rain. Still, it wasn’t the gloom I focused on. For against this grey backdrop the beauty of spring had come dancing in like a dainty fairy princess garbed in delicate shades of yellow, pink, white, lavender, and pale green. The trees and shrubs, which last spring failed to blossom due to below zero temperatures around Valentine’s Day following an unusually warm winter, seem to be fairly shouting this year, “It’s a new season!”
For weeks now I’ve been engulfed in the unique beauty and fragrance of this particular season. After a long, cold winter, it’s a season marked by anticipation, and the continued cool weather has prolonged the beauty. I breathe it in, savoring each day, reluctant to see any of it fade and ultimately give way to summer. Then I stop to contemplate that each season brings its unique purpose. Spring ushers in preparation. Summer will bring fruitfulness. Autumn speaks of harvest while winter is a time of rest. So like the natural world, our spiritual lives and our life in the body of Christ advances through seasons.
Reluctance to move with the Lord into new ventures is as futile and counterproductive as trying to hang onto the preceding season. The old and familiar may be comfortable and relevant for a time; yet the old also can hold us back from advancing with God into new territory. Lingering too long in the familiar may make us ripe to miss the fruitfulness and the harvest.
I imagine Paul, as the Lord led him from one unfamiliar place to another, with a series of faces that weren’t always ready for his new Kingdom message of Jesus Christ intruding into their comfortable pagan culture. Reading through the book of Acts, you will join Paul on an epic journey into the unknown, fraught with both dangers and opportunities, a few setbacks and disappointments, but an abundance of rewards for the Kingdom? Many questions accompanied him. Where would he live? What would be his source of food? Would he find welcome or rejection? And the Lord didn’t provide him with direct, reassuring answers in the preparation stage. He had to trust in the goodness and faithfulness of the Lord in order to advance His kingdom. He had to be a risk taker. Sometimes he stayed for an extended period of time, ministering Jesus to those who were eager to hear. Other times, it became necessary for him to escape under the cover of darkness to save his own life.
Sometimes the question in ministry is, “Are we willing to embrace the new?” Remaining in the old mold for too long produces fatigue, much like flying an airplane for too many years produces structural fatigue on the airframe. Moving into the new often feels risky with all its uncertainties, but it brings exhilaration as well. Embracing the new things God is doing is neither a rejection nor a repudiation of the old season; rather, it is a pathway that takes us into fruitfulness and harvest.
I love watching springtime gradually emerge. And on inclement days, I enjoy it from the comfort, safety, and coziness of my home. But as spring transitions into summer, I need to also embrace the tasks at hand by going out and working in the gardens (yes, even when it is hot and I am feeling lazy) so it will produce fruit (or an abundance of flowers), and bring forth a harvest in the autumn. While the seasons of God are not as well defined as our recurring earthly seasonal changes, they are nevertheless much like a train on a track that has a destination and a timetable of its own, with the Lord as its engineer. And on His journey, His objective is to pick up seasoned workers and new believers in Christ for their eternal destination and His kingdom purposes to be fulfilled along the way.
In the distance I can hear His train rumbling through the countryside, about to enter our station. And before you know it, He will be shouting,”All aboard!” Are you ready and eager to embark on this next phase of our exciting adventure with Him?
Blessings in Christ,