Reflections by Dot Cutter – December 2018

Some years autumn comes with one definitive blast of freezing temperatures, wiping out gardens in a flash. Other years it’s a teaser with threats that fail to materialize, and I find myself repeatedly covering the somewhat hardier plants (mums and geraniums), bringing hanging baskets indoors overnight. Successful for awhile; yet summer’s end shows when mums that still look perky in the garden last but a couple of days in a vase. It’s time to let go. Sometimes we try to hang onto a season—agricultural or spiritual—too long after it has served its purpose. Other times, we toss plants and life’s situations onto the compost pile prematurely.

This year’s foliage was certainly less than spectacular. A preponderance of drab olives and tans formed the backdrop of the landscape with an occasional bright yellow. But after many trees had shed their leaves, a secondary display of oranges and reds burst forth. Such indescribable beauty, I thought as I made my way to a conference in a total downpour that balmy morning. By early afternoon, the storm passed, skies cleared, and a biting wind picked up with temperatures beginning their nosedive. The next morning, most of those beautiful leaves were now draped like a colorful skirt around the base of their trees or scattered into nearby fields, swept away by the powerful winds—a mere shadow of what I had marveled at the previous day.

Seasons come and go. Sometimes gradually; other times suddenly. Do we welcome the change or do we cling longingly to the previous season, wistfully recalling what was? Earthly seasons are never static, nor are spiritual seasons. They grow and fade and emerge anew. The Holy Spirit is always advancing God’s kingdom, though we do not always see it, perceive it, or welcome it. Nostalgia can be an inhibitor that blinds us to the new moves of God. What we tend to cling to is often what became the new move of the previous season, which some welcomed and others resisted. But for today—moving forward—will we trust God’s heart and ways, seeking Him, and moving with Him into this new season? Hopefully, we will connect our hearts and spirits with the people of the Old Testament mentioned in Hebrews chapter 11, that great faith chapter, “who by faith judged Him faithful who had promised” (Heb. 11;11).

We never want to abandon the Gospel, but how we proclaim it is subject to the winds of the Holy Spirit. In the end, nothing will remain of those gorgeous red leaves on our cut leaf maple tree (now bare and blanketed in last night’s early winter snowstorm). Surely it will endure yet another season of apparent barrenness. And a new season of rebirth is coming. Sometimes we, too, are called to wipe the slate clean and allow the Holy Spirit to write afresh on it. As we approach Advent and Christmas this year proclaiming “He is coming!” let us remember He has already come, He is with us always, and He is coming again in glory to revitalize, refresh, and awaken those who have yet to respond. May we prepare a place of habitation for Him in our hearts, in our daily lives, in our worship, where we continually seek His Presence and are nourished and refreshed by Him. And when He leads us down some unfamiliar paths for worship or implementing ministry, may our unequivocal answer of faith and trust be, “Yes, Lord.”

Partnering with you all on this blessed journey,
Dot Cutter