From The Garden Bench - Seasons
Words by David Hollows
In a recent media comedy programme this year, 2020, was personified and made 2 observations: the first was to apologise for having been one of the worst years on record because of all that had happened so far and the second was that 2021 should start on October 1st in the hope that 2021 would be a better year with 3 extra months to enjoy better times. What do you think?
This year has certainly been a surprise and not just because of the virus and its outcomes. As we are now in the autumn season we can reflect on the seasons which we have experienced this year:
From November 2019 to February 2020 we had the wettest series of months on record with the ground being so saturated that the farmers struggled to grow and plant from the end of March to the end of May we had a very dry and hot spring again causing massive issues for those who grow and produce food items for us.
We know that in July and August the cold and wet weather has caused a 40% reduction in the wheat harvest which, in turn, will cause a price rise for basics such as bread.
The seasons of this year have also broken weather records: there has been the longest run of tropical night temperatures, there have been unseasonal winds in August, the number of storms has increased this year, the number of hours of sunshine for spring increased.
This reflection is being written on September 8th and already there is a change in the colour of the leaves on some of the trees as the deep reds and pale golds start to cover the trees.
So, is this climate change and global warming? Perhaps, but this is for a discussion another time.
Photo by Christ Lawton via Unsplash
The changing seasons in nature not only act as a natural signpost to the changes in the year but also help us reflect upon our own lives and where we are at. For many of us, we have experienced the spring and summer seasons of our lives and are now in our autumn; we have established careers, raised families, enjoyed homes, friends, education, hobbies and holidays. Now, in the autumn of our lives, we look back and perhaps ask ourselves: would we do it all again?
For some of us, there was little choice especially in the world of work. For others, the outcomes of life have been outside of our control. However, no matter where we are currently, the memories cannot be taken away.
Just as in our lives there have been many people, some more important than others, some having a greater impact than others, some staying only a short time in our lives, so it is with the many characters who appear in the Bible. With many of these characters we are given a mere snapshot of their lives as they come into God’s story when required for a certain focus or purpose: Rahab, Esther, Timothy, Zacchaeus.
There are other characters in the Bible whose lives are presented in much greater detail; Joseph and David are first presented to us as teenagers but we live with them until their death which allows us to compare and contrast as we witness their lives in action and how God uses them in His story.
The lives of John the Baptist and Samson are presented from cradle to grave but there are missing details whereas the Moses biography is complete and we are given the privilege of reading of a life which is used by God. All of these characters teach us so much, not only about them and their context, but also about God and His story. God selects those who He knows will deliver His plan regardless of age, background and ability.
The story of Jesus is well know and documented although again there are gaps until the ministry of Jesus begins and the focus is on the final 3 years of His life.
So, the question is; where are you currently in your life? What is the key focus of your life: family, career, retirement, health, age-related issues? More importantly, what is your current season in your faith? Just as we see in nature the maturing of plants and trees during the cycle of a season, how mature is your faith? What do you believe to be God’s focus on your life right now? Is God using your time and talents to develop your relationship with Him and extend His Kingdom? What is your impact for God on your world and the wider world through service and prayer? Are you still growing in God?
Photo by Greyson Joralemon via Unsplash
Solomon wrote the book in the Bible called Ecclesiastes and in chapter 3 there is a very well-used observation of life: A time for everything. If you have time, please have a read and reflect upon the ideas Solomon presents and match them to your own life experience and especially your relationship with God.
Whatever your season in life, share it with God and ask him to show you what is next.
You may be surprised!
You may find the following hymn useful:
Take time to be holy (Mission Praise 625)
You may find the following prayer helpful:
Gracious God, in the multi-coloured wonder of creation and the heartbeat rhythms of the seasons, we live in the light of Jesus with our days and ways lit up by your Holy Spirit. We bring our darkness and our brightness, all the shades and colours of our lives and the seasons of our experiences before you in worship. We pray that as we seek to draw near to you, we will know you near us and with us as we go.
God bless you