Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall, all you have to do is call

life is made up of all different sorts of seasons.

The first six months of this year were filled with different experiences for me:

My son got engaged and we couldn’t have been more happy, then a dear friend died and I attended his Thanksgiving Service and then I was  unwell, only a heavy cold but it knocked me for six, then we had builders working on our home for ten weeks, we had a holiday in France where a relative broke his arm necessitating a trip to a French A & E, I’ve marked exam papers and finally arrived at a more settled period before preparing for a foreign student coming to stay with us. 17022154_10154199182015800_2736362741751243244_n I’ve been reflecting that life is made up of all sorts of different seasons – it’s not just a straight-line experience of moderate happiness but actually life is made up of highs and lows and everything inbetween.

So often we think that our lives should be happy or easy, certainly not difficult and painful, but the truth is that  life is made up of many challenges. It is through those challenges that we put our faith to the test and we have to find God in the everyday, sometimes even moment by moment.

As I analysed this year’s events I thought about  my son’s engagement. It was absolutely joyful for us as parents, in fact the joy I felt  was beyond what I had anticipated. I already knew that he was going to ask his girlfriend to marry him  but when it actually happened it was so joyful and that was wonderful. But soon afterwards there were the thoughts of: Where will they live?,  When will the wedding be? Will the wedding plans come together?, Will my son be able to get a job after his internship? How will they cope financially? These concerns are probably typical of most mothers but it is so important that we don’t lose our joy through fear or anxiety. We should allow ourselves to experience joy to the full when it comes.

bereavement-1151085_1280Then there was the news that my friend had died. He was such a life-and-soul-of-the-party kind of guy, somebody who had been a friend particularly in my early adult years. He and his wife had been full of fun. I had known that he was unwell and then sadly I heard that he had died. The Thanksgiving Service was such a celebration of him, full of the gospel, full of who he was – quirky and funny, it was a special moment to mark such a great life. But of course I was not a close family member, I was not one of those having to walk through bereavement but I know that we all face bereavements especially as we get older. We begin to go to more funerals than we do weddings. It’s just another season.

 

Seasons are good for us. Seasons bring forth life. Here in the Uk the seasons are clearly different. We have periods of dormancy when nothing is happening above ground but actually it is a time when plants are storing energy for the growth that’s to come. When Spring comes they need all that energy to be put into the growing process. In our lives when we are in those kind of seasons we can feel that nothing is happening or life is isn’t going anywhere but actually these are times when we can dig deep into the resources of God and feed on his word so that we have enough to keep us going  for when we we are in the growing season and feel stretched.

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Then the Summer comes and there is heat and although we associate Summer and the sun with freedom, yes there can be times of great freedom and joy, but the heat can also be a time of intense pressure. I know that was what it felt like when I had breast cancer and at the same time my husband’s job was very uncertain, it was a time of intense pressure. It is at those times too when we are drawing on all that we have stored up during earlier seasons. Then  Autumn comes again , things begin to die and we see the season is changing.

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Sometimes we notice those things in our own lives, particularly as we grow older, or move into different phases. It is a different season now and we can worry about all that it will bring, we can be sad about what is gone, or we can embrace all that God will bring in the new season.

In difficult seasons it is tempting to get into magical thinking – if only this season were over, then I would be ok but we are in danger of missing out on what God has for us now in this very season. (I’ve written about the antidote to magical thinking here)

I want to encourage you that whatever season you are in whether it is a good season or a difficult season, whether you are young or old,  that there will be many more different seasons to come and each one is a place of God’s goodness, a place where we can find him to be faithful and we can hold on to Him because He is good and He will never leave or forsake us. Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall ….. all you have to do is call – on Him.

“The Lord is near to all who call upon Him “ (Ps. 145a)

 

Photo credits
Seasons and Statue pixabay
The other photos are my own and may not be used without permission

 

 

 

The antidote to magical thinking

We can all so easily fall into a kind of magical thinking that goes something like this “if only x would happen

“And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven?” (Acts 1:9-11).

I wonder what the disciples were thinking as Jesus disappeared from sight. I can imagine that it went something along the lines of “if only he would come back”, “I don’t want you to go”, “how will we cope now?” They hadn’t had time to process what was happening when they had an angelic visitation. These angels didn’t seem to do too well on the empathy front! They asked the bereft disciples why they were still looking into heaven. “Well duh! Why do you think?”might well have been their response. But actually those angels were pointing them to a new reality. Jesus had gone but the Holy Spirit was coming.

 

clipper-ship-760430_1920My grandfather used to tell me that when his boat came in he would buy me a doll. I was very small at the time and didn’t know that he didn’t actually have a boat and I used to regularly ask him if his boat had arrived. What I didn’t know was that this was just a kind of magical/wishful thinking – when I am rich I will buy you nice things.

 

We can all so easily fall into a kind of magical thinking that goes something like this “if only x would happen then y will (magically) happen too. If only I get that job, get married, have more time, have more money, more resources for my  project… or when I am well again , when the children are at school THEN I will be satisfied, I will be secure, I will spend time praying and reading my bible, I will give more,  I will be able to achieve what God has called me to, I will be free to help others etc  What is your if only? If only I ………………. then I ……………………… (insert your own).

The disciples were now faced with a life without the physical presence of Jesus, faced with carrying on the mission without him. The angels were encouraging them not to stand looking wishfully at the sky. They didn’t want them to get stuck there.

Sadly we can get stuck in our if only’s. Some of them are really painful to us, some are simply pragmatic but whatever they may be that is not a good place to stay. There is so much more for us than living under a cloud of regret or disappointment.

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The disciples went on to Jerusalem where in the upper room they were filled with the promised Holy Spirit. They now knew that Jesus was with them through the Holy Spirit. In the Isaiah 7:14 Jesus’ birth is foretold and that he shall be called Immanuel which means God with us.

Jesus did indeed live among men but now that he is ascended into heaven he has sent his promised Holy Spirit to each and every one of us. Having Jesus with us in the now is the antidote to magical thinking. We don’t need to wait until x, y or z happens, Jesus is with us NOW! That means that we have all we need for life and godliness now (2 Pet 1:3). In Jesus we have the answer to every aching void, every disappointed hope, every sense of constriction or limitation. God himself has promised to be with us. He will never leave us. Because of that all the resources of God are available to me – all his love, all his power, all his wisdom etc… in fact all of who He is, all of His attributes, all of His mercies. We have already got everything we need right now.

How will I ever find fulfillment in the future if I don’t find fulfillment in Him now? I am learning to take my if onlys to Jesus and to enjoy Him in the present. He truly is everything.

I don’t want to miss out on what He has for me now because I am waiting for my boat to come in.

Photo Credits
Photo by Caleb George on Unsplash
Ship: Pixabay
Screenshot Pixabay