A few weeks ago people in my part of the country received a pleasant surprise. Just as summer came to an official end, the weather turned unseasonably warm. The highs were around thirty degrees with lots of sunshine. In other words they were perfect summer days.
Whenever those kind of days come, we know that they aren’t going to last. In Canada we might get a few days when it reaches ten or fifteen degrees in January but we know that we still have a lot of winter to endure before spring arrives. We might get a snowfall in May but we know that it will be gone within a few days.
One of the unalterable laws of nature is that seasons come and go. The temperature is going to drop; the leaves are going to change colour; autumn is going to arrive; and it is going to be followed by winter.
Seasons of life
My wife and I right now are in a season of care-giving. Two weeks ago Gloria’s youngest sister died of cancer. Gloria had the privilege of being with her when she died. I was in New Brunswick and had to cancel some meetings and make a rush trip home so that we could be together for the funeral.
Gloria’s father is eighty-seven years old and in poor health. We don’t know how much longer God will give him but we want to maximize the time that we have left. That involves driving for seven hours to visit with him. It involves a lot of phone calls and texts as Gloria works with her sister to insure that Dad receives the care that he needs.
My Aunt Pearl is ninety-four years of age and living in a retirement home in Toronto. Her health is not good either. We have responsibility for her care which involves attending doctors’ appointments with her which in turn involves a lot of trips into Toronto.
This is the season of life that God has put us in. It is our desire that we will serve these people well. There are times when it is tiring and times when we would just like to stay home on a weekend rather than make still another trip to Huntsville to visit Dad. There are times when we would love to be free of the pressure that goes along with this season but different seasons bring different pressures and one just has to work through them.
It is at these times when the burden feels a little heavy that we have to remind ourselves that what we are facing right now is just a season. In his perfect timing God will take both Dad and Aunt Pearl home and we will no longer have any responsibility for them. When that happens we will enter into a new season of life which will have its own set of joys and responsibilities.
I know that this will happen because I have lived long enough to know that seasons always end and new seasons begin. My wife said to me once that when our children were babies, she didn’t know that it was possible to be as tired as she was and still function. But little babies grow older and that new born season does come to an end.
Some times we look back with longing at a season in our lives and wish that we could experience just a little of it again. I would give almost anything if I could put my children to bed one more time, reading to them, tucking them in and feeling their arms around my neck as they said good night. But that season is gone forever and all that I can do is relive the joys of that season over again in my memory.
Seasons in the church
Seasons come and go not only in our personal lives but also in our churches. Often I have needed to remind myself that what I am experiencing at any given moment is a season that will eventually end as the church moves into a new season of its existence. Often what seems like a huge problem in the moment changes over time.
I don’t mean to suggest that the answer to problems in your church is to do nothing about them and hope that they disappear. That is never a solution to anything but time does have a way of often solving even complex problems. We need to ask ourselves whether the problem is something that demands immediate action or whether time will bring about the necessary changes.
When I first went to one of the churches that I served, there was a booming Sunday school and almost no youth. When I left eight years later there was great concern that the Sunday school was dwindling but there was a youth group with about forty-five teenagers in it. I wished that I could tell you that we had found the magic solution for attracting teenagers to church but in reality all that had happened was that the children in that booming Sunday school had become teenagers who formed the nucleus of the youth program. The church had simply passed from one season in its history in which it had lots of children into a different season in which teenagers predominated.
Seasons in a church can take many different forms. Most churches at some point go through a productive season during which everything that they do seems to go right. They go through seasons of turmoil in which conflict seems to predominate. They go through dry seasons when it seems like they will never have anyone new start to attend their church ever again. They go through seasons of blessing during which it seems like they are constantly celebrating a stream of conversions, new members, new babies or a new pastor.
The good news is that bad seasons don’t last forever.
The bad news is that good seasons don’t last forever.
The secret is to enjoy the good seasons. Celebrate every blessings that comes with those seasons. Then in the bad seasons remind yourself that it is just a season. It isn’t going to last forever. The bad seasons are the times when we have to pray a little harder, trust a little more and believe that God is going to bring you out of the season of challenge and into a season of blessing. That is when we need to tell ourselves that seasons don’t last forever.