The trees are just starting to blush. The forever green leaves of summer have been kissed with just a touch of warmth, like a beautiful woman just beginning to age. When she laughs, the very corners of her eyes wrinkle, or twinkle, depending how you look at her. The trees are like this now. A little more weathered, and wise, they begin to drop just several leaves, here and there, ever so gently. They haven’t changed yet. They’re just barely starting to show the signs, but change is coming.
I think we change with the seasons, with or without our permission. But right now, I’m clinging onto summer like a starfish. Like the way my daughter used to wrap both arms and legs around my husband’s leg when he’d try to leave for work in the morning in his dress clothes. “Stayyyy!” she’d cry, as he could barely walk, or hobble to the door.
My heart isn’t prepared to change seasons, yet. Is yours?
I’ve noticed I have somewhat of a fixation with the seasons. They captivate me. For better or for worse. I literally am held captive to them. If you’ve read my last post, which was written in the spring (while it was snowing!), you’ll know how deeply I am affected by the weather (ahem, the cold, snowy, dark weather we tend to get for 6 months of the year.) In that post, it’s clear that winter affects me for the worst. “It builds character,” I like to say on my better days. Perhaps it’s a rather shallow thing to admit that the weather affects my mood so severely. Isn’t that the definition of a “fair-weather” fan? But in pure honesty, it seems I’m often just a “fair-weather” person. (Scary, I know.)
Aside from a proper medical diagnosis, can we just admit this is possibly just part of the human experience? Especially, for those who live in the snow-belt? Perhaps this is just an echo of something we long for–like C.S. Lewis said, something we were made for “in another world,” that can’t be fully satisfied here?
What I’ve found–and this is really quite good–what I’ve found is that there is only one common denominator through every season. There is only one constant thing through winter, spring, summer, and fall.
And it’s not a thing, it’s a person.
That person is Jesus.
He is with me in every season.
He is with me through all the bad weather. And good weather.
And, in Him, my heart can hope.
In Him, I can smile at the future, and laugh at the days to come. (Proverbs 31:25)
This is true, and this is good.
And I feel compelled to write this as I’m wrestling through it myself–because maybe someone else out there wrestles with these feelings, too, and just needs to remember–what is true. And who is true. It’s Jesus.
He is faithful and true.
The last time I wrote a post about “embracing the season,” and “don’t dread the future,” those words were slammed back in my face. They were slammed back in my face because while I was happily preaching to everyone during 2020, “don’t expect bad things to happen..” one of the worst things did happen.
Just months after I wrote that post, my beloved father-in-law, who was a very dear friend of mine, unexpectedly passed away from COVID in two short weeks. It’s something me and my family are still grieving, even over a year later. We miss him terribly.
That’s why I tremble a little bit to say, “Smile at the future!” or, “Laugh at the days to come!” Because those dark days we lived through just two winters ago, still haunt me. I’m still trying to wrap my head around what happened. I’m still trying not to cry over the fact that he’s gone. Though, I know he is with the Lord.
Two years later, here is what remains true–even in our coldest and darkest winter, when the sting of death stabbed through our hearts like a searing knife, with sharp pain shooting through–
Jesus was there.
He was there when it happened. He was there when I collapsed upon the carpet and wept as my husband drove away to the hospital to say his last good-bye to his dad. He was there when we sat on our daughter’s bedroom floor and had to tell her Grandpa went to heaven. He was there in all the months that followed, when waves of grief came to knock us over. Quiet mornings on the couch, as I scribbled ink in my journal, he caught my tears in a bottle. He held me close to His heart. He gently led me to His quiet waters. He restored my soul.
I say this with tears.
The reason I can look ahead to the coming seasons with hope, even after loss, is this: Jesus will be there.
When the worst season came, Jesus was there. And for every season that is forth-coming–yes, even past the grave–Jesus will be there.
There is no where we can go, that He won’t be there with us. Because he said, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)
He promised, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
Psalm 48:14 says, “He will guide us forever.” However, I found even deeper comfort in my ESV footnote which says another reading is, “He will guide us beyond death.”
Even beyond death, He will guide us. He will be there. An “ever-present help in times of trouble.” (Psalm 46:1) Always present, always faithful. Not only in this life, but when our eyes flutter open on the other side of eternity–He will be there.
This gives me abounding hope. Because though my heart can tend to dread the future–even when the reason for that dread is simply “the weather” that’s coming, I can know that: Jesus will be there.
We need to drink this down and let it warm our bellies.
Whatever you face tomorrow: Jesus will be there.
For that doctor’s appointment: Jesus will be there.
For that hard conversation you don’t want to have: Jesus will be there.
For that job interview, or just the mundane same old job you’re doing again tomorrow: Jesus will be there.
For that unexpected accident or expense: Jesus will be there.
There is no where we can go, that His Spirit won’t be there, to comfort and counsel and convict us. Praise be to God.
Dane Ortlund writes this about our union, or “together-ness” with Christ in his book, “Deeper,”
“…Nothing can touch you that does not touch him. To get to you, every pain, every assault, every disappointment has to go through him. You are shielded by invincible love. Everything that washes into your life, no matter how hard, comes from and through the tender care of the friend of sinners. He himself feels your anguish even more deeply than you do, because you’re one with him; and he mediates everything hard in your life through his love for you, because you’re one with him” (Deeper, pg. 66).
This is what it means to be in Christ.
Therefore, “As far as sin in your life reaches, Christ and your union with him reach further. As deep as your failure goes, Christ and your union with him go deeper still. As strong as your sin feels, the bond of your oneness with Jesus Christ is stronger still. Live the rest of your life mindful of your union with the prince of heaven” (Deeper, 66-67).
This is the most wonderful news in the universe. And nothing can come against it. For the very Prince of Heaven says these words to all those who are in Him, and like every word He has ever spoken, His words can never pass way.
He alone says, “You in me, and I in you.” (John 14:20)
As I honestly wrestle with the inevitable change of seasons–my heart is arrested by a deep, abiding hope. And I pray that if you struggle with this, too, that your heart may be awakened with hope in Him. Let us throw all of our hope and lives completely on Christ, and nothing else–for He cannot fail. And we can move forward with hope–only because of Him.
When Seasons Are About To Change
I stood on the beach at the ocean this summer in the blazing sunshine while our kids and their cousins played in the surf. The sun was so radiant, it was nearly blinding without my sunglasses on. As the kids’ laughter roared with the waves, a salty breeze blew through my hair, and the sun warmed my golden skin. I didn’t want it to end. And then I thought about last winter, the endless dark, the snow, the biting cold. Tears filled my eyes. I didn’t want the summer to ever end. I wanted to stay right there, on that beach, forever. I didn’t want the cold, dark days to come–not ever again. I wanted to bottle up the sunshine and “can” it the way people can tomato sauce into little jars and keep it on shelves in my basement–like glowing jars of sunshine, to take out on the dark days. If only, I could.
“Oh Lord,” my heart whispered. “I’m not ready for another winter. Please prepare my heart for the next season.”
Truth is, as magical as it would be to have little glowing jars of sunshine on my basement shelves, I have something better. Far better.
I have a Person. The Son of Glory. The Prince of heaven Himself–dwelling on the inside of me. Making His home in me. The One whose face shines like the sun, shining in all its brilliance–His Spirit lives in me. The same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead, gives life to my mortal body (Romans 8)–right now, right here in my dining room.
I am in Him, and He is in me.
And where He is, I shall be also.
I cannot flee from His presence. I cannot flee from His Spirit. If I go to heavens, He is there. If I make my bed in the depths, He is there. If I settle on the far side of the sea, even there His hand will guide me.
And this Spirit lives in you, if you are in Christ.
This is what it means to be in the Son.
Ortlund illustrates our union with Christ as, “standing in a circle with an invisible but impenetrable wall surrounding you, a sphere of impregnability. But it’s not a circle you’re in. It’s a person–the person. The one before whom John fell down as he grappled for words to describe what he was looking at as one whose “eyes were like a flame of fire…and his voice was like the roar of many waters” (Rev. 1:14-15) has been made one with you. The might of heaven, the power that flung galaxies into existence, has swept you into himself” (Deeper, pg. 66).
If you are kind of dreading the changing of the seasons, if you just aren’t ready for it, or are scared of what the days will hold, or how dark, and cold, and long it will be. Set your hope on this:
Jesus will be there.
As you get ready to step into fall, Jesus will be there.
As you prepare for winter, Jesus will be there.
As you long for spring, Jesus will be there.
As you finally move into summer, Jesus will be there.
He is in every season. He is in every place. God is our refuge and strength, “An ever-present help in times of trouble,” says Psalm 46:1.
Even when you load the dishwasher tonight, and unload it in the morning, Jesus will be there.
As much as I want to say, “Hang up that fall wreath, and embrace fall,” I can’t. That’s encouragement the world can offer. As a son or daughter of Christ, you have so much more than that. Something deeper. You have a kingdom to embrace, and not only a kingdom, but the King Himself. So, I implore you, don’t simply “embrace fall”–embrace Christ. The One whom you were made to worship and adore–forever.
I pray that you feel Him embracing you. Chasing you. Fiercely, and tenderly, all at once. On your sunny days, and your dark ones. On your easy days, and your hard ones. On your warm days, and your cold and wet ones: Jesus will be there. With you.
Ever present. Always faithful. Always true.
Because of Him, you can surrender with the trees as they shed their leaves. You can surrender as seasons change from a place on your knees. Because: Jesus will be there. He is the constant One.
You don’t need to dread the dark days. Because if you are in Christ, the prince of Heaven dwells with and in you. And the Light of the whole world lives within you. And His face, shines like the sun in all its glory. (Revelations 1:16) And His voice is like the roar of many rushing waters.
I don’t know what the fall holds.
I don’t know what the winter holds.
I don’t even know what tomorrow holds.
But this I do know, and in this I will delight:
Jesus will be there.