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ASPECTS

a monthly devotional journal
by David Lampel
Issue No. 142
Sept. 2002

IN SEASON AND OUT


 

For Everything a Season

My mind is never more appreciative of the four distinct seasons of the Midwest than during the dog days of summer. The rains are few and far between, and the grass is brittle and dry. Temperatures are doggedly high, and the humidity is persistently miserable. And pervading everything is a numbed feeling of, "Can we just move on, please?"

But even in the lingering irritation with the present there remains an encouraging knowledge of the future. For soon the humidity level will drop--and stay there; soon the temperature will lower to a more habitable level; and soon the monotonous greens of the foliage will gradually shift into the rainbow spectrums of autumn.

Of course, with autumn comes also the responsibility to finally do all those things I've put off because of the intemperate weather. I will quickly lose my handy excuse for not painting those bare spots on the outside trim, for not trimming the oak trees that are looking a bit shaggy around the trunk, and for not chopping the wood that will keep us warm this winter. With the air clean and bright, and the temps more civilized, some hard work will finally have to be addressed.

Every season contains both the pleasant and the unpleasant. Even as I grumble over the shirt-soaked temperatures of late summer, I delight in the chorus of singing cicadas, the plaintive cries of the frogs and toads encircling the pond, and the evening crickets' serenade. Soon this seasonal soundtrack will be stilled by the drier air and first frost of autumn.

The perspective of the earth-bound is to allocate everything into one of two columns: Good or Bad. Some things are pleasant, some unpleasant. Some things bring us joy, while some bring us misery. The perspective of heaven, however, is that all things are good, because God made them. Evil and sin may dwell perpetually in His "Bad" column, but God does not subdivide the rest as we do.

The heat and humidity that I find so unbearable are the very same components of summer that cause the corn in the fields to flourish. And the singing of the insects that so delights me, others may find monotonous and irritating.

For everything there is a time. For everything there is a season.


 

 

Regular Variations

Young men and old, who today barter goods at the local feed store in sweaty T-shirts and dust-covered work boots, will soon be conducting business dressed in heavy snow suits and insulated rubber boots. Their pickup trucks parked outside, now wearing a film of dry road dust, will soon be under-girded with a dirty apron of accumulated snow and ice. And then their truck beds, now empty, will always contain something of weight, to give their back wheels traction in the ice and mud of winter.

Though there will always be the inevitable variations from year to year ("We ain't never had a July this dry before!"), like a great wheel within a wheel the seasons keep turning, keep revolving around each other with a dependable, heavenly precision. Out in the fields, those cattle with tongues now lolling stickily from their mouths in the wet heat of summer, can put it in the bank: before long they will be huddled together in a clump, combining their body heat and bulk for protection against the icy wind blasting out of the north.

There are times that I appreciate most the very change of the seasons--the variety factor. But more often what I appreciate about the seasons is their consistency--the fact that autumn always follows summer, that winter always follows the fall. And only a sovereign God could manage such predictable precision.

There will be moments this winter when, huddled against the icy blast that burns my cheeks and makes my outdoor work miserable, I will long for the more temperate season of spring. But there will also be moments when I will exult in the clear, crisp bite of that winter chill, moments when I will gratefully be rid of the oppressive heat of the summer months.

But no matter the season, what I exult in most of all is the fact that a dependable, all-powerful God rules over it all. From one season to the next, my fickle pursuits may vacillate and change, but I call upon a God who does not. The seasons of his creation rotate as regularly as a Swiss movement, but in their regular variation they speak most eloquently of a supreme Master who remains always the same.


 

 

The Sweet Season

Spring is the sweet season--the season of the year in which the fresh air is fragrant with the presence of new grass, budding fruit trees, peonies, tulips, lilies of the valley, and lilacs. It is the time of revitalizing rains, cool days bathed in intense sunshine, and the sharp bite of fresh-cut grass.

Spring is the time of newness, and explosive growth, when living things change from one day to the next as quickly as a young child does to a doting auntie. Even the weather is young in the spring, moving quickly from sunshine to thunderstorm, then back again. If autumn is the time of old men and checkers, spring is the time of youth and baseball.

And youth thinks that life as a whole should be as spring. Since youth does not believe in the denouement of vitality, it believes that once the sweetness of life has faded into the dusty musk of age, then life is probably no longer worth the bother.

There is a feeling of fresh vitality to a new faith. It is the sweet season in a walk with God. But it is also a time of impetuous youth, of unformed thoughts and uninformed beliefs. It is a time of innocence and eagerness, but also inaccurate perception.

Spring needs the balance of autumn, and the sweet season of a youthful faith needs the balance of a less energetic but more substantial season of age. Old men may be less exciting than fiery youth, but they supply the solid base to the body of Christ that youth cannot supply on its own.

Lilacs and lilies of the valley smell invitingly sweet, but they fade quickly and are soon gone, withered brown in the heat of approaching summer. But the mature plant that gave them birth remains, bearing up under the storms and withering heat, the bone-dry autumn, and the freezing chill of winter.

It is the mature that carry us from one season into the next, and it is their season of wisdom that is the one to be envied.


 

 

Season of Planting

As August becomes September the vast fields of tall corn that inhabit so much of Iowa are beginning their natural drying process. For, ideally, the farmer will not harvest the field corn until it is thoroughly dried, the stalk no longer green but a withered, desiccated remnant of its former self. To harvest before the ear of corn has lost much of its moisture is to incur the added expense of mechanical drying of the kernels prior to market.

In the Midwest, as in other parts of the world, there is a dependable rhythm to these things. Spring is for planting, summer is for growing, autumn is for the harvest, and winter is the time to let the soil rest.

A good farmer worth his salt would no more plant corn in the dead of winter than try to run his tractor on Kool-Aid. He needs to plant the seeds at the very beginning of the growing season, once the soil is warm, to allow the young plant time to grow and reach maturity so that it can be harvested before winter sets in. And either in the late autumn, or very early in the spring, the fields must be cleared in preparation for the new planting of the next year.

Everything in its season.

The planting of God's truth, however, is never tied to a season. There is no cycle of seasons when it comes to the cultivation of the Gospel. We are never too young or too old to share the good news of Christ. The little girl can take her neighborhood playmate with her to Vacation Bible School; the old man can bring along his checkers buddy to Sunday morning church.

There never is an inappropriate time to stand up for the Lord. Oh, we may not grab them by the ears and beat salvation into their soul. But it's never wrong to sow the seeds of Christ through the quiet example of a righteous life, the touch of a ministering friend, the respectful silence of a listening ear.

The farmer must wait for spring to plant his seeds, but for the Christian, the fields are always ready, in season and out.


 


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Issue No. 142
September 2002

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Aspects is Copyright © 2002 David S. Lampel.

Permission is hereby granted for this original material to be reprinted in newsletters, journals, etc., or to be used in spoken form. When used, please include the following line: "From Aspects, by David S. Lampel. Used by permission." Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture is from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE (Updated Edition), Copyright © The Lockman Foundation 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995. Used by permission. Where indicated, Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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