Whenever you read this, you will be in a season of nature and in a season of your own life. We tend to think of seasons as a time of change as living things inevitably transition from one state to another. Nature’s baton is handed from one season to the next and we tend to think of the first ‘runner’ as being ‘Spring’, the word coming from ‘springing time’ in the fourteenth century. By the sixteenth century, this was shortened to ‘Spring’ describing how plants come forth from the ground (the Latin being ‘ver’ or ‘tempus primum’ as in ‘first time’). This ‘baton of life’ is handed on to Summer which runs on at a more leisurely pace. If Spring could suggest the morning, then Summer well conveys a lazy long afternoon and the promise of harvest. What do you associate with a Summer’s day? Where are you in the seasons of life and the seasons of the soul?
- ‘Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time’ – John Lubbock
- ‘Summer afternoon, summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language’ – Henry James
- ‘People don't notice whether it's winter or summer when they're happy’ – Anton Chekhov
- ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate: Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, And summer’s lease hath all too short a date’ – William Shakespeare
Some people cannot help obsessing about the negative side of life. These are the ‘glass-half-empty’ souls who would look at the sun high in the sky and think half the day has gone rather than relish the opportunities of the second half of the day. Whether or not you wear rose-tinted glasses may depend on your life experiences to date. Would you rather be around a pessimist, an optimist or a realist? Which are you? People like to think of these as branches of ‘philosophy’ stemming from a combination of two Greek words, ‘philein’ and ‘sophia’, to give the meaning as ‘lover of wisdom’. ‘Philosophical optimism’ is associated with Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz who reasoned that we live in the best of all possible worlds. His Christian viewpoint came from his belief in God’s existence, so it has not been popular among modern philosophers. In contrast, ‘philosophical pessimism’ views the world in a strictly anti-optimistic fashion. A third position, ‘philosophical realism’, depicts a ‘stance towards other subject matters’ and delves into four areas, those being ‘metaphysics’ (looking at abstract matters), ‘epistemology’ (the study of knowledge), ‘axiology’ (the value of things) and ‘logic’ (evidence based reasoning). If you rely solely on human philosophy, you go will round in circles such that a green and fertile land soon becomes a dry desert! There are many dry bones in such deserts.
- ‘The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail’ – Isaiah 58:11
- ‘The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy’ – Isaiah 35:1-2
- ‘My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water’ – Jeremiah 2:13
- ‘The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the Lord will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs’ – Isaiah 41:17-18
Mere human words do not hold life – they are like clouds that look heavy with rain but pass on by giving nothing but shadows as they lack the refreshing showers so needed by a dry land. What a contrast is the optimistic outlook that Christ Jesus gives us. Kofi Annan was one of twins and is known for being a Christian. Born in Ghana in 1938, he became Secretary General for the United Nations and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with the UN in working for a more peaceful world and for improving human rights. Despite much opposition, this was his world view: ‘I am a stubborn optimist: I was born an optimist and will remain an optimist’. Dying in 2018 at the age of 80, he accomplished much through his optimism bringing sunshine in many dark places and help to those in deserts. Isaiah spoke not just of an oasis in a desert but of flowing waters – no wonder he is known as the ‘Gospel-Writer’ of the Old Testament! Even born optimists sometimes have it knocked out of them by life experiences – when we come to Christ we can be ‘born-again-optimists’ in the fresh new hope he gives us.
Summer begins to yield its rich harvest because of the growth that has been taking place. Our ‘personal summer’ should be the same – despite some sharp frosts, the ploughing and sowing of life’s field combined with refreshing rain and sun has hopefully led to maturity in Christ that overflows into the lives of others. This should be an abundant time that brings joy to the Lord of the harvest, to the harvester and to those to whom it flows.
- ‘Where is the wise person? Where is the educated person? Where is the skilled talker of this world? God has made the wisdom of the world foolish. In the wisdom of God the world did not know God through its own wisdom. So God chose to use the message that sounds foolish to save those who believe’ – 1 Corinthians 1:20-21
- ‘On the last and most important day of the feast Jesus stood up and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. If anyone believes in me, rivers of living water will flow out from that person’s heart, as the Scripture says”’ – John 7:37-38
- ‘For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks’ – Matthew 12:34
- ‘I am the vine, and you are the branches. If any remain in me and I remain in them, they produce much fruit. But without me they can do nothing … You should produce much fruit and show that you are my followers, which brings glory to my Father’ – John 15:5, 8
- ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law’ – Galatians 5:22-23
How is the harvest of your life looking as the season goes on? There may yet be harsh weather but for those who are properly rooted, there will be growth, maturity and overflow of blessings to others and glory to God. Thank the Lord for every season - recognise his hand and his presence in each one for his purpose is working out as year succeeds to year. Let there be no gloom nor false optimism, but a sound expectation of joyful harvests to celebrate both now and in the times to come. The best is yet to come for all who believe in the wisdom of God rather than our own unpredictable wisdom and emotions. It is the Lord of the Harvest who prepares a welcome feast to celebrate the harvest of his goodness. Keep sowing, growing and reaping in every season of your life.
TAGS – faith, abundance, fruitfulness, anticipation, happiness, goodness, provision