Last month was the start of fall. The temperatures have slowly been cooling here in Colorado for the past several weeks, so the transition between seasons has been gradual. From day to day, there has been little change. When I remember that we had 90+ degree days just a few weeks ago, the difference is obvious. Before we know it, the falling leaves will be replaced with falling snow and the changing seasons will continue their natural process.
While it is easy to recognize and understand how seasons change in the natural world, sometimes it is not as easy to perceive when it comes to the seasons of life. Sometimes circumstances seem so permanent and progress seems so slow that seasons can feel like a life sentence. But, just like the scorching days of summer give way to the crisp evenings of fall, the seasons of life do change. God continues to work.
This truth has been refreshing my heart recently. Seven years ago this month, I was diagnosed with a rare auto-immune condition that had severely damaged my spinal cord. In just a matter of months, my ability to walk had deteriorated to the point that I became paralyzed from the chest down. Another two months after that, a relapse of the condition damaged other nerves in my body and that paralysis spread to include my arms. In less than a year, I went from being able to walk to a quadriplegic on life support.
Though it was rare for me to vulnerably share it with others, becoming paralyzed was one of my worst fears following my diagnosis. In my mind, it was the worst-case scenario. As dramatic as it sounds, sitting in my wheelchair at the rehab center, I felt like my life was over. Nothing would change. The damage was done. The ending had been written.
Seven years later, I still have my wheelchair. Only now, it sits in an office gathering dust. Most people would never know that season of my life even existed. In fact, many days I forget it ever did.
I sometimes find it very easy to lose the perspective that life is a series of seasons—some pleasant, some painful—but seasons, nonetheless. While some seasons may not change as quickly or as drastically as the one I experienced with my health, they do change.
Earlier this month, walking alongside a lake on the other side of the world, God gently reminded me of that truth: He alone is God of the seasons. He alone knows what the next season will hold and when it will come. As I walked, God began challenging me that sometimes I miss His hand in changing the seasons of my life simply because the change I see does not match the change I expect.
One of my life Bible verses is Job 42:2, “For I know You can do everything and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.” While it is often easy for me to believe that God’s purposes cannot be withheld from Him, what God began showing me was that many of my trust-less times in life have been rooted in the fear that my purposes will be withheld from me. I often get so focused on trusting God for an outcome that I don’t truthfully trust God with the outcome. My hope often rests on His willingness to do what I want, rather than His faithfulness to do what is best. In doing this, I miss the gift that is the process between where I am and where God is taking me. Like a child on a road-trip, my “are we there yet?” focus causes me to miss the sweetness of knowing God in the time in between.
Seasons change, and while sometimes that looks very different than how we expect, there is always movement to life. I never could have guessed seven years earlier what I would be doing on that same day seven years later. The days moved slowly, but the years went fast. That is often how seasons go. In Exodus 23, God told the children of Israel that He would not give them the land all at once; rather, little by little. He would give His people time to grow in order for them to be better suited to receive the gift He was giving.
I find that God works in much the same way today. Seasons change, but there is often a slowness that comes from God’s mercy and wisdom. Much like one cannot judge a tapestry based on a single thread, life is far more complex and beautiful than any single moment we find ourselves in. It is the seasons of life—the mountain-top hikes, the canyon-low wanderings, and the mundane walks through the valley—that work together to produce the beauty of God’s handiwork in our lives. As Ecclesiastes 3:11 reminds us, “[God] has made everything beautiful in its time… no one can fathom what He has done from beginning to end.”
As sure as summer becomes fall and winter becomes spring, seasons change. What gracious and visible reminders God has given us to remind us that He truly does make all things beautiful in His time.
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