“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.”
Nature teaches us so many valuable lessons. It’s no wonder that God often chooses the mountains or wilderness as a training ground. I walk most every day and rarely do I come home empty-handed. Sometimes I collect thoughts that later become songs or journal entries. Other days I gather pebbles, twigs, or flowers as souvenirs to remind me years later of truths learned in His presence.
It’s interesting, really. Even those of us who anticipate change, who get excited to see what’s coming around the corner, have a tendency to hold on to the past to some degree. Collecting treasures as we travel through life is healthy. It’s when we get out of step with the seasons that we get in trouble. I recently experienced a perfect example of this while gardening.
I have an incurable love of flower gardens. I can’t wait to see tulips peeking through the snow or ants toiling to help peonies open their buds. My favorite intoxication comes while standing near a lilac bush in full bloom and just a glimpse of Forget-me-nots hiding under sagebrush takes my breath.
Unfortunately, my love for flowers sometimes pushes away better judgment. Almost every fall I talk myself out of cleaning the beds, believing that the sight of dead flowers poking up through the snow will remind me that new life is sure to come. It does give a measure of joy but mostly makes for a more difficult job in the spring.
A few days ago I finally pruned back last year’s leftovers from my rapidly growing plants. As I labored on my knees, two details struck me. First, there was no way to get all of the dead branches and leaves out of my thriving plants. No matter how hard I tried, some brown stalks remained. Second, I damaged the new growth in my efforts to clean out what should have been pruned months before. In holding on to the pleasure of last summer, I failed to recognize the beauty and purpose of a clean flower bed hiding beneath the snow.
Isn’t that the way with life? Each season holds its purpose. Some flourish with growth. Others are meant for rest. When we try to overlap the two we often steal from the past and damage what’s to come.
I’ve been blessed to be involved in fruitful ministry where I felt and saw the pleasure of my Father in my labors. But at times I’ve held on to successes of the past when the Spirit was leading in a new direction. As a result, fragments of my heart longed for what had been instead of resting and preparing for what was to come.
Then, when the Holy Spirit led me on to new assignments, I had to cut out distractions that now impeded fresh growth. At times I held too tightly to friends when God wanted to take them in another direction to build new relationships and fulfill destinies. Music that ministered in the last season but wasn’t for today filled my mind when the Spirit wanted to give new songs. Activities that had resonated with God’s presence yesterday now seemed hollow. Sadly, I had allowed remnants of the last season to stay too long so that new growth was now damaged while pruning them out.
“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” What an essential truth. We don’t despise yesterday if we embrace tomorrow. We are simply honoring what God desires for each individual season. In this way we honor Him.
Do you recognize the season you are in?
What treasures have you collected from seasons past?
How do you keep in step with the Holy Spirit?
Learn more about the author, Amy Layne Litzelman