By Kristi Stoughton
One day last spring, I noticed my daffodils. The buds were just starting to peek through the green, promising explosions of yellow and gold in the coming weeks. I thought, “finally!” Later in the day I stood at my front door, baking in the heat of the sun coming through the glass and thought “finally!” I am SO ready to welcome spring. But that’s nothing new to me. Living in New England with its wildly varying weather, I welcome each season.
When I see the first cornflower-blue skies of summer, hear the first cicada of the season, feel the sun beat hot upon my head as I run in the morning, I think “finally!” When I see the maple leaves turn bright red, feel the crisp air of fall, drink my first glass of apple cider, I think “finally!” When the first few flakes of snow begin to fall and I think of my cozy little home filled with warmth from our fireplace, I think “finally!” It’s easy to welcome the seasons because each one feels new and fresh, yet filled with happy memories of previous seasons.
It’s less easy to welcome the changing seasons of my life. At a speaking engagement a couple of years ago, I was with a group of women and we were discussing “Deep Freeze,” the winter teen retreat at Camp Berea. I said, “My boys go to those! Wait. My boy goes to those. Wait. My “boy” just attended his last one this past winter. My youngest is about to graduate, so he’s done.” The realization hit hard. My boys have grown too old for teen retreats. Another season is past, another arriving. And I do not think “finally!” I think “ouch.”
I spent some time wondering why it bothered me so much, saying good-bye to a season in life and welcoming the new one. Because as many “lasts” as we had that year, we also had a lot of happy “firsts.” What is it that makes it so hard to see the seasons change? Is it fear of the future? A longing for the past? Reluctance to let go of the familiar? I suspect that the answer is different for every person and every situation.
Or perhaps, instead of reluctantly releasing a current season, you’re in a season that you’re dying to get out of. Or maybe you’re like King Solomon, lamenting that nothing ever changes, that everything is “Same Stuff, Different Day:”
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 1:9)
Sometimes it’s hard to welcome the season we’re currently in. Or currently enduring.
Whether you’re waiting for a season to end, reluctant to embrace a new season, or like King Solomon, wishing for something, ANYthing to happen, maybe you’ll feel encouraged, as I did, by what King David wrote:
“But I trust in you, Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hands.” (Psalm 31:14-15a)
When David wrote this, men were conspiring against him; they wanted him dead. Much of Psalm 31 is a lament about all the bad things that people wanted to do to him. (My little season-change issues feel awfully insignificant when I think about David’s circumstances!) So when I come to this verse, it reads like a defiant statement of hope. It’s almost like David is instructing his soul: “I WILL believe. I WILL trust. Despite these circumstances, God loves me and will take care of me. My times – my seasons – are in his hands.”
So I take hope in this statement in the midst of my changing seasons and instruct my soul likewise. No matter what season I am in, no matter what season is approaching, “I trust in you, Lord – my times are in your hands.” Whether the season seems good or bad or the changes are big or small, our good God who loves us will carry us through this season and the next and the next. Not just carry us, though. David continues on to say,
“How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you. Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” (Psalm 31:19,24)
Good things. In ALL seasons. Because God loves us.
It still hurts my heart sometimes that my sweet babies are all grown up. The winds are beginning to blow and the seasons are changing again. But instead of longing for the hot blue-sky days of summer, I’m going to enjoy the quiet process as the oak leaves turn golden. I’m going to relish the crisp air and the taste of cider. When the first snowflakes fall, I will catch them on my tongue. I’m going to look forward to the first buds of spring. I’ll choose to welcome the seasons as they arrive. And I’m going to keep repeating King David’s words:
“But I trust in you, Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hands.”
Kristi Stoughton, Director of WeConnect, is a native of New Hampshire, where she currently resides with her husband and their two sons. As a speaker for women’s events, Kristi has a passion for women to know God’s love deeply. She loves to share about the joyful, exciting, heartbreaking, beautiful, victorious, rollicking adventure that is Life in Christ! Kristi hasn’t yet met a craft that she doesn’t like, and thanks her husband for his kind indulgence as she gleefully stockpiles crafting supplies she “might need some day.” Kristi loves playing her guitar and singing on her church’s worship team as well as serving with her musical “sister chicks” as the worship team for women’s retreats and other events. You can visit her online at www.krististoughton.com.