I garden. I know there’s nothing profound in me giving you that information. Last month’s newsletter was a conversation about the fruit of the Spirit, that’s kind of a garden thing, and this letter is about seasons, actually two seasons: in season and out of season. I’ve prepared a garden each spring since 1975. There have been good years and poor. Sometimes dry weather got me, a couple of times those varmint ‘wabbits’ or their neighbor groundhog got me, wind and hail have done me in the most. Gardening requires patience and for sure teaches it. Also, you must have a vision to put up with the months of work before you ‘prosper’ from gardening. You can’t just plant a garden and leave it to the weeds. You will not get much of a garden being a lazy gardener. Believe me, I tried that early on and learned it didn’t work. Most importantly, if the soil is not prepared correctly for the seed, obviously your plantings will fail. If you don’t give the plant nutrients and an energy source it will eventually die without coming to maturity. We’re the same way; without preparation and good soil the Word of God falls in hard ground and does not take root in our lives. If we ignore the Word of God and do not feed our hearts and distribute those nutrients into our souls, we will perish, easily being overcome by the calamity of the culture.
The apostle Paul teaches us to be in season as Christians. Unlike my garden, he never let any environmental condition, anything he was going through, affect how he approached his Faith. That’s a necessary lesson for us today. We have so many things that trouble now, some locally, some nationally and many internationally. I’m going to suggest that believers are in season, even when it’s not the very best times of their lives. I see so many troubling issues we all face daily. So much, whether it’s with our family, friends, or it could be relatives or acquaintances, all feeling great stress from this earth’s system. If you’re like Jane and me, you don’t have enough fingers and toes to count all the people you know that are facing very real and hard circumstances. Checked that news channel lately? Asked anyone how’s it going? And much of what is going on with friends and family is simply unspoken, they just don’t talk about it!
I made the mistake a few years ago of telling a friend of mine how everything seemed so out of season in my life-things were just not going well at the time. He immediately had the pleasure of setting me straight, telling me that the tough times are sometimes the very times we become the most aware of God’s presence. The world is in the process of increasingly rejecting the Love of God and His outstretched hand of Grace. At this very same time, as believers, we have the opportunity to rally in our Faith. If we live it rather than just talk Faith, we will find that we are ‘in season’; we are in a place that will bear much fruit. It’s a time where God partners in our lives. In our brains, that many times happens at the most inopportune moment. I make it easy on myself at that point. I simplify! Jesus said that his yoke is easy and his burden is light. I take Him at his word! The characteristics of what God asks us to handle, His things, are not heavy on us, they are not unable to be carried. In fact, many times that’s exactly how I recognize what things I need to take ownership of in my life, what I should take on the responsibility for carrying. If those things are too harsh, too much, too anything, if they are burdensome, I’m suspicious whether they are of God. We have to be careful not to take on everything that we can think of and, especially, take on the things others guilt us into ownership. The things that we are to carry as part of the Christian experience God asks us to do are not too heavy to bear, not too much for us to stand. I think we all try to carry so much of what the world offers to us.
Today, we all are in a very difficult season for many: joblessness, health problems, health costs, divorce rates skyrocketing among even Christian marriages, abortion, depression, political schoolyard bullying is rampant, inflation (believe me it’s coming, but don’t worry too much-if you don’t eat, drive or get sick, I think you’re ok), terrorism, our debt will be troublesome for our children, even if we or they have not come to the reality that your 5 year-old grandchild already owes over 46 thousand dollars in national debt. It’s at this point we must remember that being in season is not what we’ve always thought. Being in season in the Gospel is not defined as when it’s all going good. It’s not about being problem free. Being in season is just the opposite of that. It’s about finding God’s presence in times of trouble. Just when it’s the most difficult is when He’s the most powerful. I know it doesn’t feel like that most of the time, but that’s because our feeler is broken. We feel with our minds. When we learn to feel with our hearts, having our minds changed by the Wisdom of God, then we can begin to experience and expect an increased presence of God in our lives. I know it sounds foolish in the middle of all the things going on around us, but we can know that we are not alone, we are not without help.
You, I, ours, others, all have way too much to bear without the Spirit of God. No one’s isolated from trouble, but in many ways, we can be insulated. I truly believe we can find Peace in times like these. We can expect to see the influence and the interruption of God at times like these. After all, it’s not like what we are going through is a big surprise; we’ve been fore-warned of an acceleration of trouble in the world. We’ve been made aware of an ever increasing separation of Kingdom versus kingdom; that the evidence of a great war between those two rivals would be easily seen. And, we’ve been encouraged that we should not let our hearts be troubled (now our minds might fight with us, but our hearts can abide in the shadow of the Most High and be blessed) even as we face a world seemingly ‘gone wild’.
I fully expect this world system to reject the Love of God in the New Testament age, what many call the time of the Gentiles. I think the world will refuse His offer of Grace again, just as it rejected Him when he walked the streets two thousand years ago. There’s an implication in Scripture that Christ does not return because everything is just super, but rather, comes at a time when, had He not returned, men’s hearts would fail them. A time that’s described a whole lot like, well, the world we see today! I am certain that we’re in a season when the Love of God, the Peace of God and the Power of God can be seen and exposed. This is in season for our Faith. God is most present in the middle of our need, more than in our ease. As much as the world puts the hurt on us, I believe we can expect the presence of God to be revealed just that much more. It is a time of disappointment and a time of great expectation, both going on at one time. I am not discouraged, although there are discouraging things around me. I will not be angry even in the middle of what seems to be a world-wide anger. I have a friend that often says that no matter how tough things get, there will be opportunities.
Remember Paul’s words in Romans? ‘Who shall separate us from the Love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine or nakedness, or peril, or sword?…I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the Love of God, which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord.’ I believe that’s true, no matter in season or out.