loss

God in Every Season

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Today is my kind of day. It’s quiet. The smell of coffee is drifting through the house and I’m curled up in a warm, plush blanket listening to the rain fall outside. If there was a movie playing right about now and my cat was curled up in my lap, I think I could rule this moment as nothing short of perfection. All five of my senses are happy and fully satisfied right now. I’m completely peaceful.

Another Christmas has come and gone, and for someone who loves all that is associated with the holidays, I’ve already packed away our indoor decorations until next year. While I’ve enjoyed the hustle and bustle, carols, lights, gifts, and excitement, the joy of Christmas unfortunately can’t last forever. Change has to come; it’s time for a new season.

I’ve been thinking a lot about seasons lately. It’s no secret that for our family winter came and decided to enjoy an extended stay. For many months it’s been cold and bleak, and I think I speak for everyone when I say that we all wished we could fly away to somewhere warmer or hibernate until it all passed. The one thing I’ve learned during our winter, however, is while the sun may not be as bright or felt as close, it hasn’t changed its position. It’s still there, even when we can’t feel it.

The same is true with God. There have been many moments this past year when I couldn’t feel Him or see Him, but that doesn’t mean He moved. He never changes, no matter what is changing all around me. I’ve learned that in a way I never imagined. I’ve been forced to face this season of winter head on, and to trust God when He wasn’t necessarily “visible.” But looking back over this past year, I can see His fingerprints on everything. Because He doesn’t leave us when things and people around us die and leave us bare and vulnerable.

He is God in every season.

He’s God when winter ends and spring comes. When mourning is over and new life begins to bud and bloom. When the sun’s warmth can be felt again after a time of silence and extreme cold.

He’s the God of our summers. When the temperatures rise in life, and maybe for you that’s meant being held to the fire in an intense season of testing. The pressure builds and the heat increases to the point where it almost feels sweltering and unbearable. Right when you think it can’t get any hotter, fall comes and breaks the intensity a little. Spiritually, maybe that means you’ve passed the test and can relax and breathe. God didn’t move when the pressure was on. He remained steady, giving you endurance until “fall” came.

He’s God in “autumn,” the in-between season when life is good. You’ve passed your test and you can rest before winter comes. Leaves are changing and everything is crisp, cool and beautiful. You can’t imagine life being more perfect, even though fall is preparing for winter and spring. Everything is good and maybe it’s in our fall seasons when we depend on God the least because we feel we don’t need Him as much. That doesn’t mean He changes. He remains unmoved, even we our dependency waivers a little.

What I’m saying is that God can be trusted and He remains the same in every season of our lives. Just like the sun never changes its place, neither does our God. He is faithful no matter what is going on around us.

For our family, I believe for now our winter has ended and spring is here again. Our intense season of grief is changing to a time of celebration as we anticipate our sweet Caroline through adoption. I have no idea what she will be like, but I know that if she is sent to us by God, she will be the perfect gift because He is faithful. He’s been with us in every single, changing season. He’s proving His faithfulness through every step of our adoption.

I wonder which season you would say you’re in right now. I don’t you or the details of your life, but I pray today that you’ll believe with all your heart that while everything may be stripped away and laid bare around you, God never ever moves. If death or disease have come unannounced and God feels distant or silent, He’s not. If the heat is on and you’re being tested beyond what you can bear, trust His strength. And if everything in life is good and it doesn’t feel like you “need Him,” lean into Him even more. No matter what your season, He wants to be your God in it. How I pray you’ll let him.

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens..” Ecc. 3:1

Amy

Even If

If I were to ask you right now to tell me your your greatest, most intense fear, what would you tell me?

I’m not talking about spiders, snakes, crowded places, or fear of heights. I’m talking about the fears that leave you paralyzed just thinking about them. The life-altering ones. The ones that make you instantly feel sick to your stomach. The fears that, if they came to pass, might change the life you always imagined for yourself.

I remember sitting in our ladies discipleship class one Sunday night as we listened to a teaching DVD by Beth Moore. Her words seemed to resonate with me that night, as she described her thoughts on this very thing– fear. I guess I was so intrigued by what she was saying because a large part of my life has been spent playing tug of war between faith and fear over one thing or another, mostly the life-altering fears. I’ll never forget what she said; it has stuck with me ever since. “If the thing you fear most were to happen, then what? Would you trust the Lord, even if?” (paraphrased)

At that time, I was four months pregnant with Collier and had no idea that just two months later, my greatest fear would become reality. Not only once, but a year later it would be a nightmare-turned-reality twice.

I’m not sure exactly how to word what I guess I had been thinking without saying up until that point, but it might go something like this: “Lord, I will trust you, but please don’t let anything horrible happen in my life. I know You’re strong and able, but I don’t want to go through anything hard. No losses, no tragedies, no disease. Just keep all the majorly difficult stuff away, and we’ll be good. Deal?”

Unfortunately, that’s not the way it works. God doesn’t shelter us from adversity. He doesn’t withhold hardship. He doesn’t keep all our greatest fears from happening (even though most of them probably won’t). He enters the fire with us.

I love the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. It’s always been a favorite, but it has a deeper, more significant meaning to me now. These three young men were serving God faithfully, unashamed, wholeheartedly–and adversity came anyway. I love what they said; it’s such a bold declaration of faith!  “We know the one we serve CAN save us, but even if He doesn’t, we still choose to serve Him.” (paraphrase)

Did God save them from hardship? NO. What happens was even better–He entered the fire with them. I get chills every time I read this.  “Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, ‘Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?…Look! I see FOUR men walking around, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” (Daniel 3:24-25)

If that doesn’t get your heart pumping, you might want to check your pulse! Y’all, God doesn’t promise to remove your difficult circumstances or shelter you from them. He promises to walk with you in the midst of it!! He enters your pain and suffering with you.  His presence goes before you, behind you, and beside you. And in the midst of your trouble, He removes the ties that bind you so that you can walk unbound and unharmed. What a great and mighty God! My eyes are full of tears right now just thinking about it.

See, if He removed all of your difficulty, it would also remove the opportunities for Him to reveal His glory to a lost and dying world. What resulted from the the fiery furnace? People saw the glory of God and were changed. Those who were enemies of God put their trust in Him. And the three in the fire? They came out without even a hint of a smell of smoke!

ONLY GOD can do that. And He’s done it for me. My greatest fear wasn’t kept from me. It happened twice, and the Lord has been with me through it all. He has walked with me through the fire, and has brought glory to Himself in the worst of circumstances! Has it been enjoyable? No! But through it all, God has put his glory on display and accomplished more than I “could have ever asked or imagined (Eph 3:20).”

So even if Lord, I will trust you. If my greatest fears continue to become reality, I will praise you in the midst of the fire, because You’ll walk with me. Use me up and pour me out for the glory of Your name. You are worth it, even if.