Autumn is in full swing here in Northern Italy. This season has always been my very favorite (I know that is now the “cliche” thing to say, thanks to the increased popularity of pumpkin spice lattes, big sweaters, & fuzzy boots), but cliche or not, I find such beauty in the contrast of the autumn season. Warm air gives way to a crisp, refreshing new air. The trees go from their very peak of liveliness, to a radiant hue of assorted colors, ending eventually in a bland state of sleep for the winter. Though the end seems dreary, the moment of change is a miraculous sight.
As I enjoy the autumn around me, I feel nostalgic of my years growing up in Northeastern Pennsylvania (NEPA, as we locals like to call it). In NEPA, the autumns are always such an incredible time — most days the sun shines strong & bright amidst slightly gray clouds — the contrast accentuating even more the incredible hues of the changing trees (as seen in the attached photo from a short hike I did in NEPA a few years ago).
The time there was (& is) beautiful & the time here is beautiful. Even as I write this I cannot help but be drawn back to Ecclesiastes chapter 3 where Solomon reminds us that; “there is a time for everything, & a season for every activity under heaven (v. 1).”
If there is any one theme I can pinpoint in my life over the last few years, it would be the idea of changing seasons. Sure, the outdoor seasons change always, but often I think we are too busy to even notice fully the majesty of such a thing. We have become accustomed to this change — we expect it & we fail to revel in it.
In the past few years, the Lord has given me a life that makes it hard to miss the changing of the seasons. When the heat gives way to the cold, I feel it not only on my skin, but in the deepest part of my being as my heart prepares for another change. This happens with every season – I notice more each year that as the weather changes, I am filled with both grief & joy. Grief at the ending of the last season which has held so many precious moments, so many answered prayers, so many joys & pains. And joy at the fresh start that is beginning that holds the potential for new memories, deeper relationships, unknown challenges, & unimaginable joys.
In each season I see God work in new & incredible ways. I count myself blessed to experience these things on a deeper level each year, but with the greater depth of understanding comes a greater struggle against the change. As many times as I have seen God be so incredibly faithful through the change, when it begins approaching again, I find myself fighting harder to let go of the ending season so I can fully embrace the coming season. The more I have seen God’s goodness, the more I find myself fearing the unknown.
It’s a strange dichotomy really; one that defies any rational explanation. It seems trusting should come easier with each experience of God’s provision, yet I find my human understanding continues to fight for answers, for control, for some sign that the coming change is the right one.
And yet, even when I doubt & fear that God’s goodness is not enough, He calls me closer, holds me tighter, carries me through to the next season, & there I find new gifts waiting for me — gifts that I could never experience if I didn’t embrace the new season. There are new challenges too of course, but in those challenges, God always reveals more & more of Himself, leading to some of the greatest gifts I could have never even hoped for.
“I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy & do good while they live. That everyone may eat & drink, & find satisfaction in all his toil – this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it & nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere Him.” – Ecclesiastes 3: 10-14