God’s faithfulness endures even though the seasons change

Summer is a fun time of year when you’re a little kid. There’s no school. You can run around outside and play. You can go to the zoo. You can eat ice cream and Popsicles and snow cones. Picnics in the park and swimming at the pool.

Summer as an adult isn’t as much fun because work doesn’t let out for the summer . . . well, if you’re a teacher it does. So maybe teachers feel differently about summer than I do. Summer for me is honestly a hassle, but I’m not a hot weather person so that probably adds to my general dislike of the season. And if we’re talking about this summer? This summer in Kansas was the hottest summer in history–50+ days over 100. And not just 102 or 103 . . . 113. So my electric bills for cooling have been ridiculous, even though I leave the house set on 85 or 90 most of the time. The only part of summer I really enjoy is that I can take my shoes off . . . when I’m not at work.

It’s funny because winter is the same way, although I like winter better than summer. When you’re a kid, winter is a magical time of year when you can see your breath and you can rejoice when it snows. And sometimes if it snows enough, school will close and you stay home and drink hot chocolate all day long.

Winter as an adult lost its allure for me the first time I had to dig my car out of a snow bank on the way to work . . . . and then it became a hassle when I had to drive my normal 45 mile drive to work on black ice, which took me two hours one way, and I had to do it at 5:30 in the morning to get to work on time . . . twice. Winter as an adult means snow removal, expensive clothes, shoes, and propane bills that skyrocket.

Granted, winter means Christmas, and that makes me happy. And I enjoy the snow when it first starts to fall. And if it snows on a day that I don’t have to go anywhere, I’ll turn right into a little kid.

But I think there are seasons in our lives that are like summer and winter. Long. Uncomfortable. Expensive. Too much to handle. Overwhelming, when life just saps all the strength you have and you’re too weak to stand up. Barren, when life drains out of all your efforts and it’s all you can do to believe that something is going to grow again.

But I believe God gives us seasons in our lives just as He gives us seasons on our planet.

Today’s verse is Joel 2:23.

23 Rejoice, you people of Jerusalem!
      Rejoice in the Lord your God!
   For the rain he sends demonstrates his faithfulness.
      Once more the autumn rains will come,
      as well as the rains of spring.

Spring can be hot and muggy, but there’s something spectacular about watching the world come back to life again. It always helps me remember that winter doesn’t last forever.

But by far, my favorite season is fall. It saddens some people because the trees turn brown and lose their leaves, but to me, it’s a reminder that everything changes. And it reminds me that no matter what stage of life I’m in, autumn is always going to come–regular as clockwork. And although I don’t really like change, I love autumn. There’s a chill in the air and the smell of pumpkin in all the stores I go into. It’s a time to bake and it’s a time to be with family. It’s not too cold, and it’s not too hot. I can still go barefoot, but sometimes I need a jacket.

For me, with every change of the season comes a time to rejoice. Because the one constant in life is that everything changes, except God. Though every part of our lives may turn upside down and all the way around, God remains the same. He is faithful.

No matter what season of life you’re in, God is there. If you’re in the spring and everything is new and exciting and fresh, He’ll walk beside you and show you new things you’ve never seen before.

If you’re in the summer and you’re tired of being tired and worn down and exhausted, He’ll carry you.

If you’re in the autumn and life is about to change, He’ll be with you, preparing you to face the challenges to come . . . without you knowing it for the most part.

And if you’re in the winter and you’re discouraged because your life feels bleak and barren, He’ll be there reminding you that life goes on. And trusting Him will give you strength to face the cold until spring comes again.

But no matter what part of life you’re in, He’s faithful. He never leaves us. He never abandons us. And He sends little reminders to help us see Him when we forget to look for Him. Like rain. Like sunshine. Like a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks . . . . =) . . . . Well, to each his own.

So rejoice. Today is a new day, and God will show Himself to you if you let Him.

Spring in Kansas (a.k.a. Bipolar weather in a state where the only constant is the wind)

Autumn is my favorite season, if I had to pick one. And I enjoy cold weather (although I’ve lost my fondness for it by this point). But there is something remarkable about spring. There’s something magical about watching the world coming back to life after it’s been sleeping for so long.

Spring is a beautiful reminder of how God works, I think. After a long season of struggling and discouragement, He renews everything and everything gets another chance to live again. It’s hard to remember though because winter can seem so very long. But spring always comes one way or another (although in Kansas, it seems to hang on longer every year . . . . blizzards in April?).

I guess to someone who has never lived in a bipolar place like Kansas, our winters might surprise them. We aren’t known for getting intense amounts of snow like New England. We aren’t known for consistent artic temperatures like Alaska. If we’re known for anything, it’s for our weather’s confusion. It’s not unusual in a Kansas winter to have the temperature vary 60 degrees in a day. This past winter, we had a 95-degree difference in less than a week. One day the high temperature was around -20 (without figuring in the wind) and less than a week later, it was like 75.

To someone who has never experienced Kansas weather, I think this state might confuse and frustrate them. Because when you’re ready for snow and ice, Kansas gives you fog and rain. And when you’re ready for rain, Kansas gives you a drought. And when you’re expecting a drought, you get tornadoes and hail the size of soft balls. In the winter, especially, the weather never does what it’s “supposed” to do. The only constant in Kansas weather is the wind (unless a tornado is on the way; then when it gets quiet, you need to run for your basement).

So I can imagine how frustrating it might be to someone who has experienced winter in other more consistent places. For example, if you live in New England, you know you’re going to get snow. And you know it’s going to be cold. Oppositely, if you live in California, you know the weather is going to stay in the 70s and be dry and beautiful.

Here? We freeze our butts off for a week and then we see the sun and can run around without a jacket on. It’s like the weather loves to show us a glimpse of warmth and then revels in dashing our hopes with a blizzard that leaves us buried in snow, topped with ice and finished off with freezing fog. And if you didn’t know that that’s just the way Kansas weather is, I could see that it might discourage you.

Life is kind of like that, though. Don’t you think? James 1:12 says this:

 12 God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

 Those of us who’ve lived in Kansas for a long time know that if you don’t like the weather, all you have to do is wait it out. Because our winters might be frigid and artic and frustrating, but our summers are hot and humid and fierce. If you’re not a winter person, just wait for summer because it will come.

I’ve found my relationship with God to be very much like Kansas weather. He never changes, of course. He always stays the same, and it’s me who does the changing. But there are times when stuff comes into my life that I don’t like. And it’s not necessarily because of anything I’ve done (although sometimes it is, and I’m just dealing with personal consequences). But most of the time, life just happens. Kind of like the weather. And at that point, I have two choices in how to respond to it — I can pout and be difficult and blue and unhappy; or I can just press on, doing the best I can, knowing that the weather will improve if I just give it time.

Trials and testing in our lives as Christians give us an amazing opportunity to put God to the test. If we are able to keep trusting Him even when nothing seems like it’s going right, we will be blessed. Now . . . notice that this particular verse doesn’t exactly imply that we’ll be blessed while we’re struggling. It actually seems to focus more on the fact that we’ll receive a reward when the trials/testing are over (this specific reward, the Crown of Life, is something we’ll be given when we get to heaven). But in any case, patiently enduring trouble that comes our way gives us the chance to know God for who He really is.

It’s kind of like stargazing. The best time to stargaze is in the winter. The night is clear and the stars are brighter. The only trouble is you go numb if you spend too much time outside looking up at the stars. But it’s worth it because you can see the stars and planets better than any other time. And if you wait until you’re comfortable outside, you won’t get as good a view.

If you wait until you’re comfortable in your life, you won’t get to know God very well because you don’t “need” Him as much as you do when you’re struggling.

I enjoy winter. I like snow (when I don’t have to drive on it), but by the end of the season I’m ready for it to go away. I’m ready for spring. I’m ready to watch the world come back to life, and there is something so wonderful about seeing flowers burst out all over trees, seeing grass climb out of the ground, seeing wheat growing in the field across from my home. It’s wonderful because it reminds me that God has kept His promise to return life to the Earth, and it encourages me because it reminds me that God will keep His promise to me.

Trials and testing don’t last forever. Just like Kansas weather, if you don’t like it, just be patient and try to make the best of it. Because it’s guaranteed to change.