Every piece of laundry I own is covered in baby vomit and toddler snot. I’ve come to the place where I expect at least 2 wardrobe changes a day because baby will inevitably give me those big eyes, coo and then puke down my shirt and the toddler will run over to me and rub his nose across my sleeve, my stomach, wherever he can wrap around his face. I normally suck my teeth, whisper, “awesome,” and grab one of the plethora of towels I keep in arm’s reach. A mantra that bounces around my head surfaces in those moments, “It’s just a season.” But what does that mean?
I think it’s important to understand that seasons are appointed by God. In Daniel, it says God changes seasons and times. Ecclesiastes 3 takes it further and says that there is an appointed time for nearly everything. There is an appointed time to run and a time to sit, appointed times for rain and sun, for growth and rest and so on and so forth. I think of seasons as a measure of time where space is given to purposefully focus on or experience just a few aspects of life. Whether cyclical or singular, significantly longer or shorter than we expect, a season’s temporary nature allows us to be immersed in their full measure, to learn and grow before naturally transitioning to the next. The Father appointing them leads me to believe He does so to furnish for us an abundant human experience.
(That is not to say it is only the Father’s hand who causes the season we find ourselves in. I have a friend who moved to northern India after college. Something she’s mentioned in passing is preparing for monsoon season, because India has a monsoon season. However, I live in southern California, and if a monsoon came through here, it would mean something very wrong has happened and changed our weather pattern. All this to point out some seasons are strictly geographical. We are quick to ask God what we’re supposed to be gleaning in seasons of chaos while never evaluating our surroundings. Are you in community with people who are the emotional equivalent of monsoons? People you have to prepare to engage with or they’ll rip through your life, threatening to tear away your resources, peace of mind and stability, leaving a trail of wreckage for you to deal with? Whether you decide to move to a more agreeable emotional climate (without them,) or that the benefits of relationship outweigh the drawbacks (like people who live happily in tornado alley,) take note that the storms they come with aren’t necessarily those appointed for you, they’re ones you choose to chase.)
Most of us don’t think of abundant life as being saturated with grief, or marinating in travail. Many of us ask “why” when we’re forced to spend any true length of time in seasons of dryness, silence, or uncertainty. Even Jesus asked for an alternative as he struggled in a season of turmoil while he approached his death. It’s easy to see abundant life when we’ve got lots of money in the bank, are healthy, and experiencing fulfillment and affirmation. Those are great seasons that I’m sure given the choice, we would set our whole lives up to be that eternal spring, where everything is growing and increasing, full of sweet fruit. How is being covered in toddler snot and baby vomit living fully? What am I supposed to do when everything I see is transient and I have nothing to cling to? What am I to learn in the winters of my life, when conditions are harsh and nothing is growing?
“From the ends of the earth, I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” (Psalm 61:2) Of course we want to live in perpetual seasons of prosperity, but when we really think about it, where is it we experience the abundance of God in our lives? We want to say in times of joy and ease, but know that isn’t true. When we’re immersed in the less than desirable parts of the human experience, we hold to to the truth that unlike the seasons, the Father says, “I, the LORD, do not change. Therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed. ” (Malachi 3:6) Jesus echoed this when he said we build our lives on the Rock instead of on the sand, where our lives can’t be blown apart by the wind or washed away by the waves. The abundant life is established in these seasons because the stable, unyielding, unchanging God uses them to stretch our souls closer to His heart. The fullest, most realized lives are lived out from there.
I encourage you to journal through your seasons so that you can look back and see how full a life He’s purposed for you. I am praying that whether you are being equipped to live a fully flourished life, greater than one you could imagine putting together yourself, or are being stretched to His heart, learning to live from His hand, that you would find the space to thank Him. I pray that if you’re anything like me, you would surrender and repent of your desire to maintain an eternal spring, and that you would receive His grace when seasons change, eager to be fully immersed in the experience before you. I pray that your seasons of plenty would have more than enough to carry you through the seasons of lack, and more than anything, the Rock in which you stand would prove Himself faithful. Amen.