I'm pretty sure most people have a favorite season. Mine's fall. It always has been, even before the magic of pumpkin spice everything. I anticipate that first morning I walk out my door and feel the first waves of its presence. The slight breeze brings in that first breath of crisp, autumn air. You can almost hear the leaves twitching with excitement to paint the landscape with fiery reds, bright oranges, and bold yellows, an orchestra of color descending on a canvas of green.
It's a time of preparation. Animals gather the food they will need to survive the upcoming winter. Farmers gear up for the fall harvest. Flip flops and bathing suits make way for sweaters and hoodies. We grab our rakes from the sheds and line our walkways with mums. Here in Tennesse, Saturdays become sacred, and most everything begins to turn into orange as the Volunteer faithful get ready for another football season.
I used to think about fall in terms concerning death. It's the season everything dies. After their spectacular show of color, the leaves dry up to a crinkly, dull brown and fall to the ground and leave barren branches. Fields of corn are reduced to dirt and husks. The mums wither. And one morning, you'll walk out the door, and the first frost will have covered the last signs of life.
But in reality, this was not seasonal death but the shedding of the old, making way for new growth in the spring. Nature prepares to rest as fall will give way to winter. There's a reason so many poets, writers, and artists compare our own lives to the changing of the seasons. Birth, growth, harvest, death. The cycle continues. Our spiritual lives are no different. Our faith will go through similar patterns. Awakening, thriving, abundance, and doubt.
Sometimes we feel like we'll never progress. We are stuck in stages of perpetual weeding. Our harvest being choked out by our doubt. Or we are in the frozen tundra of winter, nursing the tiniest sign of life, fighting for a glimmer of hope.
Last year, I was a substitute teacher in a Kindergarten class for a few days. One of the lessons was on the seasons, and the question was what would happen if the seasons didn't change. Of course, the first thing they thought was how cool it would be to have summer forever. We believe that way too. Why can't I stay in this nice, warm, comfortable space of faith I'm in right now? All is right with the world. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and life is good. Because just like nature, we are not made to stay in one place and point in time with our faith. An eternal summer is not the paradise it would appear to be. Imagine the bugs. There's no ice and snow to drive them into hiding or to thin them out. The animals don't hibernate so they are fighting over food. And if there's not enough food for them, then that means there's probably not going to be enough for us. And y'all, let's be honest. Most of us start complaining about the heat somewhere in mid-June.
Wherever you are right now, whether it's the exciting stage of new growth, a period of rest, or a too-long winter, this is not where your faith ends. This is your place of preparation for the next season. And with each season, your faith gets stronger. You learn something new. You get closer to God, the author, and perfecter of our faith. Embrace where you are until the next season comes.