I can’t be the only one who has an existential struggle with winter year after year. It’s nice for the month of December, when there’s reminders of the joy of Christ’s birth at every turn, but when the tree comes down, and the Christmas lights turn off, suddenly everything seems bleak. The days are short, the cold is inescapable, and all the songbirds that cheer us on from spring through fall have wisely chosen to go somewhere tropical. For me, winter is the hardest season.
But there’s always something isn’t there? We hate the Spring in the moment because our allergies ail us. The Summer time is hot, too hot. And Fall is when all of the lush greenery comes to screeching halt. When the days are lengthy, we yearn for dark, cool evenings. When the days are short, we crave more sunshine. We always look forward to the next season, thinking that perhaps this time around it could fulfill our aching hearts. But nothing will pacify our insatiable displeasure like the Gospel and the Truth of Scripture.
We’re finite creatures sustained by the infinite God. When the miracle of salvation takes place in an individual, there’s suddenly a shift in how we view time. Death is no longer the end. This life is penultimate. However, during this soul-shift of perspective, we are still creatures of habit; we still long for the next thing—the best thing.
Our finitude demands that we pay attention to time-keeping tools. In our everyday lives, this looks like clocks or phone screens, but we see in Genesis 1:14-15 that God has always given us a way by which to measure time.
“And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for season, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.’ And it was so.”
We were created by an eternal God, with fragile time-keeping limits in mind. He created time for us, for our benefit. Before the fall, during the creation of Earth, He had the seasons and days in mind. After the fall, this need for time-keeping was intensified. In our fallenness, we aren’t able to have a naturally helpful relationship with time. Maybe we waste time being late. Maybe we waste time by being too early. We can waste time when we scroll through social media. We can waste time sleeping-in. I’m not saying that all time spent being early, or late, or sleeping is wasted. But I am saying that time is too easy to waste. Seasons are here to be useful to us. Days are here to structure our work unto the Lord.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
. . .
a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
. . .
a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
. . .
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate;
. . .
For the longest time I was someone who just wished time away, rushing through seasons to get to greener grasses. But we won’t arrive at greener grasses this side of heaven. So, it best to learn to the art of sinking into the seasons instead of wishing them away. In the book of Ecclesiastes we see that Solomon was well-aware of the seasons we weather in life. Instead of indicating that we should continue striving for the next season, the “better” thing, we see that seasons have a purpose. Each season has its proper time.
To be clear: I’m not speaking of weather patterns and times of year anymore. I’m talking about the time of grief you’re in, or the disappointment billowing over you. I’m drawing attention to the season of mothering young children, and the season of empty-nesting. The season of bareness and the season of prosperity. The season of busyness and the season of boredom. The season of learning and the season of teaching.
Ephesians 5:15-16 and Colossians 4:5 remind us to walk wisely in life, making the best use of our time on earth; the apostle Paul directly ties the wisdom we have to how we use our time. We would do well to pay close attention to that sentiment. The stewardship of our seasons ought to be persuaded by Scriptural wisdom. Time here is too short to do less.
This means that we savor each season of life, and we display the truth of the Gospel through it all. We relish the white blankets of winter, and the time of rest it forces us to endure. We appreciate the new life that Spring ushers in with blooms, and new shoots from the soil. We enjoy the warmth and closeness of the faithful summer sun. We delight that Autumn prunes itself, making new room for the next season of growth.
In walking wisely, we must also walk contented. These two things go hand-in-hand. When we walk in wisdom and contentedness, we steward our seasons purposefully with the knowledge that the best is yet to come and that this earth is not our home. Each season is relentless in its own respect. Each season challenges us. Let’s learn, together, the beauty of sinking into every season, and enjoying the brevity of each.
Sarah Morrison is a staff writer for The Daily Grace Co.