“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 everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it, so men will revere Him.” Ecclesiastes 3:11,14
I love autumn in Colorado when the snow is a sugar dusting on top of the mountain peaks and the deep green pine trees pay homage to aspen leaves shimmering in rivers of gold undulating over scrub brush ablaze in deep reds. The air is crisp and fragrant with wood smoke and spice. The light is softer now, framing everything in gentle sepia tones. Sounds are muted, too, from the soft crunch of leaves underfoot to the gentle breeze stirring each gathered pile.
Nature seems to be slowing down and I feel the call to a slower pace as well. The hectic, playful days of summer are over and the still winter silence looms ahead. This is a season of reflection. There is a gathering of thoughts and feelings, memories, and dreams; a harvesting of moments captured in amber and preserved for sustenance during long winter days.
Looking out my window this afternoon at my leaf-laden lawn, I reflected on these verses in Ecclesiastes, and I realized that autumn is an amazing reminder of God’s providential power, love, and care for His creation. Earlier in Ecclesiastes, Solomon reminds us that “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot” (Ecc. 3:1-2). From the surface, it appears that the harvest season is a time of endings – crops are gathered in and fields lie fallow, plants and trees are bare and brittle, days are shorter, and nights are longer, porch swings are empty and front doors are closed tight against the chill. But there is beauty and purpose in these autumnal endings, even if we don’t always fathom them.
Below the surface, where only God sees, life and nurturing continue. Plants prepare for the winter frost by shedding their leaves enabling them to conserve energy that will be needed for spring buds. Broken and dead branches are pruned back, and a bed of straw covers seeds to protect them from germinating too soon. This is also time for the gardener to reflect on his harvest and make plans for changes that need to be implemented to improve his yield.
It is in the slower pace of autumn that God’s nurturing continues in me, below the surface of my life where only He sees. In times of reflection with my Bible open and my journal near at hand, there is time to settle down in Him and allow Him to work. Often, dead limbs of sin and selfishness need to be cut back; the soil of my heart is mulched with the nutrient of His truth; and a warm blanket of His love covers and protects the tender seeds He will bring to fruition. Reflection is also a time for honest evaluation before the Lord. I want this hidden, often hard, work of autumn to continue in my life. I want to yield myself to necessary endings, so I am ready for new beginnings. I want to fully cooperate with God’s sanctifying work to conform me to the image of His Son. This is a slow process; it is the work of autumn.
It is here, in this changing season around and in me that I know the eternity God has set in my heart. The longing for forever, of no more endings, burns within me as I yield myself up to the goodness of His providential care. I breathe in the autumn air and breathe out praise! There is a time for everything under heaven, and everything God does will endure forever. This is the hope of autumn; this is beauty. ©
- How has God grown me during this past season of my life?
- Harvest Inspection:
- Who is God calling me to love sacrificially?
- How joyfully do I respond to difficult circumstances?
- How do I exhibit peace in the middle of the chaos of our world?
- Where do I need to show patience in my daily interactions with others?
- What act of kindness can I do anonymously this week?
- How can I acknowledge good in others?
- What area of my life have I neglected that needs my faithful commitment?
- Who needs a gentle touch or word from me today?
- In what area do I need to exercise self-control?
- Are there endings that need to be evaluated, released, and even celebrated?