As the leaves fall in layers outside my window, crunch beneath my shoes and swirl behind the cars, it reminds me summer is over and winter is coming. This little season we call fall prepares the way for holidays like Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. It ushers in chilly mornings, darker evenings and pumpkin spice smells in the kitchen.
I’ve often said that if I was a deciduous tree in fall, I would be the one to look around and say, “You know what, I’ve decided I’m keeping my leaves this year! I mean these are my favorite set! What’s the point of dropping my leaves now just to get them back again in a few months? Winter isn’t too bad here, can’t I just keep them?!”
What’s going to happen to me?
I’m probably going to freeze to death because if trees don’t drop their leaves in fall, they’ll die in winter from lack of food. Winter is not the time for nourishing extra things like leaves.
I joke, but seriously in my stubbornness I want to hold on to things when my season of life changes, instead of trusting God to faithfully provide.
And seasons of life do change.
Recently my husband has had to work away from home 4 days a week. What makes it even harder for me is that we are just coming off of a very busy couple of months. The first of September he took our oldest son on a 5 day “intro to manhood” campout. Then we went to Kenya. Ten days after we returned home, I spent two nights away at the Hutto Bible ladies retreat. The day I came home, I unpacked my suitcase while Adam started packing his for the week.
It’s not a schedule we’re used to or do well. We do well together.
I’ve heard it said that 80% of expectations are assumed and never voiced.
My expectation was that after the ladies conference, all the traveling would stop and life would return to its normal rhythm of work and homeschool. That plan was my resting point, the pinnacle of the mountain I kept my eyes on and what helped sustain me through the climb.
And now it’s not there. My expectation is not reality and I have to adapt and adjust. Yet what I really want to do is fold my arms in defiance and hang on to my leaves.
Yet God, in His gentleness and patience is asking me to let go and trust Him. Yes, it wasn’t what I expected. Yes, it’s a lot of hard work during the week. Yes, I miss Adam being home. But will I trust Him to work all things together for good, even this season?
As long as I hold tightly onto my leaves I’m wasting energy and depriving other areas of vital nourishment. I have to let my control and expectations drop.
The question I’ve asked the Lord is How can I thrive when seasons change?
He reminded me of something I spoke on at the retreat. John 15:4-5 “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
Just like how I would be that tree that refuses to drop her leaves in fall, I would be and have been that branch that rips itself off from the vine to grow better over there. Because over there looks so much better! The sun shines brighter. The soil looks richer. The other flowers look nicer and prettier. God must want me over there!
But if I rip myself out of the soil when seasons change I’ll definitely shrivel up. The Branch, Jesus Christ, is who protects me, keeps me anchored, nourishes me and keeps me warm.
When we abide in the vine, we gain nourishment from it, we mature. It’s the mature Christian who has endured pruning, experienced the cold of winter, the drought of summer, the thunderstorms, hail and tornadoes of spring, the inconsistent temperatures of fall and remained attached to the vine. In effect, the fruit that blooms is beautiful and beneficial to all who eat of it.
We can thrive when seasons change. It will just look differently. Fall and winter are some of the most photographed seasons, yet in my life I’d prefer to stay in spring or summer. So as it feels like fall outside my window and inside my heart, my prayer is for God to show me the joy in letting go of my plans and trusting His. Spring will come again!