Wednesday, April 2, 2014

All Things Beautiful in His Time

This has been a particularly hard winter across most of the United States. We've had record snows, record cold, and harsh winds. On social media, I have read many pleas for the snow to stop falling and for spring to come.

I remember the winter-spring of 1974 in Springfield, Missouri, while Bob was preparing for the ministry. February saw temperatures in the 70's. We all joyfully shed our winter clothes. The trees and flowers began to bloom! Then March brought a week of near zero temperatures. Ice encrusted the blossoms. Flowers froze. That year's yield of fruit was nearly nonexistent.

My father, now a retired pastor living in Central Washington, often reports on the snowfall in the Cascade Mountains that feeds the mighty Columbia River, praying that it will be sufficient for the ranchers to irrigate their crops of timothy hay, their money crop as well as food for their cattle. The orchard owners, too, depend on irrigation to grow the luscious cherries, plums, peaches, apricots, pears, and apples for which the Yakima and Kittitas Valleys are known.

These examples provide object lessons for us that God has set an order in His universe, springtime and harvest, winter and summer--all are necessary in their proper order. Temperatures too warm too early or too cold too late set up conditions for failure of the fruit crops. In the dry western states, the winter snows in the mountains are necessary to provide water for irrigation of farmlands in the valleys. The melting runoff fills rivers and reservoirs that supply drinking water to the cities. Too little snow results in devastating drought.

So it is in our lives. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 tells us that "for everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven." The passage goes on to list those activities both negative as well as positive. Then verse 11 announces, "Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time." Snow in the winter is beautiful. No snow in the winter just like freezing cold in the summer kills.

In Romans 8:28, 29, the Apostle Paul declares that "we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son." I have noticed in my own life that it is in the most difficult circumstances of my life that I have grown the most.

I once heard a story of a farmer who complained to God that He hadn't sent the elements when needed for his crops to grow. God promised to send rain and sun whenever the farmer asked. The farmer planted his crops. He prayed for rain, and God sent the rain. He prayed for sun, and God sent the sun. Everything seemed to be growing just fine. The cornstalks were tall and green. The farmer was happy.

Harvest time came. The farmer checked an ear of corn to see if it was ready for cutting. To his shock, the ear was too small and deformed. He checked another ear. It too was stunted. Every one he checked was substandard. "Why, God?" he asked. And God replied, "You forgot to pray for the winds and storms to buffet the corn and get the juices flowing that cause the corn to develop healthy, full-sized ears."

Of course, that is a made-up story, but we get the point. We need the buffeting winds of life's storms in order to become like Christ, who endured so much yet set an example for us to follow.

So, "weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning" (Psalm 30:5, NLT). Snow may fall for a season, but then comes spring with its myriad displays of colorful flowers. The snow melts and fills the rivers. The earth is watered and everything grows green again. After the Great Flood of Noah's day, God set His rainbow in the sky as a promise that "as long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night" (Genesis 8:22).

In His time, God makes all things beautiful, even me--if I will allow life's trials to make me better, not bitter.

No comments:

Post a Comment