Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Being Brave in Every Season

Rising against the steel grey-blue sky, snow geese flap and wave as they beat their wings to a silent calling that propels them on their epic journey.

These winged messengers that travel between heaven and earth, herald the news of a change in season.

I've heard it's true. That birds know more than humans about seasons.

Or maybe they simply respond to what they know.

They don't hold a meeting, appoint a committee or consult groundhogs. They don't go by the calendar or the time change or make decisions based on their emotions. They just instinctively respond by setting their bodies into motion.

The winter has been gentle in my part of the world. Green tufts of grass poke through on the slopes that get afternoon sun. In this month of typically frozen temperatures, there have been many spring-like days that feel like summer.

The kind of warm air that feels good to bones that are passed the half-century mark.

Walking along the shore of the lake, flecks of light shimmer off the water and the air is sweet. Fishermen bob and sway in their little boats like a dance with design and sequence. These same men huddled in their fishing huts on thin ice pitched dangerously close to the edge of open water just two weeks ago.

They were reluctant to shift with the seasons.

The change came regardless.

As much as I love this season of the days growing light, a season that will soon turn to lush grass and flowering bushes of summer, I also embrace the warmth of autumn with its rich tones and the great harvest.  I even love the deep chill of winter and the hot chocolate and good books that come with it. And then spring pushes back the veil as it brings the sweet hope of new beginnings and life begins again.

There are other seasons I'm more reluctant to embrace.

Six years ago I was shaken awake, into a season of cancer. It was an uninvited season. One where you want to wake up from the bad dream and wrap yourself tight in a patchwork quilt, huddle on the couch with a hot cup of tea to insulate your heart from the bitterness of it.

It was a day just like today. When the hard edge of winter was slipping away and the time change was about to make every morning brighter. The truth of this season has become more apparent now, than when the word, "cancer" arrived.

Now ––looking back–– I see it better for what it was.

There were people that I met in those waiting rooms ––many of them are now gone. But those days I got to hear some of their story and the season that had landed them there. Holding their hand in silence was a bit like sharing communion, at least, a communion of tears. I met doctors and nurses and people on the elevator. Most of them I'll never see again, and they gave me the gift of themselves.

That hard season didn't leave before it accomplished some much-needed pruning in my life, allowing new life to push forward. 

It has taught me about the in-between times.

The uninvited season.

The times that don't seem to go away.

The kind of seasons that leave little room to make up your mind about the next move because you are only able to do the next move that has been planned for you.

Those seasons of unique pressures that shatter the thin walls of hollow souls. 

Maybe seasons like you've experienced? Measured between infertility and conception and delivery. The space between pain and comfort. The time that lapses between the persistent calling on your life and the realization of that dream unfolding. The eternity between the diagnosis and the healing, the strained relationship and the restoration, the financial crisis and the breakthrough, the broken heart and the blessing or the crisis and the miracle.

We all know that some of these seasons don't have a happy-ever-after, the guy-gets-the-girl kind of giddy end.

These seasons test what we are made of and Who we live for.

The same God who made the moon to mark the seasons, and tells the sun when to go down.... is the God who knows the number of our days and hears prayers said from sincere hearts.

In the most difficult, unwanted seasons I've found a few things that usher peace into the crazy.

I go to the promises. Promises like this one; “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

No matter how hopeless a day or moment may feel, the God of Hope.... will fill us with joy and peace as we trust Him, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The secret ––if there is a secret–– is to be thankful.

I've had to speak it out loud. To put a voice to my own doubt, for the enemy of my soul to hear and anyone else who may be listening;  "....I will praise You, God." "Yes, I will praise You!" "Nothing is too big for You." "And even if I never see an answer to this hard season, I will praise You...."

Something powerful happens when we praise God when things are hard.

I began to learn this praising Him thing... in seasons when my children shattered my heart.

I praised the Lord for opening the doors to my oncologist and the medical staff in another state in my journey through breast cancer.

I was overwhelmed by seeing God's hand in the final days and hours of my mom's life and was moved to praise Him through tears after seeing her exhale that last breath.

Certainly the praise wasn't because of the pain that was being lived out, but because He is God and these seasons will not have the last word in eternity.

We have to be ready in season and out of season. I have to preach the Word to myself and live it before others ––even when I don't feel like it.

Especially when I don't feel like it.

These seasons demand their own time frame. While they can be harsh like winter and produce new growth like spring, the transition of their arriving and departure isn't marked out by weather patterns or hours of sunlight, but by the hand of God.

He has us all on an epic journey.

Our part is to trust Him in it all.

Day after day we live.

Sometimes it's easy to think nothing has changed ––until we look back and realize––  we have changed and so, therefore, everything has changed. 


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© Rhonda Quaney