As summer greens fade into Autumn oranges, brilliant yellows, and crimson reds, what was hidden is revealed and what was not known becomes known. So preoccupied with the glories of long summer days and so accustomed to the green foliage that surrounds, I forget the greater beauty that awaits us in Autumn, just under the chlorophyll that sustains the leaves hanging stealthily from branches and limbs until their season is complete.
We are currently in a season of waiting as we discern God’s next call for us. I’m reminded of the changing seasons, wondering what design of beauty sits just under the green of the leaves, waiting to be revealed in its time. I sweep the leaves that have fallen from the tree outside our patio. I clear the weeds from our garden boxes and leave a box filled with stunted corn, herbs that have gone to seed, a seashell brought home from the coast, and a clay flower pot we are hoping provides shelter for some of our woodland friends. Our bird feeder is filled and the squirrel has not stolen food for ages, but contentedly runs past our hollow every day, gathering nuts and food from some other source, I suppose.
Meanwhile, we share life together. Making meals, taking classes, rejoicing with friends in the birth of their children, assisting some in their labors, creating and being recreated daily, and reading to our children so many books, that our eyes hurt. There are plane rides, and illnesses, dentist appointments and field trips. There is laughter and tears. There is faith and there is fear. And above all, there is God with us.
Immanuel, God with us. This truth pervades everything in our existence. God is with us in our struggles. He grieves with us in our pain and sickness. He walks with us through our confusion, our trials, and our woundedness. He knows what it is like to walk in this broken world filled with misunderstandings, rejection, and no home to call his own. He is familiar with it all and understands more than we can comprehend. Yet, he did not set out to prove himself. He faithfully walked in His calling and entrusted Himself to the Father. He didn’t deny His own grief, but let the tears bleed red upon the ground He created.
Jesus remained faithful to the Call. And for the joy that was set before Him, He continued to walk into all that the Father had for Him to do. So, for the joy set before us, we wake up to a new day, seeking to live faithfully in this waiting, as we complete the next seven months of our current season. Watching the leaves fall off the trees and become barren, we are reminded of the shedding of former seasons. With the certain hope of spring, we’re reminded of how God is forming us for a new work, one that is yet unknown, unseen. Like new buds, and fresh growth ready to appear in its time, it will surely come. What I’ve learned about seasons is that you cannot rush them or force them to change as much as wearing my Fall sweaters doesn’t cause the temperatures to cool down and wearing my rain boots won’t bring one single drop of water from the clear blue mid-western skies.
Our garden boxes are cleared now. They are ready for the cold, the rain, and the promised snowfalls of the approaching winter. The weather has cooled and it rains outside my window in the dark of night as the children fall asleep. A baby was born last week and one is due shortly. There are meals to prepare, requests for prayer, and fellowship shared. There are applications and evaluation forms to fill out, job opportunities to consider. There are bikes to be ridden and books to be savored, Lego to build and laundry to fold. There is laughter and tears. There is faith and there is fear. But above all, there is God with us… Immanuel. This is the truest truth that speeds the darkness away and brings shalom to my soul, for it is a peace that is eternal.
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us).
Matthew 1:22-23 ESV