By CHRIS BATES
Nature’s transitions are remarkable. The harsh bite of winter will test your body and senses when hiking to 12,000 feet in the snow. There is a window in my house that perfectly frames the entire spectrum of leaves changing color each fall. In the spring it is easy to see newness in small flowers in the yard, white blossoms on Bradford pear trees, and neon green buds on bushes all around. At some point during every summer of life since childhood, I have jumped in the lake and felt the cold layers of water below when the temps up above the surface are unbearably hot.
The changing seasons reflect the unstoppable flow of change over time. As I spend time in the outdoors, whether in the woods or in the yard, the rolling of the seasons brings newness, and that also means we are moving forward from what was. Our experiences of last spring will not happen again the same way, but the heat of next summer will grant us new opportunities to use our senses in different ways.
These same transitions occur in human life. We shift from childhood into adulthood, and then the seasons really start to become noticeable. After school we begin to support ourselves in the world. Maybe we find a significant other and have children. Our careers transition between companies, occupations or pursuits. Quite likely our faith evolves and may take steps backward before hopefully moving forward.
What is noticeable as we walk our pathway is the variation in the seasons. Some are so easy, such as when we meet that special someone, or a job transition comes together, or one of our children makes the school play. Other seasons are of grief, challenge or poor health. We cannot control that the seasons are coming, or all of what they will contain.
Many places in the Word describe God’s intentional process of the seasons, such as Psalm 104:19-23, which says, “He made the moon to mark the seasons, and the sun knows when to go down. You bring darkness, it becomes night, and all the beasts of the forest prowl. The lions roar for their prey and seek their food from God. The sun rises, and they steal away; they return and lie down in their dens. Then people go out to their work, to their labor until evening.” The story given here demonstrates that the cycle of seasons and things that occur during them are coming and will always.
The opportunities come around how we handle the transitions. We really do have choices, even during the greatest of challenges. Importantly, we should prepare during the sunshine for when the rain will come. We should exercise our bodies, strengthen our minds and save our money.
The only way to do any of those well is to be intentional. Being intentional means putting progress in our own way. I set reminders on my phone, while my wife prefers sticky notes. Saint Augustine is attributed with saying, “Take care of your body as if you were going to live forever; and take care of your soul as if you were going to die tomorrow.”
As life changes and we stroll through time, we choose either to progress or to be stagnant. Remember, you are a product of your decisions, not your circumstances. Even if circumstances are dark or difficult, we can choose to take small, sometimes micro steps. When our season is filled with gratitude and joy, then we store that up and thank Him well.
Today, look around and see what season you are in, then prepare for the next seasonal transition. Be assured that it will include His grace.
Chris Bates is CEO and co-founder of AgoraEversole a full-service marketing agency in Jackson, and can be reached at Chris@AgoraEversole.com. He and his wife, Stacy, and their children live in Madison.