Thursday, December 19, 2013

Trail Lessons – Seasons Will Come and Go

I often go for long walks on the Santa Fe Trail—“Empowerment Walks”.  I am extremely blessed to live in a beautiful place, with such gorgeous scenery, strong sunshine, and mostly mild temperatures.  My walks serve as a time to give my body some exercise and de-stress.  Most of all, my walks are a time for thinking, singing and worship, and talking and listening to God.  As I’ve walked miles and miles on the Santa Fe Trail, God has taught me an abundance of lessons and has reassured my heart and soul countless times.  Yesterday, I set out on another empowerment walk.

It is winter and everything is dead or asleep along the trail.  The grasses are brown and crispy, the deciduous trees are bare, the water in the streams is frozen, the wild flowers are gone, and the yucca pods are dry and empty.  I can relate to the winter season taking effect upon the trail.  I am also feeling like my life is in a winter season—a season that feels like it will never end.  Mostly, it has to do with an important relationship which is so broken that my heart can hardly endure the sorrow which that brokenness brings.

Currently, some construction is taking place along the trail.  Yesterday, I felt upset to see a particular part of my beloved trail trampled by bulldozers.  The bulldozers had come through that spot without any regard for the plant or insect life that thrived there and had squished it all for the ultimate benefit of the extension of the highway.  As I looked at the trampled plant life and the indentions of the bulldozer’s tires upon the ground, I thought how my heart feels the same way it all looked to my eyes.  Yet, I felt in my heart that those trodden wild plants were determined to rise again come spring.  It’s like they were saying to me, “Our roots go way deeper than what you see on this trodden surface.  We will rise again in the spring!”  I look forward to observing them accomplish their goal in a few months.

Following that area of the trail, I came across the familiar, small “field” of yucca plants.  It’s an area of the trail where the yucca plants are in great abundance.  Through the empty and dry yucca pods, God also spoke to me and promised me (again!) that even though there are life seasons of emptiness and dryness, there will be upcoming seasons of fullness and moisture. In the spring, new yucca pods will rise green, damp, and filled with beautiful white blooms.  The aphids, ladybugs, and other insects will come again and enjoy all that the yucca pods offer to them.  There will be life there again. 

As a human being, some seasons of my life feel like they last forever. Right now, a few years feels like an eternity.  Ironically, it’s never the moments of happiness which I feel last forever.  Oh no.  Our human feelings don’t work that way.  Happy moments always feel way too short!  It’s the seasons of pain that seem to last forever.  My strength drains away.  My courage wants to flee.  My perseverance wanes and wants to give up.  And the sorrow of my heart tempts the hope of my soul to be given up.  But God is gracious enough to remind me over and over again (as many times as necessary) that He is my Hope.  Hope (God) lives even when I may feel I have no hope left for the painful season to come to an end and a happier one to take its place. Hope (God) lives even when circumstances seem to only get more difficult or impossible.  Hope (God) lives even when anguish overcomes us.  Hope (God) lifts our head above desperation and sorrow.

Yesterday, there happened to be an empty yucca pod laying all alone on the trail.  It had fallen off one of the plant stalks.  I picked it up and carried it with me the two miles back to my car and brought it home.  As I walked and held the empty pod in my hand, God reassured me of its significance.  He said to me:

Mary Ann,

Weeping lasts for a season, but another season will bring joy… (Psalm 30:5)

For everything there is a stated time, and a season for every event under the heavens…God has made everything fitting in its season… (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 11)

Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it is sprouting. Do you not know it? Indeed, I am placing a way in the wilderness, streams in desolation… (Isaiah 43:19)

Today, the empty yucca pod sits on my desk here in front of me, but it’s no longer empty.  Last night, I wrote the three scripture references above on little pieces of paper and placed them inside the pod.  I also tied some colored ribbons around the stem of the yucca pod.  I decided the yucca pod and every season of life are God’s gifts to me.  Living through winter brings me to a deeper appreciation for spring.  In every season there are great lessons to be learned and special moments to be experienced. 

In the midst of this personal hard winter season, I continue to place myself, the broken relationship, and all of my trust in The One who holds every season in His hands—the sovereign God of all and over all, YHWH.  I place myself in His hands and turn to him to provide me with the strength, courage, perseverance, wisdom, and hope I need for each moment of each day.  I am thankful for His provision.

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