It’s happened. Our beloved guest, Summer, has slipped quietly out the back door. Good-bye blazing sun. Farewell popsicles, pedicures and pool parties. So long blissful river days with my crew. Speaking of my crew…back to school for them. Already? We were really enjoying our little groove. Their absence stings as it slowly rips at this mama’s heart. So here I am, ripped open, dispirited and kind of annoyed. There is a rather obtrusive nine month waiting period that now stands between me and Summer’s return. No more family games of flashlight tag outside past bedtime or spontaneous, mid-day Bible studies in our jammies. And it will be too long until we get to spend treasured time with far-away family. Yep, Summer has left. I should be happy, I know. Fall, a beautiful and peaceful season here in Southern Oregon, is just around the corner. But I’m just not feeling it. Maybe getting outside will change my state of mind.
As I set out for a quick morning run, the Autumn breeze greets me like an old friend. Warm and embracing, like a hug. I can feel God’s presence in that hug. Still thinking about how Summer zipped by too fast, Ecclesiastes 1 pops into my mind. “‘Futile! Futile!’ laments the Teacher, ‘Everything is futile!’ A generation comes and goes, but the earth remains the same throughout the ages. The sun rises and the sun sets; it hurries away to a place from which it rises again. The wind goes to the south and circles around to the north; round and round the wind goes and on its rounds returns” (vv. 2,4-6). I run on, contemplating the seasons and how they come and go. God gently reminds me that Summer is sure to return in all its same splendor. And vibrant Fall has so much in store. Right here on this country road, God whispers to my heart, “Just as you run forward, not backward, so are you to look ahead, not behind. Be thankful for what I gave you in Summer, but be ready for what I have for you ahead.”
Still laboring through my funk (and my run), I begin to ask God what the point of all this is. “If nothing is new under the sun, and if everything is futile, then what is the reason we are here?” I ask. I feel myself agreeing with King Solomon, “All this monotony is tiresome, no one can bear to describe it” (Ecclesiastes 1:8). Another school year. More schedules to keep. Many more lunches to pack. Homework. Laundry. Alarm clocks sounding. Do it all over again. It whirls by faster and faster. People giving up. Marriages dissolving. Kids losing. Hearts breaking. See it all over again. Father God, help me see the foundation in all this.
That delightful Autumn breeze keeps up with me as I run, reminding me of something. Something strong, steady and alive: hope. The thought of hope nearly knocks me motionless. Just as one season softly slips away, we are given the gift of another season. And another. And another. Until our beloved Summer returns, just as promised. We can trust that a season full of blessings will return. More importantly, our loving God is there in every season. In the seasons of laid back afternoons. In the seasons of hustle and bustle. In the seasons of heavy storms, and of new beginnings. He is there. I know this with every ounce of my being. What the world has to offer is meaningless, yes. But God rolls in seasons overflowing with relevance and purpose.
I begin to feel a little lighter as I quicken my steps home. I hurry through the front door, straight to my Bible, opening it to Ecclesiastes. I know that in the last two verses, king Solomon proclaims the lesson he’s learned while living through monotony. Here, he ends his lamenting with, “All has been heard; the end of the matter is this: Fear God (revere and worship Him, knowing that He is) and keep His commandments, for this is the whole of man (the full, original purpose of His creation, the object of God’s providence, the root of character, the foundation of all happiness, the adjustment to all inharmonious circumstances and conditions under the sun) and the whole duty for every man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13 AMP). Worship God. Acknowledge Him and do what He says. Our foundation. The reason we are here. We must turn our eyes upward toward Him, the giver of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17).
Seasons are a gift to break the monotony, without breaking our hope. There is such beauty, such glory to be grasped in each season. Even in the cold, dark seasons. Through all the changing colors, temperatures and activities, hope remains. Through all the changing circumstances, hope is strong. Through all the changing conditions of our hearts and minds, hope is always within our grasp. It is eternity we hope for. Better days. No weeping. No pain. Joy unspeakable. We have the hope of heaven, in the warm days and in time slowing. We have the hope of heaven in the dying and falling leaves and in the rush of brisk air. We have the hope of heaven in the thunder and blizzards and heavy snow falling. The hope of heaven is seen in fresh rain and young, green buds. Hope will not slither away out the back door with Summer. Hope is here to stay.