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by Pauline Carruthers 
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Itís springtime and the earth is waking up from winter sleep. Snowdrops are peeping through still hard ground, buds have appeared on the trees and a new baby is born. We wonder what the future holds for this tiny new life. Will this child be intelligent, beautiful or handsome; what type of personality will this child have; will this child develop good character or bad?
We can look at the leaves of a tree, plant or flower and know what to expect. We can know roughly what colour the flowers will be, whether they will be big or small, strong and upright or delicately droopy. They are all of a type, remain true to type and can be identified in one way or another. From almost the first appearing through the ground we can identify the species and size and know roughly the length of days before they will bud, the time span of flowering and just when we can expect them to fade and die and Ďretreatí back into the ground again. Even if we arenít familiar with each species we can buy a good gardening book and learn! But there is no way to identify the way this new baby will take. There are no guarantees. Will this child be healthy or sick, academic or practical, placid or volatile? Will this precious new life bring joy or heartache. We donít know, but God does! He knows each new life from before conception. He knows everything about this new life. He knows and He loves this new life. There is nothing hidden from God!

When the summertime of life comes, itís a time of developing and flowering. The plants in the garden are at their most beautiful. The wild poppies in the fields take your breath away and worries seem few and far between. The child has already begun to develop character and there is just an inkling of future disposition. We have already made clear what we expect of them in terms of behaviour; we have already taught them the fundamentals of life. Gently nurturing or strict regime, persistent encouragement or giving them a free rein, they will have a will of their own and they will use it. Sometimes that free will leads them into wrong ways and sometimes it leads them into great success. The summertime is a time of great excitement; being given that bit more freedom, character is formed, for better or worse.
At this stage we can usually spot the traits in a child we would rather werenít there; things we saw in the springtime that have now, in the summertime, developed further and perhaps become stronger. We continue to teach and guide and give them the opportunity of learning from our mistakes. We wonder what the future holds for this rapidly developing person, but we have no way of being absolutely certain. But God does. He knows and still loves this developing life. There is still nothing hidden from God!

In the autumn the leaves are usually turning into the most glorious colours. The sunset seems that much more spectacular in maturity and there are still lovely flowers to enjoy, though they might not be as spectacular as they were in the summertime. Though the grass is still growing there isnít the same urgency to keep cutting - growth is slower. This season is probably the best and most exhilarating. That once new life has now reached maturity and is independent, has made many decisions and is now reaping either the rewards of success, changing direction, plodding along in joyful contentment or wallowing in bitter regrets. Itís usually a season when lifeís ambitions have been reached, or of thinking itís too late, but there could still be dreams to fulfil. Itís a season of looking back, pondering on the path we have taken. Was it the right path or could there be more to life than what we have settled for? Could we have had something different, something better? We have no way of being really sure, but God does! He knows that whatever we have settled for, without Him we have not reached our potential! God knows and God still loves. There is never anything hidden from God!

Itís wintertime! The leaves have fallen and the ground has become hard again. There might be some flowers still bravely battling on in the garden, but their former glory has passed and they are faded and waiting for that final battle with the elements. The snow comes and a white beauty covers the earth, giving a sense of cleanness and purity. It gives a sense of stillness and expectation, but what we expect seems a mystery. Itís hard to imagine a life that such a short time ago was once new and holding such great promise, but now, like the flowers, is just waiting for that final battle. The earth sleeps through the winter, but there is unseen life under the hard ground, just as there is Ďunseen lifeí in a heart not yet submitted to God. There is nothing to see. But God sees and loves. There is still nothing hidden from God.

Beginning with the springtime of our lives right through to the end of the wintertime, God is trying to attract our attention. He has something to say to each one of us and shows us through the power of nature and the beauty all around us, that he does exist and all through our seasons has been constantly giving us the opportunities to recognise His hand in creation. When we didnít listen He made the ultimate sacrifice when He gave His Son Jesus, to die, so that we could be forgiven all the sins we ever committed, no matter what those sins might be. Our full potential can only be reached when we submit our lives into Godís hands and allow Him to lead and guide us in the decisions we make. Only God can restore a wrecked life and turn it around for the better. He will never give up on us, but He has given each one of us a free will, freedom to choose. Imagine being able to choose whether we go to Heaven or Hell! Itís mind blowing!

Some of us accept Jesus into our hearts and lives in the springtime, whilst others hang on a bit longer before submitting to Him. We might choose to live our lives right up to almost the end of the wintertime before deciding to make that decision, but is it worth taking that risk? Only God knows the time and the season when our life will come to an end and we could just find that we have simply left it too late. Yet, right up to the end God still loves and God still cares. There is never anything hidden from God.

Contact: pcarruthers@talktalk.net

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