Winter is approaching; the lake will soon be covered with frigid ice. But today, gray-green waves dip and play as they stride across the water’s surface. Meanwhile the wind howls down the chimney of the lake house and whistles through the cracks around the windows.
Everything seems to be changing. Oak leaves recently provided shelter from the summer sun, but have now fallen to cover the ground. Some lay submerged on the bottom of the lake – black shadows of what once formed a glorious green canopy.
On the opposite shoreline, thousands of cattails stand at attention as they have all summer and fall. Once-supple, slender spikes have become stiff and splintered. Dark brown fingers will crumble as winter demands the release of millions of seeds.
The cattails must have known change was coming; they’ve been through all of this before. While the raspy calls of red-winged blackbirds serenaded them all summer long, they now relish solitude. Their seeds wait quietly for a day when they will fly like millions of tiny parachutists searching for an adventurous new place to start over.
I have to wonder if I adjust to the seasons of my own life as graciously as nature’s lakeside examples. When the winds of change blow an icy blast my way, I so often want to retreat to summer’s glow. And yet I am slowly learning that by refusing to accept change, I only cheat myself out of God’s best. His plan for me far exceeds my own.
The Bible teaches that as we die to self, we experience an unprecedented newness of life in Him. Therefore, I want to be ready to embrace whatever He has for me. Surely God knows when a bit of winter might be best for my soul.
Perhaps He is challenging me right now. I am tempted to long for what feels “summery” - vibrant health and energy, a sharp mind and quick wit, fruitful work and bountiful relationships. And yet in reality something else overwhelms and compels me: my heart! Even when changes seem frightening and winter looms right around the corner, I know what it means to be content. I know to hope in a way that surpasses mere intellectual understanding. I believe a God who promises to provide new beginnings.
My goal is to stand tall and straight through the seasons, like the cattails, so that my own maturing seeds of witness can take flight and root themselves in the hearts of others. Here at the lake the Lord reminds me to reflect on this truth: whatever is old needs to pass away in order for all things to become new.*
*…if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
II Corinthians 5:17 NIV