It was a beautiful day today, and for the first time this season, I did a little work outside. Not much – just getting the large pots out for planting pansies in several weeks. And, I took one of the cars to be washed, and thought about changing out the winter floor mats. In several hours, spring 2011 will officially arrive.
But more important than these events, I was transported to the days of my childhood when my grandfather would teach me about nature and the change of the seasons. He had a real love of nature and as the oldest grandchild, I was usually able to go over to my grandparent’s home and “help” my grandfather get ready for spring. The coolest thing I did was to watch as he got out the Locke lawn mower (hard to find these old relics now) and then grease the chains, sharpen the blades, and make sure that it was in top working order. I remember the first spring he actually let me stand behind this green behemoth and try to start it up. It was neat – self propelled, separate throttle control and loud – all the things a boy would admire about a lawn mower.
And then he showed me how to cut the yard in “lands” – like the farmers did. He taught me that on the farm, you never tried to cultivate a row right next to the one you just finished – it was too hard to turn the tractor, so you would move over, sort of in an oval pattern, and it made the cutting much easier. And he talked about working with nature, and understanding the rhythm of how God ordered the seasons. Spring, the season of new hope and life – summer, the season when things got strong and real growth took place – fall, the time of harvest, when the farmers would reap what they had sown many months before – and finally winter, when God allowed the farmers, and nature, to rest after providing His bounty from the land.
Fall was my favorite time of year – the burning of leaves on the brush pile in his back yard – the stories of the harvest from the 800 acre farm he had bought for his sister in Jonesville, MI, and the memories of his own childhood, as he taught me to love the feel of soil as it passed between my fingers. He loved nature, but always thought about nature in the context of God’s love for His people. And to be perfectly honest about it, I did not care much about spring in my early childhood. To me it meant work, the end of the rest that God had provided during winter, and the necessary stuff that had to be done in anticipation of summer.
But as the years have passed, I have come to appreciate my grandfather’s fondness for spring. He always thought it signified God’s gentle surprises after the long, cold winter. The idea of growth and anticipation, the miracle of watching a seedling sprout, and the freshness of the air after a spring rain. And always, the recollection of his life on the farm as a youngster. Since his own mother died when my grandfather was thirteen, and he went out on his own that same year, I think my grandfather really sought God in the everyday events of his life. And those events, especially the cycle of nature, provided a stable, predictable pattern that reinforced God’s presence in his life.
I’m sure that by now, you have already figured out the the verse I have in mind for tonight is from Ecclesiastes 3:1, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” And the following verses, 3:2-8, talk about a time to live, a time to die, a time to sow, a time to reap, a time to weep, a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance. Indeed, God has planned the rhythm of our lives with a time for everything.
So as I look forward to another season of growing, I wonder what God has in store for me. I know that He has it planned out and that whatever it is, I will be challenged to take my relationship with God to another level. My encouragement tonight is that you look for God in the nature around you. And remember that He has a plan for your growth as well. My prayer is that as we embark on this annual adventure, you will see the evidences of God in the everyday events of your life – and that you will be open to His leading in your life. After all, only God knows what season He has in store for you. Happy spring!