Fall in love with autumn

Autumn (or Fall to my American readers) is hands down my favourite season. There is nothing better than walking in the last of the summer sunshine breathing in the sweet smell of chestnut trees, my eyes feasting on the vibrant russets and golds all around me while savouring the crunch of fallen leaves beneath my feet. Creation sings and begs the world to gaze upon it’s beauty and, for me, there is simply no other season that compares.

While enjoying one of many walks through our local park recently, I couldn’t help but think how terribly sad it was that such beauty was temporary; that these exquisite trees who proudly displayed their autumnal décolletage were about to lose the very leaves that gave them this beauty. Furthermore, this beauty was at its most splendid right before it was lost.

When something is beautiful, attractive or successful we don’t like to let it go.

I have found that almost every autumn I have been faced with a difficult decision or experienced a turbulent time as a result of a change in attitudes of those around me, the environments that I am in or the circumstances that present to me. From redundancies to cancer scares and two house moves, the past autumn seasons have brought me to somewhat painful periods where I have fallen from the heady heights of a blissful summer holiday and hit the ground of reality with an unceremonious thud. As the beauty of health, home stability or financial security that defined me fell from my fingers I had two options – panic and scrabble around amongst the fallen leaves of my life, or embrace the new season and allow my heart and soul to rest and heal in the winter.

Because after winter comes spring.

The circle of life is perpetual, and as winter follows autumn, so spring will follow winter, and with it the promise of regeneration and new life.

Don’t be frightened of letting go of this season’s leaves. You are not defined by your job, the success of your latest deal, or the pay packet in your purse. You are not defined by the friends that support you or your marital status. You are not defined by your current health situation.

People will come and go in your life, health will improve and decline, love will ebb and flow, finances will increase and decrease and the only way to navigate the changes in life is to know when to let go of people, possessions and positions.

The Message Bible puts it this way;

There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth:

2-8 A right time for birth and another for death,
A right time to plant and another to reap,
A right time to kill and another to heal,
A right time to destroy and another to construct,
A right time to cry and another to laugh,
A right time to lament and another to cheer,
A right time to make love and another to abstain,
A right time to embrace and another to part,
A right time to search and another to count your losses,
A right time to hold on and another to let go,
A right time to rip out and another to mend,
A right time to shut up and another to speak up,
A right time to love and another to hate,
A right time to wage war and another to make peace.

9-13 But in the end, does it really make a difference what anyone does? I’ve had a good look at what God has given us to do—busywork, mostly. True, God made everything beautiful in itself and in its time—but he’s left us in the dark, so we can never know what God is up to, whether he’s coming or going. I’ve decided that there’s nothing better to do than go ahead and have a good time and get the most we can out of life. That’s it—eat, drink, and make the most of your job. It’s God’s gift.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-13

There is a time for everything, there is a time to gain and a time to lose, there are some friends that you have for a season and some you have for a lifetime. There are some positions and promotions that you must accept and many more that you must turn down, there are many doors that you could open but more still that you need to firmly close. My friend, if you are in a season of change, don’t panic. Embrace the pruning and the shedding, the dying away of the old and look forward to the new life that will spring forth in due course.



In the potters hands

I must confess I have some slight OCD tendencies. (Ok, I have a lot of OCD tendencies!) 

These little idiosyncrasies such as colour coding my wardrobe and arranging my shoes appear to have been passed on to my eldest son who takes great delight in lining up his cars in order of colour and size. There is one box in the playroom however that causes my inner Monica to recoil whenever it is pulled out to play with, and that is the playdoh box.
 playdoh tubs 
We have several pots of beautiful brightly coloured playdoh with which we have such fun creating models, people and more often than not some form of edible treats to ‘bake’ in the oven. However when my back is turned (usually retrieving said items from the actual oven before starting dinner), I find that the gorgeous coloured balls have been marvellously mashed up my by master crafter. 

 playdoh  image 
For any fellow OCD people out there, you can understand my horror at the contents of my wonderfully organised, pristine playdoh pots being unceremoniously mixed to create a far less appealing greenish brown lump.

You see, like the playdoh, I like my life organised. I have a box for my marriage, a box for my children, a box for friends, a box for ministry, a box for my career and, God forgive me, at times a box for God. I like to pack one box away before I get another one out, and I like to keep my boxes neat and tidy. It would never do to have a messy, untidy box or to spill the contents out. And if I was unfortunate enough to get my playdoh colours all melded together I would never be able to separate them fully again which in my eyes would render them useless.

As I looked at the ‘ruined’ lump of playdoh in my hands, God whispered into my heart “you see a mess of colours, I see malleable clay that is ready to mould”.

You see, God knows that we all fall short of the mark, that we all make a mess of the boxes of life, sometimes through bad choices and oftentimes through circumstances beyond our control. When we mess up the chances are we can never fully restore our lives or circumstances to exactly what they once were, our life colours will always be changed, altered somehow. But God doesn’t look at our mixed up colours and render us useless. He sees situations to serve through, experiences to encourage and testimonies that will teach others. God sees a lump of clay that has already been handled by the world, so much so that it is now soft and malleable, and the God colours of our lives are ready to be shaped by the Potter’s hands. 

And yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay and you are the potter. We are all formed by your hand. Isaiah 64:8

Can I my do to you as is potter has done to his clay? As the clay is in the potters hand, so are you in my hand.” Jeremiah 18:6

Do you feel like you have messed up? You are in good company. Jacob was a deceiver, Martha was distracted, Mary Magdalene was demon possessed, Peter denied Jesus, Thomas was a doubter, yet God used these individuals in the Bible to define history and to further his Kingdom. 

Friend, I want to urge you today that no matter how colourful your past or how much you have mixed up your once pristine playdoh tubs of life, God can and will use you. And the most amazing part of it all is that he wants to! You just have to place your life in his hands and trust that he can shape you into the man or woman of God you were created to be.