The seasons change, but the Lord remains the same.
Seasons of the year.
Seasons of life.
Seasons of friendship.
Seasons change, circumstances change, but God remains.
I’ve been thinking of this lately because I have been processing the reality that I am enjoying a season of relative ease, especially in regard to parenting. I love it, but almost feel afraid to enjoy it. Often I wonder when and how it will change, not enjoying and appreciating it, but living in dread for the future. In an attempt to fight the fear I instead thank God for this season and praise Him for His goodness and generosity. Then I am not nearly as afraid of the change because I know He will be good and generous in the next season as well.
This has been a theme in my journaling lately and when I read Psalm 23 recently, I was struck by the fact that these descriptions of different circumstances could represent different seasons of life.
Psalm 23 (ESV)
The Lord Is My Shepherd
A Psalm of David.
1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
The first and the last verse I see as bookends, as constants of who God is no matter where I am.
Verses 2 and 3 look like a season of peace and ease. There is visible calm; it’s easy to feel and see God. It’s a time of rest where my soul is restored. That’s where I feel like I am now. Parenting feels the least overwhelming it’s ever felt. My kids feel predictable or at least more predictable than they’ve been. When there are melt downs we are recovering quicker. These are green pastures and still waters and I am in no rush to change this!
Then comes the Valley of the Shadow of Death. That sounds terrifying. It feels scary. God says He’s there. He’s still a shepherd leading and guiding but it’s hard to see Him and it’s hard to feel Him. As I draw near to God all I feel is a rod and a staff- both hard things. There’s nothing comforting about that to me. Yet I’ve lived through the valley of the shadow of death – when Evan was born and the doctors didn’t know what was wrong that first week in the NICU, they couldn’t tell us anything. They just said they would stabilize him and we would wait to see if he could recover from the trauma of birth and the loss of blood. It wasn’t easy, but we survived and we grew in faith by the grace and mercy of God. His presence was with us and it was comforting. And I know the next time we walk that season it will be hard. But I will have to bank on God being there even when it’s hard to see and feel Him.
Verse 5 looks like a season of discomfort. We are sitting at a table, the provision is obvious, but we are there with our enemies. It isn’t easy; it’s awkward and uncomfortable. But God is with us and we can feel His presence just like oil on our heads. His Spirit fills us. We are secure even in fear and discomfort.
We are promised His presence even when we don’t feel it. We declare out loud that “surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house the Lord forever.” Because that is where our good Shepherd leads us. Into the place He’s prepared for us.
As I’ve been navigating the idea of seasons and change, God continues to meet me at every turn.
How sweet and gracious of God, because this week the fear of the next season started to creep in again.
We met our adoption social worker on Tuesday for the first interview of our Home Study. We have prayed about adopting for years and are getting closer and closer every day. We have heard horror stories and we have heard miraculous stories and the optimistic realist in me is preparing for something in between. But before long, the “hope for the best prepare for the worst” part of me started to think of the worst case scenarios. Quickly God reminded me that no matter the season He will definitely be with us. So as we went to bed Tuesday, we prayed and we surrendered our family, our plans, our comfort and our expectations back at the feet of Jesus. How sweet it was to be greeted in the morning with the truth of Ecclesiastes 3, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven,” and that “He has made everything beautiful in its time (v1,11a).”
So I will rest, once again, knowing that He is in control of the seasons. Because He doesn’t change I can declare again, SURELY GOODNESS AND MERCY WILL FOLLOW ME ALL THE DAYS OF MY LIFE, AND I WILL DWELL IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD FOREVER!