Punxsutawney Phil and Seasons of Life

Just one week ago the world watched in eager anticipation. Predictions were made, bets wagered, crowds gathered, and the media readied itself to catch the moment. All eyes focused on a little brown object. Little else mattered.

Punxsutawney Phil by ShutterSparks

Finally the hero emerged, seemingly unphased by the hype. And within minutes, the long-anticipated event was over.

An early spring is on its way – thanks to the ever-reliable predictions of Punxsutawney Phil. Groundhog Day, the event of the weekend, (was there anything else last weekend??!!) has come and gone, and many are heralding the results, eagerly looking for signs to corroborate Phil’s conclusions.

What is it about season changes that we long for? Sure the new growth and fresh start of spring excites us after a long winter. But so too do the crack of the baseball bat and hot summer nights, or the crispness of fall mornings and changing leaves, or the first winter snow and coziness of a warm fire. It is as if the very change of seasons – something utterly out of our control – speaks to something within us, something that recognizes a greater truth, a greater power, a greater One.

Amos, a prophet in the Old Testament reflected on that One writing, “He who made the Pleiades and Orion, and turns deep darkness into the morning and darkens the day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out on the surface of the earth, the Lord is his name.” (Amos 5:8) There is something comforting in recognizing that while we like to be kings of our castle, an even greater King reigns in perfect peace and mercy.

But unlike human kings who fail to meet our expectations, disappoint with their faulty leadership, or terrorize with zealous power, the King of Kings opposes oppressive and unjust systems and rather than demanding impossible payments of allegiance, offers incomprehensible love and forgiveness. Grace and righteousness are ours in exchange for nothing more than a simple, childlike response of “Thank you, I believe.” Hosea encourages us, “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.” (Hosea 10:12)

Crocus in Snow by oscheneWith spring approaching here in eastern Montana, what season are you experiencing personally? While we desire endless carefree days of peace, joy and prosperity, the reality is those days are but one season. More challenging seasons – seasons filled with heartache, strife, frustration and sickness – are part of every person’s reality. And while those seasons are less desirable, they also tend to be times when God’s presence draws extra near as he encourages, uplifts and sustains.

In whatever season you find yourself, take heart. The God who watches over the seasons also watches over you. Look, as the Psalmist did, at the heavens and the earth, at the work of his fingers, and recognize his majesty. You are not alone in your triumphs or your trials. God has not deserted you in your celebration or your calamity. God will not forsake you in your peace or your pain. In every changing season one thing remains the same – the ever-present, ever-seeking love of God.

As you consider the truths of changing seasons, and eagerly anticipate Punxsutawney Phil’s early spring, hear anew the words of Ecclesiastes. Words that speak truth about each of our lives. And be encouraged that not only is there a time for everything, but there is a God for every time.

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8