From my office I have a beautiful view. It won’t stay this way but for now I get to enjoy what looks like endless forest surrounding my country retreat. As the season ends, so does my view. Behind the soon to be leafless trees is an ugly brick wall, a parking lot and an illuminated drive through menu sign for a fast food restaurant.
I look out my window and suspend the reality of what is behind the trees.
It does me no good to go through life living as though every day will be perfect. At the same time it does me no good going through life as if every perfect day is just a diversion from the reality of my imperfect life. I have lived my life with many perfect days followed by less than perfect weeks. This is reality.
I know that the lush green leaves of spring and summer will give way to the beautiful colours of fall. I also know that this will be followed by the stark reminder that what appears to be a country getaway is actually a subdivision with neighbours only feet away on each side and a parking lot and stores behind. Still, I can enjoy it for now.
My reality is not defined by the negative but it is a part of my reality.
I am not a silver lining type of guy. To view everything that happens as allowed/influenced by God is biblical but to spend my time searching for the God moments as if my small mind can comprehend the intricacies of God’s perfect plan is no more than a diversion from the reality of what is happening.
More leaves have fallen since I started writing. The two and a half storey brick wall has begun to dominate my view.
I know that the leaves have provided a barrier between me and what is behind my house. I can predict based on past experience that the leaves will return and provide that same barrier next spring and summer. This is the reality of a four season climate. The past tells me I have experienced a beautiful view. The future suggests the same will happen. The present tells me that my view will include an ugly brick wall, a parking lot and an illuminated drive through menu sign for the next few months which leads me to the following suggestion.
Instead of searching for God in each season of life, invite Him along.
Before anyone misunderstands me, let me make it clear, I am a big believer in reflecting on the past. I believe that by looking back we often discover that God was at work in way that cannot be seen during that season. That doesn’t change the fact that spending time looking for the light at the end of the tunnel or the silver lining in every cloud while trying to live through the storm, creates hopes out of conjecture and a Godly reason for our situation out of our best guess.
We have all heard of people who die of what appears to be curable cancer while others live after being diagnosed as terminal. It is logical to assume one gave very little thought to a silver lining while the other looked for it as hope in the middle of hopelessness. The energy that is spent trying to make sense out of our circumstances would be better put to use seeking God’s direction as we face our reality.
God’s promises are never broken but His way of keeping it isn’t always revealed.
If I look back I can see that God has been working even when I thought differently. There is both reassurance and danger in recognizing God’s hand in the things of the past. Past behaviour is a great predictor of the future behaviour but it is not a guarantee that God will always act the same way. We would be better to face reality knowing God is with us than trying to figure out what He is doing.
God has been and always will be holy and perfect meaning His behaviour is predictable. God will always act in a holy and perfect way. God has been and always will be holy and perfect, that means the actions He takes will rarely be predictable. In His perfection and holiness God will choose the action that addresses all aspects of each situation. We, on the other hand, lack perfection and holiness and therefore the ability to easily recognise God’s actions although we often try.
In this life we may never know what God is doing but we can be sure He is working in all things.
Most likely the trees will bud and leaves will grow next year but there is no guarantee. Whether they come back or they are wiped out by disease does not change the reality of this season; there will be an ugly brick wall, a parking lot and an illuminated drive through menu sign for the next few months. This is a small reality which is a part of a bigger reality, my life. I can only face my realities in faith based not on what I think I understand but on this promise,
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 (NIV)
In this season, in every season God is at work. We don’t need to make sense of it, and in this life we many never do so. Still, we can face reality, the unknown, knowing that God is at work.