The seasons remind us that life is a series of adjustments. The leaves that were so vibrantly green in the spring have now turned gold or red before dropping to the ground. They expose the stark branches that were beautifully hidden. Now, even seeing the tree requires an adjustment. Our appreciation for it may diminish until signs of life return.
I’m wondering if this season of learning to live in a pandemic isn’t kind of like that naked tree on the horizon. It has great promise, but right now it isn’t living into it’s glorious potential! I think a lot of the things we are doing now (such as wearing masks, not gathering in crowds, washing our hands so frequently) can leave us feeling like winter’s trees. Some of the joy and beauty of life has diminished a bit.
As we unwillingly accept the cooler winds and bleaker days of Winter, we need to visualze a few signposts from our times.
It will not always be this way. The trees may begin to look empty, without purpose, harsh against the Winter sky. But in time tiny green buds will cover the branches, signaling the coming Spring. Jesus promised, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true” (Revelation 21:5).
Keep your mind sharp. It’s tempting to sink into despair. The adjustments we are making now are massively invasive to our lifestyle. This is not a time to just fall apart. Keep your thinking focused on the things that do not change, the truths from Scripture that prop up our spirits and help us not to lag behind. Paul wrote that we are to … be transformed by the renewal of your mind…(Romans 12:1). When discouragement sets in, we need to refocus on Scripture, positive and true things, and engaging with others who are trying to remain sharp.
We don’t have to know what’s next. There might be something comforting about knowing what’s going to happen next. I don’t like surprises! But the truth is that no one knows how this pandemic will end. Or maybe you’re having your own pandemic in your personal life with grief or disease or betrayal, or whatever. When the vision going forward is nothing but cloudy, remember that you don’t have to know what is next. Apostle Paul affirmed,”… for we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Jesus walks ahead of us, and that will have to be sufficient.
Whatever adjustments you’re having to make, whether it is day by day, or moment by moment, don’t let it take your faith. However sparse and lifeless the Winter tree appears, when the time is right, newness comes. Out here hope remains.
“It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.”― Robert Louis Stevenson