The Life Not My Own

Saturday, January 22, 2011


“To everything there is a season…” We’ve heard it many times.  My life has been so full of many “seasons”, and they are as distinctive as the seasons themselves.  Moving to Arkansas, I have realized that there are different kinds of seasons…they are not all alike.

In Arizona, for instance, we had seasons very different from here.  Summer began in June, usually hot and dry.  Without air conditioning, we would live out our days stretched out under the ceiling fan, or visiting the movie theatre or mall…some place cold inside. :)  Then July would come and so would the monsoons, meaning afternoon thunderstorms almost everyday.  They cooled things off and made everything green and fresh…wildflowers would spring up everywhere.  In August every vacant dirt lot would suddenly be full of my beloved sunflowers.  Yes, summer was a beautiful time to be outdoors.

Then came fall, and the days would begin to get cooler.  The few deciduous trees there were would turn colors and then the leaves would fall.  Around November it would be very dry and very cold…and very windy.  These combined to make skin very scaly and outside events avoided.  Depending on the year, November would sometimes bring the first snowfall, leading into December and winter. 

Winter varied from year to year, but there was always lots of snow, and it was always very cold.  And yet, not so very dismal.  The sun was almost always shining in the bright blue sky, and the pine trees never lost their green.  Winter seemed to last and last, and eventually, I admit, would get old.  March was always windy and the snow started to get dirty…spring never seemed to come.

And yet spring would come at last, usually not until April or May, but come it would.  The snow would start to melt, and everyone would watch for the first sign of blooms…the first green bud, hopeful of what was to come.

Here in Arkansas, however, the seasons are very different.  Summer is hot and muggy, and outside is avoided.  Fall is full of brilliant colors and wonderful weather…perfect for a harvest bonfire.  But then the leaves all fall, and hardly anything is green.  Winter. 

We’ve had some snow, but it disappears pretty quickly, leaving muddy ground.  The trees all look dead.  And the sky is rarely bright and clear…it’s usually just a plain old grey.  I am tempted to feel down…like Eeyore might have felt.  And yet I have learned that there is beauty in this winter too.  Driving through the hills, you look upon an expanse of hills and a beautiful purple haze covers all.  The bare trees suddenly reveal secrets once hidden behind their leaves.  It’s a time to snuggle up under a warm blanket with a hot cup of tea and a good book in hand.  A time to cook and bake and sew, all snug inside alongside those you love.  And those trees that look so dead, I know are only sleeping…waiting, hopeful, for the coming spring. 

Life, too, has different seasons.  Sometimes you come upon one you’ve never known before, and it may seem dismal and depressing.  Yet, this season has its own set of charms.  Yes, you can live with the hope of spring in mind, pining for what is to come.  But if you do, you will miss the beauty that is today…the beauty in the very season you are in. 

Longing for spring doesn't bring it any faster.  In fact, it often makes the time pass slower.  And then, you may find spring finally here, and you realize that spring has its own set of problems.  Here, for instance, spring brings tornadoes…my dreaded nemesis.  I would only find myself longing for the next season.  And the next, and the next.  What a disappointment life would be, if we only lived for tomorrow!  But if you live each day to the fullest, delighting in the simple pleasures given to you right here, right now, then life can only be a thing of beauty.  Don’t waste your life despising the seasons God has put you in!  Instead, delight in the work He has given you.  Cherish those He has put in your life right now.  And never let yourself wake up dreading the day to come.

Those seasons will come that are grey and dreary, when you find yourself hoping for spring.  But know this: there is beauty in the greyest of seasons.  You just have to find it.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Passion 2011

This past weekend I was privileged with the chance to attend Passion 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  For those of you who have never heard of it, it’s an amazing conference for college students who want to impact the world for Christ and worship Him in all that they do…not merely in song.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but let me tell you, I was completely blown away.  All 22,000 seats were full of college students who were genuinely hungry for the Lord and desiring to live set apart lives.  I have seen lots of college students genuinely on fire for Christ, but I have seen more who serve the Lord half-heartedly.  They attend church and college group and worship him with upheld hands, then go out and look exactly like the world.  There is no impact there, and I consider that a sad excuse for a Christian.

1 Timothy 4:12 says, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because of your youth, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, and in faith, and in purity.”  This past weekend I saw young people actually living this verse out.  And it was awesome.

God spoke to me on so many levels at this conference.  To be honest, I don’t know how you could have set in on any of these sessions without being blown away.  Seriously and truly.  Sure, there were some amazing people there: Francis Chan, Beth Moore, Andy Stanley, John Piper, Matt Redman, Charlie Hall, the David Crowder Band, Christy Nockels, Chris Tomlin, Tenth Avenue North, Lecrae…the list could go on and on.  The truth is, however, that God was there.  That’s all that really matters.

I was also very impressed with the group I went with from Flatwoods.  This was a group of people that was so genuine and so hungry for the Lord and for Him to move.  There were no cliches, no one felt left out…we were a family as it should be.  I have been around high school and college-aged students for a long time, but I was extremely impressed by this group.  They exuded Christ in all that they did and said, and I have never seen a better witness for Him.  It was truly amazing and I was so blessed to be a part of such an awesome group of people.

God knows what He is doing.  He has a plan for each and every one of us.  And He desires more than anything for us to live lives wholly focused on Him; genuinely authentic lives in which we are not afraid to be set a part, to be different, or for people not to like us.  What it all comes down to is, if everything else was stripped away…if you lost your family, your home, your life, your friends…if you were persecuted by all around you and tortured for your beliefs…if you were hungry and starving and cold…would Jesus be enough for you? 

Lord, let me not go back home unchanged.  Do a mighty work in me.  Do a mighty work in every student who attended Passion 2011.  Such a generation…such a group of people, truly has the capability, through Christ working in them, to change the world.  Let’s change it.