Autumn

Do you enjoy autumn? I have mixed feelings about the season. I love the amazing colours of autumn leaves, the red and yellow, the orange and brown which spread across hillsides producing beautiful landscapes. I love walking in freshly fallen leaves, kicking them up with my shoes as I stroll along a woodland path. I am not so keen on sweeping and binning them back home however! I enjoy crisp cold mornings with gentle mist and even frost on the ground. I am not so keen on having to de-ice the car! As the nights draw in it is comforting to be able to snuggle up in a warm house, draw the curtains and shut the cold outside.

If spring is the season of new life, then autumn must surely be the season of life’s twilight. Plants especially are in the final throes of their annual life cycle. People and animals are preparing for the sleep of winter when they have to rely on stores of food or even in some cases going into hibernation. Technology and rapid transport mean that we are largely insulated from the hardships of winter that our grandparents knew. Unlike them we can eat ‘seasonal’ food all year round, in season and out of season.

The latter years of our human lives are sometimes compared to the season of autumn. Youthful strength declines and we may have to rely more upon reserves of wisdom built up during our lives. We may have fond memories of a life lived well, shared experiences with family and friends to relish and enjoy. Yet there is also the sadness of friends and family who have passed away. They are all too frequent reminders of our own frail humanity and the certainty of our own death. We may try and insulate ourselves from the inevitable, but ultimately the sands of time run out for each of us.

For followers of Christ this season of life is bittersweet. The aches and pains of aging are indiscriminate and tiresome for us all. However followers of Christ have the hope that there will be a new season of spring as we anticipate a resurrection life with Christ; a life that will be free from all the difficulties of the present.

The Apostle Paul faced more trials in his life than many of us ever will. He was shipwrecked, flogged, spat upon, left for dead and imprisoned. Indeed it was while he was in prison that he wrote ‘for me to live is Christ, to die is gain’. For him following Christ was a win – win option. His life was devoted to spreading the message of Jesus. Every day was a fresh opportunity for him to discover the joy that Christ would bring, irrespective of the difficulties he faced. Soon however would come the day of his death when he would go to be with Christ forever. He was eagerly looking forward to his eternal hope.

That hope is available to everyone, young and old. If you would like to know more, simply ask God to reveal it to you.

This blog post featured in the November 2015 edition of Hook Focus

 

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Indescribable

I wonder which is your favourite season of the year? I have been enjoying the warm sunny days this September as we have enjoyed an extended summer.  However winter is on the way and as I write I can see that the trees are just beginning to lose their green lustre as their leaves turn to yellow, orange and red. There are few sights as splendid as an English hillside covered in russet trees glowing in the fading warmth of the autumn sun.

Whenever I see a sight like this the words of the song “Indescribable,” composed by Chris Tomlin, come to mind which has a line that mentions the ’colours of fall’. The rest of the song attempts to capture other breathtakingly beautiful features of the natural world: massive mountain peaks, vast ocean seas, white glistening snow, distant burning stars, and the diversity of the animal kingdom. The climax of the song comes in the refrain where, having absorbed the magnificent splendour of the universe, we are drawn to worship God as creator. Having struggled to use poetry to express the beauty of creation, how much more difficult it is to accurately convey the majesty of God – hence the line ‘indescribable, uncontainable’.

In the book of Job we read how this powerful and wealthy man systematically loses everything, his children, his flocks, even his health until he is left destitute and alone. Even his friends prove fickle as they accuse him of sinning against God. Naturally Job wants answers, and he wants vindication and he cries out to God in his anguish.

God’s answer? To ask Job where he was when the world was being made.

In his response, God catalogues the wonders of creation. Gradually Job begins to comprehend the awesome, indescribable majesty of creator God and his own insignificance. Job recognises the futility of seeking explanation and instead responds in worship.

Living in the 21st century we know more about the mystery of the universe, and the natural world than at any earlier time in history. Yet if anything the wonders of creation seem more magnificent than ever. When you next look out and see breathtaking beauty in the natural world, allow yourself to gasp in wonder at the indescribable, uncontainable, awesome creator God who made it.

This blog post featured in the October 2014 edition of Hook Focus