I love Autumn…it is NOT my favorite season (which is reserved for SPRING) but still I love Autumn. Now most of us refer to it as FALL…which I suppose is due to the leaves dropping from the trees and far more easy to spell. So often when I think of fall, I think of how we are going from lively Summer into a dying season. Fall is the season of transition into the deadness of Winter. Usually talking “weather” with someone on the elevator (for lack of better topic) I usually joke “getting chillier, how soon until Spring?” I admit, it is a beautiful season…love the trees…seeing kids play in the piles raked on lawns (not mine, I prefer the lazy au naturale’ unraked look). BUT some things are NOT as enjoyed, like getting colder…the cold dampness of a rainy fall day…the waking in the dark and leaving work when it’s getting dark… (LOVE the daylight-saving day…extra hour of sleep but it’s only for a day). So being realistic…those appreciated things never seem to outweigh the negative reputation that Fall has…it’s a dying season.
So many times, when we think of a “spiritual Fall” we think of falling out of favor of or calling from God. Often it is marked by rebellion and disobedience. It is a shameful time or an embarrassing time…sometimes a spiral out of control into a season of spiritual death…often marked as a spiritual Winter. OH, I’ve had my seasons and I have been through such a season in my life. BUT I can’t help but think as much as we see no good purpose in a transitional season like Fall into Winter, I have to also realize something from another point of view. God says there is a time and purpose to every season under Heaven. There is a REASON for the SEASON (and I am not referring to the Christmas saying). And does it need to be negative? Does it need to just be a fall from grace? Can it be something positive? A fall INTO grace?
I think I am going through such a season right now…and I am not in any situation that would be considered a fall from grace or any such problem. I am simply in transition…let’s think about our weather seasons.
Summer, okay, we got that covered, the time of our lives…fun…easy going… (talking vaguely) and then we move into Fall…typically we might think “ugh…” but really, it is a time to slow down, to ease up on overspending ourselves. It is also a time where the leaves fall off the tree…ridding the tree of leaves that have had their season in the sun. (okay anyone from the 70’s… all sing “We had joy we had fun we had seasons in the sun…”). Leaves fall naturally as if God is pruning the dead things off the trees Himself. Nature is getting ready for its Winter sleep. Basically, slowing down to rest, to reflect before a nice nap of Winter. Then nature can awake renewed and rejuvenated in the Spring.
In our spiritual Fall into grace, we have had active seasons of spiritual service and now it is time to slow down, pace ourselves from vigorous serving to reflect on where we are and where we need to be. And just as leaves naturally fall off trees this could be a time of God naturally letting things in our lives fall aside for the time being, service that has had its time now completed. It doesn’t mean God is done but just a natural pruning that God initiates. Maybe there are things God wants to remove from us. Not necessarily things WE prune that are harmful, but things God allows drop, for our own good and His further intentions. We step into His rest…not death…but a gentle rest for the Winter in our spiritual walk. Think of it as when we are through our physical day we have completed what God has set out for us to do, to complete for Him…we need to rest so that when we wake the next day we are not burned out from overtaxing ourselves physically. A good night’s sleep is not a death…it is not the end BUT a preparation for a new beginning, a new day dawning soon. THAT is the purpose of a SPIRITUAL Fall and Winter of Grace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-14, 22
1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
9 What does the worker gain from his toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on men. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. 13 That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him.
22 So I saw that there is nothing better for a man than to enjoy his work, because that is his lot. For who can bring him to see what will happen after him?
I am not sure where you are in your spiritual seasons, if you are fallen from grace or into grace, BUT it may be a good time to sit back and reflect on it. I encourage you to take the time to do just that.
One of my favorite quotes says:
“Often our agenda is not HIS agenda. Our perspective is quite different from God’s perspective. Our desires are often at odds with His desires. Some of the best things in my life didn’t come about because of my careful planning. Instead, in the struggling that has often marked my walk of faith. Insisting on my own wishes has often resulted in spiritual delays and stoppages. By contrast, yielding to His strange yet wonderful ways have consistently ended up in exciting and productive faith adventures.”
David Mains from When the Troops Are Tired
Quite a few years ago I entered random thoughts into my iphone’s “notes” that became a sort of poem of impassioned yearnings…quite introspective. As you read, do not think of it as struggling as much as accepting the things we would prefer not have to go through to become what God wants us to be…there is beauty…from ashes. There is Grace in the Fall that I am prepared to fall into…maybe not so gracefully, stumbling, possibly crawling, but still into His Grace nonetheless.
by S. Hample
If there is beauty in brokenness…a paradox of hope envisioned in
faith of the unseen…help me understand this in my beautiful breakdown
On my knees in ashes…tears mixed with dying embers once
aflame…burning passion squelched…renew with a spark from this
Welcomed change, secret desire…tired of self…weary of this world.
How long will You tarry? How long until You call me home? Help me be
content in this beautiful breakdown.
Take these tears I cry and fill my cup with joy as I drink to You my
Holy Host. Turn my mourning into dancing as I dance upon the grave of
self to the tune of my beautiful breakdown.
Left to self I plundered every attempt You made to make me what You
had in store for me. Self reasoning became my own treasoning until
the beautiful breakdown.
May Your hand of mercy shake the grip this world has on me. Have me
not take advantage of Your grace…so easy for me to do. Have me trust
You in this beautiful breakdown.
Be the shelter in my storm…the revealing ray of light to the shadow
of my doubt. Sweep up the pieces of this broken vessel from this
Sigh of sorrow for loss of direction…Bread of Life leave a path of
crumbs back home. Be the Holy Light at the end of my tunnel vision
during my beautiful breakdown.
What better way to go? If it has to happen, this is the way I’d want
it to be. In this lonely silence it comes to me…yet I don’t feel
alone in this beautiful breakdown.
I am never alone in this beautiful breakdown….