“There is a season for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, NIV).((In 1965 The Byrds recorded a Pete Seeger song, “Turn, Turn, Turn” based on the passage from Ecclesiastes. Maybe it’s time to look it up on YouTube.))
The cycles of life have often been referred to as seasons. Spring can represent birth and childhood. Summer can represent the transition from adolescence to adulthood. Fall is the older, mature years, and Winter refers to the declining years leading to death. There’s some merit to that analogy, to be sure.
I believe there are also seasons within the seasons … times in your life when someone is a part of your life for a specific period of time. We all have childhood friends that we never see anymore, yet we were “best friends forever” when we were growing up. No one deliberately intends for the “best friends forever” relationship to change, but it does.
Bob was a childhood friend like that for me. We were best buds. We went to the same church. We played together. We climbed trees and talked about stuff. I had a walk-in closet in my bedroom and we made that our clubhouse. Kid stuff, but we were best friends. That relationship ended when Bob’s family moved away. I only remember seeing him once after that – so many years ago. I heard that he had experienced a troubled life and passed away about ten years ago, ravaged by abuses and neglect. I was sad, but not overly so. The loss of the relationship happened so many years before. This was more of a “sad for his family” feeling than one of personal loss.
The intent was to stay in touch. The intent was to truly be “best friends forever” – forever.
The reality is that seasons end.
A season with one person may last a lot longer than a season with another. We grieve, at first; but our assurance is that when one season ends a new season begins. It’s change. It’s part of the seasonal cycle of life.
In my work, I see “seasonal changes” yearly. A cherished friend, respected colleague, or beloved student moves away. No matter how we say things won’t change, they will. The seasonal change is a reality. Where once the “leaves” of the relationship were alive and vibrant, they start to change as the nutrients needed to keep them alive diminish with time and distance and, perhaps, neglect.
This sounds terribly sad; I really don’t mean it to be. Seasonal change is part of life. “There is a season for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” I’m a better person for having gone through these seasons with my family, friends, and students. I will be a better person for the next season because of the growth I experienced in the past and the influences of my present.
Whether we recognize it or not, we change (for the good, I pray) because of the influence and impact of those seasonal relationships.
So, though we may suffer the loss of a season in our lives and we may grieve for that loss, we know the transition will bring the blessings of the next season. Just as God has orchestrated creation’s seasonal cycles, that orchestrating applies to our personal lives as well. Spring brings Summer. Summer brings Fall. Fall brings Winter. And then … then, the cycle starts all over again with a new Spring … a new beginning … a new birth.
As children of faith, the seasonal cycles of life take on a very different dimension. The present is not our goal. Our goal is to transition through the seasonal cycles of life to the reward of eternal joy in the presence of our Redeemer. For us, the Winter of our lives is fleeting and leads to the ultimate “Spring” of our purpose in life. “Therefore we do not become discouraged (utterly spiritless, exhausted, and wearied out through fear). Though our outer man is [progressively] decaying and wasting away, yet our inner self is being [progressively] renewed day by day. For our light, momentary affliction (this slight distress of the passing hour) is ever more and more abundantly preparing and producing and achieving for us an everlasting weight of glory [beyond all measure, excessively surpassing all comparisons and all calculations, a vast and transcendent glory and blessedness never to cease!], Since we consider and look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are visible are temporal (brief and fleeting), but the things that are invisible are deathless and everlasting” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18, AMP).
“…forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, [we] press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13b-14, ESV). That is our ultimate Spring in the completion of our seasonal cycle of life … to stand before our God, confident that “[we] have fought the good fight, [we] have finished the race, [we] have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:6b, ESV) and God Almighty will welcome us into the never-ending Spring of our seasonal cycle of life.