The Bible says, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.” (NKJV, Ecclesiastes 3:1)
And so it is, there are “Seasons” and “Times” that serve as the outline for The Incredible Journey Called Life.
Consider with me, the types and shadows of the times and seasons of life, as we explore the geography of the journey!
At a Special Prayer Meeting (2-12-10) during our 40 days of Fasting and Prayer, I was caught away in the musing of my spirit.
As the clock approached 11:00pm, the Praise Team was singing their concluding songs.
Suddenly, I envisioned myself taking a journey, a journey in my mind’s eye, over the topical, geographical landscape of life.
Afterwards, a memory from my past joined this mental transition, as I recalled the movie: The Incredible Journey.
With human interest and intrigue, it tells the story of three pets, a Golden Retriver named Shadow, a Himalayan cat named Sassy, and an American Bulldog named Chance; who are stranded two hundred miles from home.
Thus evolves the persistent and ofttimes dangerous trek across the vast Canadian wilderness, in search of, and to reunite with, the family they had lost.
The storyline follows the adventure over challenging geography, punctuated by imminent dangers, enduring difficult odds, spanning time and distance, and embracing the instinct and determination to “find the way back home”.
As it is, in the amazing, awe-inspiring, and oftentimes challenging, “Natural” geography of our world, so it is with the striking parallels of “Our Remarkable Journey Called Life”!
May we consciously focus our heart to listen and learn!
Meanwhile, back at the Prayer Meeting, in the rich atmosphere of prayer and worship, my senses were summoned to the Majestic top of a mountain. (Oftentimes “we think” that’s where we want to not only aspire to arrive at, but to ‘live there permanently’!)
For it is here that: “the air seems pure and fresh, the sun shines more brilliantly than we’ve ever experienced before, the view is extravagant, the clouds are ‘beneath our feet’. The somber stillness elicits deep contemplation. The soul basks in intense revelation. Here is utopia where we want to, we long to, “live”!
But alas, as life so compels us, we must leave behind the grandeur of the scenic and inspiring mountaintop with all of it’s splendor and descend to the uncertainty of the valley below.
Here the ‘fog’ rolling in clouds our perspective, ‘shadows’ arrive sooner, the Sun sets quicker, we are confronted by rivers to cross, rapids to maneuver, the night sounds are terrifying reminders of the giants of fear we all too often grapple with, the Thunder explodes with crescendo, shaking the ground around us, the Lightening dances across the midnight canopy with eerie exploitations of awe and frightening demonstrations. We know this is where ‘life’ grows but the process seems daunting and we wish for the dawning of a better day!
No sooner have we desperately struggled to adjust to these new and oftentimes foreboding circumstances, when suddenly we are quietly summoned to leave the valley, to cross into another unknown geographical “life adventure”!
As we step out of the shadows, our eyes can barely adjust to the ‘blazing sun’ on the barren landscape stretching out in front of us as far as the eye can see. Here, life forms are rare, “bleak, blasted, hot, sun-drenched, arid”, are words used to describe this scene of an almost ‘other world’ topography. Pools of water beckoning our thirsty soul, alas deceive us, they’re only mirages. The hot, scorching sun drains our strength, hope is a faded past memory, it begs the question: “can we, will we, survive?”
Ironically, again the scene changes, we want to ‘pinch’ ourselves to see if this is only a dream, or could it possibly be a reality? Now we stand in a ‘lush green meadow’. Hope rises up from the ashes of our previous despair, streams and pools of ‘refreshing’ appear, the forests around us surrenders the voice of song as the birds wing their way overhead. ‘Life’ is Everywhere! ‘Renewal’ and ‘Peace’ flood our weary soul. The whispering breeze of serenity kisses our countenance, the ominous, dark clouds are in retreat, the multifaceted colors of a Rainbow draped over the storm cloud’s shoulders reminds us of God’s Promise, Hallelujah! The Storm has passed, the Thunder is quieted, the Lightning is no more. In the wake of the passing “Storm of Life,” the wild flowers fill the meadows with a cacophony of color, the streams are fuller, the Sun is brilliant, “LIFE IS GOOD AGAIN!”
Our peace and serenity is only temporary, as a fourth Season draws aside its curtain and calls us on stage. It is reminiscent of my growing up days in Wisconsin. Winter was given. Preparation a must! Soon the multi-colored hues of Fall will be challenged by the blast of Winter’s breath. The cold, the wind, and the freeze will win this contest. The glimmering shade of orange, red, and yellow leaves are stripped from their branches and lie fallen on the frozen ground. The nights are longer and colder now, the days are shorter, much shorter, the briskness of coming winter is felt in the chill of every early morning. The clouding skies are indicators of a season about to be embraced by the first snow fall. The skies are resounding with the flocks of geese in “v” formation leaving their refuge and heading South. Indications are witnessed everywhere, human effort in preparation for the long Winter’s embrace. Homes and cars are “”winterized” in readiness for the freeze and snow that will hide the landscape in a breathless “winter wonderland”! The children “cheer on” the chance to sled, build snowmen, and frolic in the fresh fallen snow. Hunters are mesmerized with the ability to “track” their game. Life goes on in spite of falling temperatures and limited outdoor activities. The days give in to weeks and months of unrelenting cold, snow, ice, and wind. In spite of the seemingly endless bleak forecast, a transcendence peace fills the room with the glow of flickering flames and the crackling of wood in the fireplace. The warmth and ambience soothe the “bite” of these long, dark nights!
Before we leave this epoch journey of “times and seasons”, take just a moment to walk with me down memory lane. Peek in on a personal snapshot review held in the timeless challenge of a Winter’s drama. Newly wed and assuming the Pastorate of a fledgling Church in the North Woods of Hawkins, Wisconsin, the year was 1963. Snow piled along the roadsides, deep enough to hide a stranded car. The cutting blast of Winter’s raw edge, unparalleled in recent history, sends a sensation of caution to the soul.
The unforgettable experience of watching the thermometer plunge to a minus 48 degrees, followed by a full week of minus 35 degrees; forever leaving its lasting impression! Winter at its harshest refrain births a longing for “this Season to end”!
At long last, the first signs of Spring! The anticipation of a new season; while we robustly applaud the retreat of Winter. New life is birthed across the landscape, the forests’ naked branches come alive with hues of green, the cherry blossoms fill the senses with color and sweet aroma, multi-colored flowers adorn the terra-firma, the warmth of the Sun chases the memories of Winter’s hardships into a soon forgotten past. Hope and Life are hallmarks of this new season!
And so the Seasons come and they go, no Storm lasts forever and no Season is unending, “This too shall pass”!
Perseverance and determination will conquer the ineffable seasons of our Journey, and we will find our way Home. Home is where the Heart is, where God is!
And so it remains: “The Incredible Journey of Life” goes on!
There is a Time and a Season to everything.