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Monday, 7 September 2015

The Beauty of Change

The English drop in temperature
Here in England, we know that Autumn is on the way by sudden drops in temperature, often felt most acutely in the evenings. These temperature drops signal the onset of a long winter ahead with all the inevitable changes in clothing and behaviour the cold will entail.

The beauty of change
And yet how beautiful change is! Each season has a beauty and charm of its own, and God has designed the seasons to give us variety, hungry as we have been created for new things. We would be distraught if our children remained children, we would be disppointed if seeds remained seeds. Change is built into God's design of the world.

The seasons of life
As in nature, so in life. Life is filled with new seasons as age, family, providence and health all lead us into new pastures. How we respond to these changes is crucial. Most of us are naturally reserved and resistant - or even reluctant to change. Change will involve new challenges and we can so easily find ourselves settled in our old (comfortable) ways.

How to embrace change
The way to embrace change - and especially the winters of our lives - is first, to realise how important change and winter is. Vernalisation is a process in plants which enables them to flower in spring only after a prolonged cold spell. Without the cold spell, there can be no flowering. And so often that is the way change works in our lives, before spring must come winter. Many years ago I read a sermon by, I think a Puritan, called "Winter afore Harvest" in which he showed from the Scriptures that before there can be any spiritual harvest in our lives, the cold snap of God's humbling winter must be felt.

So if you are in the winter of spiritual life, take hope; spring and harvest will soon be here!

Secondly, remember that even in the winters of our lives, God is at work in our souls, pruning us, accomplishing his sanctifying work. In this season we often cannot see God at work, but we need to be assured that the good work God has begun he will bring to completion, and so often that is through  cold shivery winters.

Thirdly, remember that God is faithful even when we cannot see his hand at work. We worship a faithful God whose love is steadfast and enduring and whose love does not depend on our feelings, but on his majestic unchangingness. Let is trust in him at all times.

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill
He treasures up His bright designs
And works His sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
And He will make it plain.

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