It Won’t Always Be This Way
Do you know why cars have two headlights? It’s pretty simple: because horse-drawn carriages had two lanterns. As gas-powered vehicles began to replace horse-powered vehicles, many of the features of the older design crept into the new one. Of course, you could just place a single light in the front of the vehicle. Or now, it’d be easy to place a solid bar of light on the front of a vehicle. But if we were to do this, where would the horse go?  It’s no secret that human beings are not so great at adapting to change. I wonder how long we’ll continue to “dial” our phones before we all realize we haven’t dialed anything in a very long time. Our resistance to change is unfortunate, because change is all around us all the time. And our resistance to change can cause a lot of grief.
This isn’t to say all change is good. But neither is all change bad. Change just is. It happens. “Good” and “bad” don’t seem like large enough categories to contain it. Things change. It seems what little control we have over such things is simply how open and receptive we are to the changes that come our way. To “seize the moment” without gripping it so tightly we forget to let it go when that moment has passed.
I was facing a difficulty in my ministry recently that had me all worked up. It was affecting my sleep. My stomach was up in knots. I found it consuming my prayers. My life was filled with worry.
I called my dad, who’s been in ministry all of his adult life. I explained what was going on, sure he would join me in my righteous indignation. I suppose I was expecting him to tell me, “You are absolutely right to be so concerned! You are very smart and perceptive to allow this concern to consume your life right now! This is very worrisome!”
Instead he listened very sympathetically and told me, “You know, one thing I’ve learned doing ministry this long: It won’t always be this way. Are things going terribly? It won’t always be this way. Are things going great? It won’t always be this way. I guess what I’d tell you is to remember is this: It won’t always be this way.”
How’s that for some sage wisdom? Guess what? He was absolutely right. Months later and things have changed again. The thing keeping me up at night usually doesn’t even register on my stress-o-meter these days (although the difficulty hasn’t really been resolved—so things may change again!)
My friend Kenny also often gives me very good advice. He’s also something of a Christian mystic—although I doubt he’d use that word. Kenny’s a man of prayer who lives from a deep and faithful center. This usually means Kenny doesn’t get worked up about much of whatever is bothering everyone else. It also means he tends to see things from a different vantage point than many others.
As a bit of an aside: Kenny and I belong to the same church. He also runs a lawn care company. In fact, he takes care of my wife’s and my lawn. The fact that the guy who cuts my grass is one of the people in my life who gives me the wisest council reminds me that I’m living in the kingdom of God. It also reminds me that the Spirit gives gifts however the Spirit sees fit, which means I probably shouldn’t get a big head about being “the Preacher.”
Lately Kenny’s been talking to me about seasons. As a lawn care professional, he lives a lot closer to the land than I do—even if a lot of his business is suburban landscaping. There’s spring, summer, fall, winter. The seasons come and the seasons go. There’s a time for everything.
Kenny tells me this is what the spiritual life is like as well. Enjoy the season that you’re in—whatever that may be—because eventually it will change. Things grow in season. Things die in another season. It all ebbs and flows. There’s no real virtue in getting worked up about most of it. There’s a season for hard work. There’s a season for resting. There’s a season when, even if you’d like to work, the ground won’t cooperate with you.
Of course, this is all there in Ecclesiastes. We might say it’s also all there in the soil and the seed and the weather and to anyone who is paying attention to the way things really work. Still, I can buy an orange at the grocery store any month of the year. So perhaps we should forgive ourselves if we sometimes forget the seasonal nature of our lives.
What’s bugging you today? Anything worrying you? Do you find yourself feeling “out of season”? Maybe you’re working so hard and the soil just won’t cooperate with you and the plant won’t grow fast enough for you?
Here’s a frustrating piece of wisdom for you: It won’t always be this way. Relax. Embrace this moment as a Sacred gift. And, when the time is right, get back to work.