Spring used to be my favorite time of year. Out in Wash. State on Orcas Island, we got far less rain that Seattle (21 inches annually versus 38), and the crocus start blooming as early as February. Temperatures averaged in the 40’s to 50’s in the spring and even though it was still a damp and windy place, you knew that it was spring — no out-of-season snowstorms crept up on you and bulbs were blooming everywhere.
But then I moved to Minnesota, where spring is just an extension of winter and I’m lucky if my iris bloom by early June. I’ve gotten used to this now — I’ve been in Minnesota since 1994 — and I can’t help but tease my Washington family that sure, they have flowers in February, but when theirs are long gone I still have mine to look forward to.
Given the proclivities of a Minnesota spring, however, I have come around and am ready to publicly admit that autumn is my new favorite season. For one thing, fall in Minnesota is way warmer than springtime. Plus, there are all the gorgeous colors: multi-hued chrysanthemums, magnificent leaves and cheerful orange pumpkins.
My daughters and I have a tradition of going to Ocheda Orchard’s pumpkin patch each year. We spend far more time than one might think necessary, searching for the perfect pumpkins and taking pictures of the girls in the field with vast numbers of golden orbs stretching out all around them. Quintessential fall, that.
After we choose our pumpkins, we search for our favorite gourds. I challenge anyone to not marvel at the artistry of God when they stand in a field of gourds. Their colors — dark green, vibrant orange, white, yellow — and their twisted, cylindrical, rotund, warty shapes (not to mention the stripes and speckles and variegations) are splendid to behold. I think it is gourds that have made me truly love the fall.
I tried drying my gourds many years ago, after Thanksgiving was over. I couldn’t bear to throw away them away. I set them on newspaper in a corner and forgot about them. I rediscovered them weeks later. I was surprised to find that each one of them, no matter what colors they’d worn in their prime, was a creamy yellowish-brown.
I know: I was foolish to think they’d retain their appearance when dried. To think they’d resemble the colorful and festive things they’d been when set aside. But I had hoped. The thing is, their season had passed. Their time in the spotlight was over. They had achieved the purpose for which they were brought to life, and their duty, while brief, was done.
I’ve been pondering Isaiah 55 lately. I love this passage both for its imagery and for its truth. We’ve had a bit of weather this past week: lovely sun, chilly rain, even a bit of snow. And while snow isn’t my favorite thing, it’s good to remember that even it has a purpose and will achieve that purpose because God sent it for a reason. The earth will rest for a few months beneath the snow and then it will awaken, ready to bud and flourish once again.
God’s word, too, will achieve the purpose for which it is sent. God is sovereign, and that means we don’t need to worry about our words for him being perfect. We don’t need to worry about finding the perfect moment to serve him. God is in control of the seasons and he is in control of his word. When we serve him — in word or deed — he will bring our service to fruition in his time.
“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:10,11 NIV
Gretchen O’Donnell is a freelance writer who lives in Worthington with her husband and three children. She has a master’s degree from Bethel Seminary and enjoys writing about the things she sees and applying theological truths to everyday situations. Her column, The Disheveled Theologian, is published weekly. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.