There was a time . . . in my much younger years . . . I hated fall and winter. My reasoning? Who wants to enjoy or be around everything dying?! But . . . as I’ve matured (cough-cough) . . . aged . . . I find that I yearn for these seasons.
The anticipation of what is yet to come each winter excites me knowing that spring will soon be coming bringing new growth and new life.
In the panhandle of Florida, like much of the state, as well as much of the south, the humidity and stickiness is stifling . . . It’s sticky (I despise feeling sticky), and heavy. During the summer months . . . even in the wee hours of the morning the humidity easily reaches 90%. Just walking outside to sit is miserable and takes my breath away.
Can you tell I am not a fan of summer heat and humidity?
And yet it is my husband’s favorite time of the year. He says anything below 70 is too cold.
I say, keep it below 70 and it’s just right. My favorite days are days where the morning temps begin in the upper 40’s and lower 50’s and peek at 69.
Those days are pure bliss for me.
While I know we are no where near the seasons of perfect temperatures for front porch Bible readings and quiet times, this morning and yesterday it seems like the good Lord is giving us a sweet taste of what I hope is to come.
There have been numerous birds out this morning already . . . dozens of cardinals, countless finches, several titmouse and chickadees, doves, Carolina wrens, a hummingbird, and a squirrel . . . 🤦♀️
There was a time I would have three or four blue jays visiting daily . . . now I’m down to just one. Had I not learned about molting in birds a few months ago I would be concerned . . . but this guy here is in what I call a refining state.
He’s losing the old, worn, damaged feathers to make room for new . . . strong feathers to see him through the tough days of winter.
Here’s what I’ve learned – molting hurts.
It’s painful y’all.
And it’s ugly.
But it’s necessary for them to survive what is yet to come.
In my mind I compared molting to tree pruning . . .
Did you know there is a right way and a wrong way to prune a tree? I had no idea. Here’s a couple diagrams I found . . .
Now I know this will seem silly, but any time I have to prune my flowers or small shrubs, or when my husband prunes the crepe myrtle tree . . . I always wonder if it hurts the tree.
I know . . . it’s silly. But I relate it to losing a part of itself. And even though I know the tree has to lose the dead twigs and even some of the fruit bearing branches, I know it is necessary to prune the trees and vines in order for them to flourish during the next season.
Sorta like when the Lord prunes me.
Whether good or bad – whatever area He is sifting me in, it’s a part of my history.
Sometimes it’s a habit that needs to be broken, or a person that isn’t good for me to be around, or a possession I have taken too much pleasure in, or a priority that shouldn’t be a priority or sometimes . . . It involves being taken to a deeper surrender of self.
But just like the seasons change and beautiful trees full of green leaves and blooming flowers lose their outward beauty . . . They still have their identity.
And just like the molting birds losing their feathers . . . they too . . . still have their identity.
They aren’t defined by their lack of branches or feathers. They are still Crepe Myrtles, tomato plants, or bluebirds. They are just being prepared . . . strengthened . . . for tough days . . . and maybe even tough seasons . . . ahead.
And just because the Lord prunes us . . . Sifts us . . . removes some things from us . . . doesn’t mean we aren’t still ourselves . . . He changes us though . . . From the inside out. Our identity is in Him not in the things He’s cleansing us from.
This Covid season has been hard on many of us . . . heck let’s face it . . . 2020 has been one long nightmare.
It has been a rough season.
I was reading in Psalm 37 recently and highlighted some of the actions words that help keep me focused (you know faith is an action verb) . . . Here’s what I found.
1. Do not fret -Yeap – blew that one.
2. Be not envious Yeap – blew that one too.
3. Trust – in the Lord. Not in myself or news media or politicians. Yeap. Blew that one too.
4. Dwell and cultivate – ugh.
5. Delight yourself in Him – didn’t do that enough – complained too much.
6. Commit your ways to Him . . . let’s just keep going.
7. Trust. In. Him not my plans or what I can see or touch.
8. Rest. In. The. Lord. Rest is an action verb y’all.
9. Do. Not. Fret. Ugh. Does this one have to be mentioned – AGAIN?!
10. Cease. From. Anger. That temper gets me every time. What happened to self control?
11. I don’t even want to type it again . . . Do. Not. Fret. There’s a reason it is mentioned so many times in the Bible. Scripture says it leads to evil doing.
12. Wait. For. The Lord.
13. Be humble . . .
And that’s just in the first eleven verses.
Wanna know what I see in those verses instead of all the things I have done wrong though?
I see two things – the characteristics of Jesus and the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount . . . The Beatitudes.
Wanna know what else I found in Psalm 37 that brings me hope amongst the myriad of ways I fail . . . two things.
1. The word but . . . Throughout scripture we see the word but used as turning points – new beginnings. Countless start overs – countless pick up the pieces and start again. And I see grace given. Lots of grace.
Oh how long suffering my Savior is with me.
2. Countless scenarios of ifs and thens. Through out scripture we see hundreds and hundreds of examples of natural consequences through the two words . . . If and then . . . as well as implied if and thens. The consequences to my choices are self imposed, natural consequences. No abuse is ever given from the Lord. None. But what is given from the Lord is as my Heavenly Father . . . ready and willing to help me get back up, embrace me right where I am, He helps me pick up the pieces and move forward.
While I know I personally blow it in many areas of my day to day life, He has shown me through the pruning process . . . the sifting process, which I have asked Him for this last year . . . His faithfulness, His strength, His grace, His mercy . . . His long-suffering. He has shown me first hand the sifting and shedding of self is meant for good to transform my old self, which includes my old way of thinking, into the image of Christ.
Just like trees are pruned and birds go through the molting process, we too go through our own “molting” and pruning.
He prunes us to make us into fruit bearers.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples