04 November 2009

On Seasons, Sleep and Trust

Sent this, more or less, to our students today:

"In peace, I will lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me rest secure." Psalm 4.8

It's the time of year when I tend to get a little anxious about things at our house. No, this isn't our house pictured here, no matter how much I might wish it were. Our little ranch here in Ames is nowhere near as stately, but at this time of year, every house and property needs a good bit of "putting away" at the end of autumn. There are leaves to be raked and mulched, windows to clean and caulk, and in my case, a long, long list of projects I'd hoped to do over the summer that time and other demands simply wouldn't allow me to complete. The shed I hoped to move into the corner? Still occupying a good portion of the yard. The garden I'd hoped to start? Still a dream. The gate I hoped to replace? Might get done if I can convince our daughters to stop getting sick long enough that I can actually take a day off to, well, have a day off and put the thing in the ground. True, I did rebuild our fence to keep the dog in the yard, and just this week I got the first coat of fresh paint on the front door. But there's a LOT that I never got to because life just gets in the way sometimes.

Like it or not, in a few short weeks any possibility to complete these projects will be gone, buried under frost, freezing temperatures and, hopefully, a nice blanket of snow. The hostas will snooze over the winter, the yard will lie dormant, and the only work I'll be doing outside will be lights in December and shoveling all winter long. The earth in this part of the country will sleep, as it does every winter, whether our grand plans have come to fruition or not.

Perhaps you're feeling that frantic, "but I didn't get it all done!" feeling, too. Or maybe, like my daughters, you're fighting the need for rest with everything you've got because there's just so much to see and do yet. My daughters come by this honestly - I'm a notorious night-owl and early riser all at once, and have remarked more than once to my wife, "Life would be just grand if we didn't have to sleep." But sleep, and die, we must - there is a time for all things to be awake and alive and a time for all things to rest, to end, to lie dormant and wait for the resurrecting hand of their Creator.

I love winter, too, but in a few months I'll be outside peering at the ground, waiting for those first blades of green to emerge from our flower beds and in our lawn. And I'll be amazed at the wonder of God's life-giving hand bringing our part of the world out of death into life all over again. Because, as Psalm 121 says, "the keeper of Israel does not slumber or sleep," and we can trust that the one who brings all things to rest will awaken them when the time to rise has come.

As you move toward these things, rest secure in this knowledge: the God who watches over you knows you need rest at times, and you may trust absolutely in the care and keeping of this One who has created you. This world turns at God's bidding, and the same God who draws the autumn to its close and brings springtime out of winter will watch over you as you work AND as you rest. While it is time, friends, do your work to the utmost of your ability; and when the time for rest has come, rest in the unfathomable peace of the living, never-slumbering God.

Grace and peace,

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