Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Seasons

In the book of Ecclesiastes there is a passage the  writer speaks of ‘…a time for..’ In that passage events are contrasted as opposite events. Yet each one we all will learn is a part of the journey.  If we have allowed this life to teach us its nature, I believe we will see beyond the boundaries of our own flesh and peer into the magnificence of this life and all it has to offer us. We will learn to take it in stride the season we find ourselves in knowing it is only for a time. Perhaps a time of joy, perhaps not. There is the spring and summer but also there is fall and…winter. If we do not accept the place we find ourselves in, we will lose the most valuable of lessons.  There is a place and a purpose to all we experience in life and if our life has found a groove of smoothness and no real descent or incline or bumps, it is not a groove at all, it is a rut. I have seen much in this life and experienced the joy of it as well as the pain. The warm embrace and the solitude of separation. I have come to realize each one is as valuable as the other. It is the color of life and if we do not allow ourselves the taste of the bitter as well as the sweet, we are not in the process of learning at all but stasis. I have gathered and I have scattered. I have done good and evil. I have had faith and I have doubted. I have been loving and vengeful. Some I hold as positive and the others I hold in humility but I hold them all…I own them . If we are to learn the lesson that God teaches that of humility above all else, we hold all of it. If not we are nothing more than an unbalanced wheel always veering here and there. It is all of life that balances us.  I believe the Lord himself, in the gospels has tried to teach this lesson in perhaps a very subtle yet profound way. If we are followoing  Him truly following Him, the Way before us will balance  out. With each tendency balancing out the other keeping us on the straight and narrow way. If we do not we will veer and end up stuck on the berm of God’s highway.
“He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters…” Luke 11:23
What does it really mean to gather or scatter? It simply means in the end if you gather, you end up with more of life’s lessons, experiences and humility then less.  If we allow God to teach us through the seasons of fall (loss) and winter (death), it is the only way to get to spring.  The fruit of one’s life is not measures in meted measures, it is to be looked at as a whole. It is not about counting the good or the evil. The fact is the good is gathered and the evil is scattered.  It might seem that all we do is scattered and appears as loss initially, but the long term viewpoint is what is required to see it all in the correct light.
Many have come and gone or are in the process of dissipation. For these, Life is not looked as something to be freely given but protected, collected, measured and stocked away safely. This is how movements perhaps once brilliant become the dusty corners where old records and trinkets gather and collect nothing but the layered films of obsolescence. This is the main fruit of the scattered. The obscurity and tragedy of being no longer fit for the Master’s use. It causes me to wonder if the House of God has an attic.
The ironic thing about it is the picture of the gatherer and the one who scatters I get is exactly the opposite of their nature, appearance and perhaps even results as measured by the eye. I am drawn to the parable of the rich man and the poor man who begged scraps from the table of the former while dogs licked his sores. One exited their life in a whimper and release of pain and sorrow while the other’s mirth and plenty was abruptly cut off. Fast forward to the scene in Hell, one in paradise and the other in the flame with a great gulf between them. Ironically the beggar was a gatherer and the other was a one who scattered. In other words, Life cannot be measured in works but grace.
What does it really mean to gather. It is about love. Love goes through its seasons and seems dead in winter…but it is only for a season. Genuine love waits, hopes and never stops believing in the God who is nothing but love. The fruit of a gatherer is that they themselves are gathered. There is a phrase in the Old Testament in the times of the patriarchs, judges and kings where it was said an individual was ‘gathered’ unto His people. The gathering defined here is the same meaning as when Jesus peered upon Jerusalem and out of the aching of His heart, he was overcome with compassion and wanted to gather them as a hen does her chicks. Stop and let that sink in. A true gatherer seeks that which rejects them. It hopes for a day of gathering to understand, forgive, heal and once again walk with those who were once separated.
What does it mean to scatter. It may include the acquisition of power of the individual. Self-exaltation and aggrandizement.  It may actually collect in the sense of captivity. It may cast a protective veil over its possessions and even prosper. But all garments not woven by God wear out. Holes from wear and pressure and weight tatter and tear the tapestry of one who scatters. If you follow one who scatters for a while you will notice the trail of the broken pieces that line their way. In the end whatever was collected is lost and mostly so broken, there is only the shadow of what was originally there. This is God’s  testament and record against the one who scatters. In the end there is nothing but self.
When I look back on my own life, as a whole, I realize that have done both. We all do. But when we see the seasons change from winter to spring, I think I can say I am at least a little favorable on the gathering side. The lesson I have learned is in God, whatever He has established in me will last and endure and the rest will fall away to reveal its own true nature and in that process I become more like Him and  my desire to be so continues to 'gather'