Beauty in Every Season
I didn’t grow up in Colorado. It’s true, I’m a transplant. And if you catch me when I’m really tired you can probably hear my Louisiana accent come out, without much effort to hide it. I grew up in the country with lots of trees around...not these Colorado aspen trees, but lots of pine trees. And I’m well acquainted with the mighty oak trees too. So when I moved to Colorado, it took time to adjust to not only the altitude (Jesus help me breathe!) but also to the scenery. I have grown to love Colorado, the mountains, and the aspen trees, even though I think the air is still a bit too thin.
The autumn season in Colorado will usually have an influx of people who are eager to snap the perfect picture of those sought after golden aspen leaves. I get it...the scenery is beautiful. I am frequently one of those trying to get the perfect light on those gorgeous trees, working my way around the other photo buffs.
But it wasn’t until this past fall that I saw something different. Actually, it was something I had seen many times before, with my natural eyes. But this time my vision was a bit different as I listened to hear the Holy Spirit speak. It was on a hike at the end of October.
As I was hiking back down from my destination of a small waterfall, I noticed the aspen trees along the road. At an elevation of about 9000 feet, the trees had already lost their leaves. But on this bright sunny day with a blue sky that only Colorado can display, the white tree trunks were absolutely beautiful. I had to stop and look at them, and yes, even take a picture.
The Holy Spirit highlighted their beauty to me. There wasn’t anyone else around me at the time, no one was trying to take a picture, there wasn’t a crowd jostling around to get the perfect shot. It was just me. And yet I saw a beauty in those trees that I’d never seen before. Maybe even a beauty that couldn’t be seen until that moment...in that season.
And as I finished the hike back down to my car, I heard the Holy Spirit talking about the different seasons we face in our lives. He reminded me of Simon Peter. Don’t you just love Peter? Aren’t you glad that Jesus chose him? Look at some of the different seasons he walked through. He was a loud-mouthed fisherman one minute, and then he was on his knees confessing to the Lord in the next. He spoke the revelation from heaven declaring that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah...and then just a couple verses later, Jesus was rebuking him for aligning with the mindset of satan. After boldly professing that he would even lay down his life for Jesus (see John 13), Peter denied knowing Jesus three times. And one more just for good measure - after Jesus was raised from the dead and appeared to the disciples, Peter still chose to go back to fishing (John 21).
It sounds to me like Peter had some serious ups and downs in life. He had some shining moments, but he also had seasons of difficulty. But the truth is, Peter was still chosen by Jesus. He was still deeply loved. And Jesus reminded Peter of that truth, reaffirming his true identity. In Matthew 16:17 (TPT), He calls Simon “favored and privileged”, and then changes his name to Peter, referring to the revelation given him as a foundational rock. Later, after Peter returned to fishing, Jesus spoke of his calling to feed the sheep and care for the lambs. And we know that Peter became a foundational part of the early church, with his writings included in holy Scripture.
I find it comforting to know that Peter experienced some rough times, and yet the love and mercy of God was passionately faithful to pursue him and choose him. And Jesus never changed his mind about Peter. He only spoke true identity over him.
The Lord does the same for us. There are so many verses that tell us who we are...not who the world says we are...or what society asks us to be...but the truth of our identity. We can never exhaust the power of these verses, so let’s review some of them, using the Passion translation:
2 Corinthians 5:17, “Now if anyone is enfolded into Christ, he has become an entirely new person. All that is related to the old order has vanished. Behold, everything is fresh and new!”
Ephesians 1:4, “And in love he chose us before he laid the foundation of the universe! Because of his great love, he ordained us, so that we would be seen as holy in his eyes with an unstained innocence.”
Ephesians 1:7, “Since we are joined to Christ, we have been given the treasures of redemption by his blood - the total cancellation of our sins - all because of the cascading riches of his grace.”
Romans 3:24, “Yet through his powerful declarations of acquittal, God freely gives away his righteousness. His gift of love and favor now cascades over us, all because Jesus, the Anointed One, has liberated us from the guilt, punishment, and power of sin.”
Romans 8:37b, “God has made us to be more than conquerors, and his demonstrated love is our glorious victory over everything!”
Romans 8:17, “Since we are his true children, we qualify to share all his treasures, for indeed, we are heirs of God himself. And since we are joined to Christ, we also inherit all that he is and all that he has...”
I dare say that we already know these verses, and can quickly quote them whether we take them to heart or not. But if we’re completely honest, it’s easier to remember (and believe) our true identity when things are going well. When our family situation is pleasant...when our job is going great...when our bank account looks good...when our physical health is top notch...and we can see God’s faithfulness all around us, it’s easy to say we are chosen, loved and favored. When the person we pray for is healed, we remember our true identity. When we preach a great message or sing a powerful worship song and get that approval from those around us, we may be affirmed in our identity. But the truth is, our identity is not defined by the season we’re in. Hmmm...let’s hear that again...
Your identity is not defined by the season you’re in.
It’s just like those aspen trees I saw on my hike. They had already lost their golden splendor, and no one was interested in seeing them anymore. There wasn’t a crowd or photographers, just bare trees standing alone in the sun. Oh, but they were still aspen trees...just in a different season.
We go through many seasons. Sometimes we are flying high and recognized by those in authority. And there are times when it seems like no one remembers we exist. We may crawl through seasons of loneliness, or skip joyfully through seasons of incredible favor. Sometimes our “decorative leaves” are sought after by the masses...and then when the season turns, there isn’t anyone to share the memory. The seasons will change.
Regardless of how faithful Peter was - or wasn’t - he was still called to follow Jesus and preach the good news. The same is true for you and me. Our value - our worth - our beauty - is not determined by a particular season, but by the One who writes our story through each moment. When God speaks of our identity in Christ, His word is final...no matter the season.
Now, I can’t describe every season of your life, but I know that I’ve had my share of rough seasons, and good ones too. I’ve had times where I failed miserably, and even some where I wanted to completely give up. But the faithfulness of God has outlived my shortcomings. His tenacious love has rewritten my story. His Word is bigger than my changing seasons. It always will be.
Worship Moments for Your Week: