The leaves have all fallen down and are gently resting around the yard, still waiting to be whisked away by us lazy people indoors who would rather admire them from the window panes. The warmth of a Wisconsin sun is still hanging on, long past its prime, and while the nights are turning brisk and chilled, winter still feels far away. And yet, Thanksgiving Day is next week already. It turns out that while the days grow shorter, and the knowledge that snow will one day come rings loud in our heads, the world keeps on spinning and time keeps on ticking. A summer that refuses to say goodbye can’t stop the leaves from falling, or the new season from saying hello.
This autumn has been my life story these days, all summed up in a season refusing to go and the begonias below my kitchen window refusing to let their colors fade. I want so much to hold on to what I want…to my dreams and my plans. But God keeps bringing beauty in unexpected places. It is a bittersweet goodbye I am experiencing, and yet an even sweeter hello to the possibilities which lay ahead.
It turns out that God never promises you stability in your plans. He never says, “design the house and I will build it”. Instead He says, “I will design and build a life, and will guide you through it.” He formed the curves of this world in His hand. He filled the sun with His warmth. He poured out His heart into His people and He baptized the world in oceans and rivers and tides. His Heavens hang high in wonder. His stars give light to the earth. And here I stand, in my tiny corner of this beautifully created world, and hang tight to blue prints that I thought up myself, refusing to surrender to the very creator of beauty, to the very Creator of my life.
Why is it so hard to give away what was never yours? Why do we hold so tight to “normal” and “ordinary”? I’ve watched this autumn so gently breeze its way in even while the summer warmth so stubbornly held on, like me, saying “I’m not ready.” And this is what God has been doing with me. He hasn’t ripped my dreams out of my hands. He hasn’t abruptly uprooted everything I’ve ever wanted. Instead, He’s been letting me say goodbye to things that might never be. He’s given me space and time to dream something new, and to wade gently into the waters of surrendering everything to Him. It’s been a Grace that I know I don’t deserve…time to think, and to change, and to grow into someone different. And I know that not all change ushers so gently in. But I’m thankful for the way that God has been dealing with me. I’m thankful for His gentle and slow hand over this area of my life.
Thanksgiving Day will arrive as it always does. And we will gather around tables and turkeys and friends and families. And we will bow our heads and fold our hands, and fall silent as the prayers are offered up, as our thanks makes its way from our heads to our hearts. I know that this world isn’t really our home, but these people we are gathered with will always be our people. I know that this earth is temporary, but the Grace that is extended to us while we are here will mark our hearts forever. And I know this season of my life isn’t meant to last an eternity, but how it is molding my faith will.
We can be thankful in hard things, world. We can find beauty in whatever it is God is working into our lives. Not every corner of our lives is going to be tidy. We aren’t going to let go of every season gracefully. We are going to stumble and we are going to struggle to loosen our stubborn hearts. But there is Redemption in our transformation. There is Mercy in where God is leading us.
There is snow in the forecast for next week here. And yet tomorrow it will be in the high 60’s, a sweet summery goodbye to an autumn that gave us all time.
There is so much to be thankful for. There is so much beauty ahead.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”