The Four Seasons

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." (Luke 2:14 NIV)

As the Christmas season sets in, the world outside begins to prepare for the cold, dark days of winter. Icy winds and blowing snow replace the warm breeze and delicious smells of flowing trees, and at such times, my mind often turns to memories of the past summer.

Take our wedding anniversary celebration last summer, for example. Now THAT is a memory worth contemplating, especially in the cold blasts of winter! We had reserved a room at a beautiful bed-and-breakfast called the Four Seasons. It was named after the famous composition by Vivaldi, and if ratings could be given for these kinds of establishments, this one would certainly have earned 5 stars. The gardens around the tranquil water fountain were stunningly well-maintained, there was a Jacuzzi tub in our room, and the balcony looked out over the spectacular grounds. Our short stay left us feeling revitalized, young once again.

It wasn't just the Four Seasons bed-and-breakfast that made this anniversary special. We had spent the afternoon watching a delightful summer play, and after a tête-à-tête Swiss cheese fondue, we strolled through the town like two young lovers, just enjoying each other's company. It is with heavy hearts we left that delightful place the following day, for we knew that ahead of us was another stress-filled year with its many challenges.

While contemplating this delightful experience, I couldn't help but think about the name of our special bed-and-breakfast, the Four Seasons, and my mind wandered to the four seasons of the year. I was amazed to realize that that summer was one of my favorite seasons. The trees are filled with their beautiful green and red foliage, the grass is bright green, and the flowers make their appearance throughout this season. The sun graces us with its presence, warming our heart and soul. I also always welcome spring with open arms, for it announces that summer is soon forth coming. Fall is the season to commemorate all the delightful memories of the past summer, while winter greets us with its cold chill. Brrrr! Summer seems to be just a memory.

It's always interesting how our mind will jump from one thing to another, and soon my memories of the recent bed-and-breakfast experience took a different turn, and I began to see "seasons" in the passage of time. When Jesus came to this earth 2000 years ago, He brought "spring" to our existence. He announced the soon arrival of God's eternal "summer", available to anyone who accepts Him in their lives. Many received His message of hope, love and healing, but some perceived Jesus as a threat and treated Him coldly, eventually finding an excuse to nail Him to a cross. But their cold wintry attitude was defeated when Jesus rose three days later, promising His resurrection life to all of His followers.

We, as humans, can be like Jesus and greet those around in a spring-like fashion, encouraging them to persevere, bringing them hope, love and peace through the gospel of Jesus. After all, "eternal summer" WILL soon be here. Doesn't THAT give us a reason to celebrate? The world around us may be in turmoil, but we can still radiate inner peace and joy. Why? Because we know Jesus personally, and we can share our joy with others.

Too often however, believers act as if the "fall" season is upon them. They commemorate all the times in the Bible and in the history of their own churches when God has been experienced by people, however they do not know God personally, for if they did, a current personal relationship with God would overshadow their past experiences. When God is perceived as only being active in the past, the message given is one of sadness, not of hope!

Then there are those, like the Pharisees, Sadducees and the other ministers of Jesus' day, who treat others coldly, as if they were a "winter" blizzard and no one is really welcome in their presence. They act as if heaven is reserved for them alone, and no one else is worthy of God's love. They forget that they, themselves, are ALSO unworthy of His love, for ALL have sinned!

Neither of these last two groups of people really know our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. His "spring" message is clear and simple: "Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." (John 7:38 NIV); "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matt 11:28 NIV); "When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me. I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness." (John 12:44-46 NIV); and "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16 NIV)

How are you treating others around you? Are you a "fall" Christian, celebrating only God's past actions? Are you a "winter" Christian, treating others as if they were not worthy of God's company? Or are you a "spring" Christian? Do you know God personally? Do you follow in Jesus' footsteps and love others unconditionally? "We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother." (1 John 4:19-21 NIV); "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:34-35 NIV).

During this Christmas season, let us celebrate the "spring" of this world by experiencing Jesus personally. Let us follow in His footsteps by sharing His hope with those around us. Summer is forth coming! Let Jesus radiate through us. His peace and joy will be noticeable to others, if we just let Him shine through us. He is alive and lives right in our heart. Thank you Jesus, for being my friend and Savior! Hallelujah!

What season of a Christian are YOU??!!

Rob Chaffart

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