Every season of life worth joy, thanksgiving

By Judy Brandon: CNJ religion columnist

I love autumn. I suppose that fall and all its colors of the changing season remind me of life’s changes for we are not in one season for all the times of our lives. A short reprieve in the mountains this last week reminded me again of how God reveals Himself to us. The cottonwood trees and the aspen trees and all the others were brilliant yellows and reds. The scene was magnificent. Each day I spot a new tree and decide I have to appreciate its grandeur because as the season comes and goes, our lives change with it. We work hard and fill each day with activity and obligations. In the midst of this, we usually hope to find lasting fulfillment in each day that we live.

Yet, think about this question: What brings lasting fulfillment? And don’t we seek that fulfillment during all the stages of our lives? I struggled for fulfillment and meaning as a young girl by trying to be popular. When I went off to college, the Vietnam war was at its height and I soon was identified with a generation who sought answers for fulfillment in the light of a major national crisis that directly involved our generation. Individually, we struggled with these questions: “Who am I? Where am I going? Where is life taking me? How can I find myself? How can I find lasting fulfillment?

Those questions are not just for the formative years. As I have grown older, I have found that life experience and its seasons do not necessarily answer those life questions. Some people look to find satisfaction in their surroundings, circumstances and relationships. Yet, if we lean on these for fulfillment and the consistency of these things, we will be greatly disappointed.

The media today really capitalizes on this issue of fulfillment. Go to any big book store or check out any magazine at the cashier’s station. Magazines and books abound that address self worth and the meaningful life.

The difference in the biblical perspective is that the Bible helps us not to look to others or our surroundings for our sense of self worth and identity. The Bible tells us who we are. We are all created in the image of God. “When God created Adam, he made him in the likeness of God.” (Genesis 9:6) The Bible tells us that we are of great worth to God. God gave the most precious gift, his own Son, to us. “For God so loved the world that he have his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) The Bible reveals the depth of God’s love for us. “This is how we know what love is: Jesus laid down his life for us.” (1 John 3:16) The Bible reveals to us how we fit into the entire plan. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

In that light, we should view each season of our lives with Thanksgiving and a thankful heart. As those fragile leaves are on my trees only for a season, I know that security is not found in the seasons of our lives. Security and life fulfillment come only in knowing we are created, loved and valued by God. When we realize this, we can go through the seasons in our lives and know that our times are in His hands.