As the weather changes, and one season rolls over into another, we are ever reminded of the steady progression of time. Summer turns into Fall, Fall becomes Winter, Spring follows Winter, then comes the Summer and eventually, should we live so long, Summer will once more turn into Fall. There is no stopping the march of the seasons, for the seasons are from God, and will continue until God Himself puts an end to it.
“While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease (Genesis 8:22; ESV).” God ordained the seasons and God ordained time (cf. Genesis 1:14), and as the seasons do indeed continue to cycle through, one after another, we can take some comfort in the continual evidence of God’s sovereignty expressed in the unchangeable mutability of the weather.
When God ordained the seasons, cold and heat, summer and winter, He also pointed us to one of the most obvious truths of this cycle: there is a time for planting and there is a time for harvesting. The passage of the seasons reminds us of the truth expressed by Solomon: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2; ESV).”
When summer comes to its close, the teacher and student alike know that the time for school is upon us. When the snow thaws and the spring flowers come, the farmer knows that planting time is once more coming upon him. When spring gives way to summer, families know that it is time to start planning their annual vacations. Then comes the season for harvesting. Around and around it goes. But we each recognize the seasons and know from the season what activity is appropriate.
Moreover, we also recognize that if the farmer does not plant in the Spring, he won’t harvest in the Fall. Nor will it do him much good, if he, having missed the Spring planting, decided to plant in the Fall so as to harvest in the Spring. There is an appropriate season for planting, and when it is time, that is when it must be done.
The Seasons of this Earth also remind us that there are Spiritual Seasons, and a Spiritual harvest.
The man of God is described thus: “He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. (Psalm 1:2; ESV)” Elsewhere, Jesus, speaking about the soul in which the Word of God takes root and grows, says, “as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty (Matthew 13:23; ESV).”
We reap what we sow, and we must sow in season. If we wish to reap a spiritual fruit at the harvest time, then when it is time to plant, we need to be planting.
That’s why Paul charged Timothy, “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching (2 Timothy 4:2; ESV).” The seed is the Word of God (cf. Luke 8:11), and if we aren’t ready to plant it when the moment is right, we’re going to miss out on the harvest.
Too often we put off what has been given us to do today. We procrastinate and think, “That’s a good thing to do, I should get around to doing it.” A farmer who does this too long never gets the seed in the ground, and never gets to the harvest. Spiritually, there are a lot of people in that situation. They would like a good Spiritual harvest; they want to be Spiritual people, but they never seem to get around to actually doing the things necessary to accomplish that goal. They don’t spend time in God’s word. They don’t spend time in prayer. They don’t spend time with God’s people, edifying and being edified. They don’t spend time doing the good works God wants them to be doing. It may be the right season for it, but they put off the seed planting for another year, and then another, and then another…
Time doesn’t slow down, and season continues to turn into season, God’s clock: reminding us that we don’t have forever. One day the seasons will come to an end for each of us. Then comes the judgment, when we stand before God and present the fruit that we have harvested from the seeds we have planted.
Jesus rebuked the Jews once, saying, paraphrased, “You know how to interpret the weather, but you don’t know how to interpret the spiritual seasons (cf. Matthew 16:3).” Let’s pray that we are a little wiser than they were. This is a good season for doing what God wants, so let’s redeem the time properly (cf. Ephesians 5:15-17).
If you want to be planting good spiritual seed in your life, the church of Christ invites you to study with us, and worship with us at 234 Chapel Drive, Gallipolis, Ohio. If you have any questions, including subjects you might like to see addressed, please share them with us through our website: chapelhillchurchofchrist.org
Jonathan McAnulty is minister of Chapel Hill Church of Christ.