Today I was mesmerized as I looked out the window, watching the leaves falling off the trees, the sunlight filtering through the barren branches…. And my thoughts wandered back a few weeks, to the brand new “Church on the Hill” in Port-de-Paix, Haiti. On Sunday nights, each American is asked to come on the stage and share something with the people. Anything. It’s a wide open platform and there are a million things to choose. It’s hard to know what to say and what will be relevant because I tend to think I don’t really have anything of significance to tell a group of people who have lived such adversity.
I started picking up red, yellow, and orange leaves in our yard a few weeks before we left and I carefully pressed them in a few old books. I do that almost every fall, out of habit probably, because the beauty of the leaves always feels fresh to me. Each year as the green turns to all different colors I am amazed. The changing of seasons always seems so significant.
Obviously, the seasons in Haiti look a lot different than those in Michigan… and I decided it would be fun to take the leaves to my friends so they could see them.
I tied the leaves on a string and I carefully slid them into my journal, hoping they wouldn’t crumble before Sunday night. I held them as the service began and I watched the joy on the people’s faces as they worshipped and prayed.
So desperate for God to move in their lives.
So dependent on Him for the most basic of needs.
And yet so hopeful, so confident in Him.
I don’t know all of their stories, but I studied their faces. I realize it’s easy for me to pencil in details that I’m not fully aware of, that the time I spend with them is so brief, but each time God uses them to teach me something so profound.
I walked up on stage, smoothed my page of words, and took a deep breath. I held up my leaves and explained the changing of seasons, and I told them I wished they could experience the beauty of the changing leaves in Michigan, except that they would freeze in about half a second. They nodded and agreed with me.
Though the seasons in Haiti may be different than the seasons in Michigan, there are still seasons. And in our lives, there are seasons.
Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastics 3 that there are times for every season. Seasons of sorrow, seasons of joy. There are times of birth and times of death, times of planting and times of harvesting. There are times we laugh and times we cry.
I looked at their sweet faces and said, “I don’t know what you are facing right now. It may be a good season, or it may be a hard season. But no matter what, God is always God. And He is always good. He is not surprised by our hard times or our questions. When we are brokenhearted, He is near to us. In every season, He is with us.”
But here’s the thing. I had watched them worship just moments before. I had watched them praying and lifting their hands to Jesus. And I saw them living out those words before I said them, believing that God would take care of them no matter the season.
And as the wind blows through the trees today and I watch the leaves swirl and fall, I wonder if we believe that message ourselves. We, who insulate ourselves in our warm houses and firm beliefs and full bellies.
As things spiral out of control around us, do we have the courage to believe that in every season, He is with us? That He is near us?
You see, after Solomon wrote about all the different seasons in life, he wrote one of my very favorite verses. In Ecclesiastics 3:11, he wrote, “Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.”
There is beauty in every season, if we only have the courage to look for it. There is hope in every season, though we may have to search a little harder to find it. And there is longing in every season, because we were made for eternity. It’s planted in our hearts. As God’s people, in every town, city, and country around the world, we must dare to trust Him with our lives.
“When things are hard and you are discouraged,” I told them, as I held up the string of leaves, “I want you to picture these beautiful leaves. I want you to remember that God is with you in the good and the bad. Trust in Him to guide you, to be your refuge, and to always praise Him.”
I slipped the leaves to Pastor Handson after the service. “You can have these,” I said, thinking of the millions more falling, ready for me to rake when I returned home. He grinned wide and thanked me. A few days later, my friend Ricardo said to me, “You left the leaves at church. Do you want me to get them for you?”
“I did that on purpose.” I answered him. I wanted my Haitian friends to remember.
And I want YOU to remember.
Those words weren’t only for Mr. Daniel, Lovely, Sonel and everyone else packed in the Church on the Hill. Those words are for you today, my friend. Look at the leaves and dare to trust Jesus. There is always a season… and in every season there is beauty because there is Jesus. His presence in our lives does not change. He alone can hand us hope and peace. And in your very soul, He has planted eternity. Trust Him to do the work from the beginning of time to the end of time.
You can rest in Him.
I’m so very glad you’re here. I hope you’ll stick around so we can get to know one another a little more. Go here if you’d like to receive posts from me via email. I have a few printable verses I’d love to send you to encourage your heart. –Sarah