Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Seasons

“They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season without fail. Their leaves never wither, and in all they do, they prosper.” Psalms 1:3

A young mother made an appointment to see me. She came with pen and notebook. She was agitated because she was finishing up maternity leave from a Christian organization and now it was time to go back to her ministry. She didn’t feel ready to return and was concerned about the welfare of her baby. She wanted to know how I juggled raising children and did outside ministry. Good question!

 A letter arrived from one of our leaders in Pakistan. “Your gifts are not being used,” he wrote. It was true. My heart sank. I was failing to meet the expectations of my mission colleagues. I had spent a number of years preparing to go and worked hard at learning the language. And then.... I got pregnant. Everything changed. I didn’t get deeply involved in outside ministry while my children were young. I don’t regret that. I came to see it as a season of mothering.  Young mothers may find it hard to look ahead and realize that the few labor intensive years of parenting are really short and can not be relived. It was pretty much impossible for me at that time to recognize there would be many years to pour myself more fully into outside ministry down the road. The season of parenting young children can seem to last forever but they really do fly by quickly.

There are other seasons, too. Sometimes there is a long time of hidden ministry in the homes of Muslim women and then one that goes more public. Both come and go as God sees fit. There can be a season when there is boundless energy or a season of illness and recuperation, feeling the limits age brings, or needing to give attention to urgent family responsibilities like aging parents. There are seasons of transitions and even bewilderment when nothing makes sense. Being uprooted or expelled from the land of ministering in will bring a season of grieving. Eventually there will be retirement season. I have gone through quite a few seasons. Some seasons are long and some short. There have been times when I’m not sure what the season is all about! In fact a pastor once remarked that when he thought of me the word seasons came to his mind. Every season has value. Sometimes He is doing more in me than through me. So, whatever season we find ourselves in, God can make it fruitful and even cause us to prosper despite the limitations or bewilderment. He has kept me from withering even after 38 years of changing seasons in Muslim ministry. The other day I marveled that my faith was still prospering and wondered how that could happen. What was the secret? It is reduced to staying close to the Season Maker. The seasons change but He does not.

Dear heavenly Father, I remember that Jesus went through seasons of change and understands what I go through trying to adapt to different seasons. I know You can keep me being fruitful in all seasons. In Jesus’ name, Amen.