Last Sunday, I was driving on the Turnpike through the mist and fog of the early morning on my way to Emporia for a couple church services. I was thinking about my sermon for the day (which I would be giving in less than an hour), but was looking all around me at the beauty of the Kansas landscape. And for the first time this year, I was shocked by the transformation I was able to see. It seems like only last week that all the grass in our pastureland was brown from a dry winter and the trees were still bare. But, even though it was pretty chilly on Sunday, I was looking out at a brilliant green landscape.
I don’t know about you, but this winter has seemed like the longest I can remember. We had snow just days ago! The cold and ice has just dragged on and on! But the weather seems to have finally turned! We’re even getting rain, a welcome surprise after such a long period of drought in the midwest.
Meteorologically, we are in a transitional moment. Just last week, with our snow, we were able to see that even when the trees were starting to bud, winter was sending its final gasps of breath our way. As my wife was starting to do our packing to move to Manhattan, she was telling me how stressful moving in the early Spring can be. Can you pack away all the sweatshirts and sweaters, or should you keep them out? Can the majority of the long pants be put away in favor of shorts? Transitional moments are hard because we are pulled in two directions at one time.
Everyone at school is in a time of transition. It’s about this time of year that teachers start reminding students that next year they will be in a new grade with new teachers and new expectations. The seniors have been in transition for months now; most of them finally making their college decisions in the last couple weeks. Teachers are faithful to the classes they currently teach, but are looking forward to next year and the tweaking we need to do to refine our classes.
Jesus talked a lot about transition. It must be because he was constantly aware of the fact that his time on earth was very limited. He reminded us not to worry about what is to come (“Consider the lilies of the field”), he prepared his disciples for his death by promising to send the Holy Spirit as an advocate and aide, and he seemed both excited to return to his Father and resentful of the fact, clinging to his earthly existence. There were several readings I could have selected to talk about this period of transition, but instead of choosing to hear from Jesus, I chose to hear from Paul in his letter to the Galatians:
Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow.If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh; but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit. So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith. (Galatians 6:7-10)
Whenever I find myself in transition, I am always surprised how true I find Paul’s advice that we “reap whatever we sow.” The image here being one of a farmer scattering seed in a field and waiting for the harvest to come. The harvest that comes will be whatever the farmer had scattered in the field. If good seed was planted, good crops; if bad seed was planted, bad crops.
It’s the same thing in our lives, when we are in a time of transition, we become keenly aware of what we have sown and whether we are reaping good crops or bad. If we haven’t been diligent about study and work, we can expect lower than stellar grades. If we haven’t invested in developing relationships with our friends, we can expect distance. If we choose not to study for a final, we can expect to fail. Transition brings out the truth about how we have lived.
But there isn’t only bad news for those of us who haven’t sown good seed and developed good habits. The renwal of Spring and Summer teaches us that we always have another opportunity next year or with our next friendships. The earth continues to blossom even in the midst of drought. With each green field or budding tree, we are invited to assess our lives in this moment of transition and to make some resolutions about how we will choose to be on the other side.
How have you experienced transition in your life? Was it a transition which revealed good seed or bad? When have you resolved to plant better seeds?