Thoughts on Autumn
We are enjoying the days of fall, at least in the northern parts of the earth. Autumn is bringing shorter days, longer nights, and cooler temperatures. The trees are no longer green. The resplendent colors of red, crimson, and yellow adorn the branches, and in some cases the trees are bare. Harvest days are proceeding or perhaps ended. Open fields are barren, awaiting the coming snow. Flocks of geese fly overhead, seeking a warmer home. Many birds have migrated south for the winter.
Some people enjoy the autumn season, with its brisk mornings, colorful foliage, and relief from the summers labors. In the fall we need not endure the burning heat of summer, and we need not suffer from the frigid cold of winter. On the other hand, the mood of many people changes during the autumn as they realize a long and cold winter awaits them. It seems like the hopefulness of spring is replaced by the emptiness of fall. As days grow increasingly cold, the anticipation that people have when the first spark of life is seen in spring is replaced by an awareness that nature is dying and decaying and only uncomfortable cold and stark deadness lies ahead.
Our life is like the changing seasons. Like springtime, we begin our life with optimism, hopefulness, and energy. The summer reminds us that the prime of life is a time of accomplishment and productivity. As the fall ends the growth cycle, so our lives reach old age. The coldness of winter, when much of nature is dormant, is a reminder that our earthly life must have an end. As Solomon reminds us, there is “a time to give birth and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted” (Eccles. 3:2). He goes on to speak of youth and old age, concluding with the refrain, “Vanity of vanities” (12:8).
As I think about the lessons we learn from the yearly cycle of nature, I am reminded of the message in some of our songs. One convicting song by Annie Coghill has this as the last verse:
Work, for the night is coming, under the sunset skies;
While their bright tints are glowing, work, for daylight flies;
Work till the last beam fadeth, fadeth to shine no more;
Work while the night is darkning, when mans work is oer.
Autumn is a reminder that the summertime of life will cease and the wintertime of life is approaching. It is a reminder that we should heed the words of Amos: “Prepare to meet your God” (4:12). It is a reminder that we have only limited time to serve the Lord, thus we must “work while the night is darkning, when mans work is oer.” It is a reminder that our lives are in the hands of God and we cannot change His timetable, His plans, or His purposes.
Another Scripture comes to mind. When the Jews were in Babylonian exile, they felt hopeless. They felt like the better days were past. They felt deserted. “Harvest is past, summer is ended,” they cry, “and we are not saved” (Jeremiah 8:20). One song, based on that verse, says:
The harvest is past, and the reapers are gone;
The summer is ended, I sorrow alone:
God’s mercies and judgments were slighted by me,
And now for deliv’rance no hope I can see.
The harvest is past, and the wheat all returned,
And now with the chaff I am doomed to be burned:
All warnings of danger I madly outbraved–
The summer is ended, and I am not saved.
The autumn season is a reminder that the bright and beautiful days of summer are numbered. They will not last. Neither will our earthy life. If we fail to heed Gods call to repent and turn to Him in faith, we will have no other opportunity.
If we have lived our spring and summer well, laboring for the Lord, then the autumn and following winter holds no dread. If we have lived our life well, the end of our life will hold no terror of the future. Jesus is the answer! He freed “those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all of their lives” (Heb. 2:15). The consoling words of Christ Jesus are ours: “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if the dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die” (John 11:25-26). The autumn period of our life is just a prelude to the glories of eternity with the Lord!
This autumn let us look beyond the raking of leaves and winterizing of our houses, beyond the collecting if firewood and stocking of food. Let us be reminded of the spiritual lessons to be gleaned from the change of seasons. Day after day, season after season, lessons from God come to us from the natural world. All of nature reminds us of Gods eternal truth!