“This is the day, this is the day, that the Lord has made, that the Lord has made…”
My oldest child’s beautiful voice pierced the strained silence on her first day of Kindergarten. Adult tears flooded the front seat of that minivan as an innocent, trusting faith poured out in the back.
With a three-year-old and expecting my third, I should have been happy for a break. Thrilled to have a few hours with just my son. But all I could think about was how my little preschool family dynamic was irreversibly changing. And how I’d ever make it through the next seven hours without her.
So, in tears and frustration, I wasted the day, gorging myself on Goldfish crackers and Barney reruns.
I’ve always fought the flow of time.
Good seasons of life, I wanted to cling to the hands of the clock and make them stop, dreading Kindergarten and college goodbyes. Suffering seasons, I wanted to press fast forward, concentrating on the next better test outcome or a future day with more energy.
Instead of savoring and stretching into each season God has ordained for me to live in and grow through.
Paul somehow learned to be content in every season. He knew the secret.
During hard times in my life, I’ve been guilty of waiting for a more favorable future, days x’d off like a prisoner’s calendar. And my heart failure has amplified it. Bad days I just try to make it to the end of the day, tomorrow-focused, pleading for a new chapter to my story.
Like a Big Box Store, always running a full season ahead of real life.
When we are in a trying season, days drag on with little relief. Prayer can feel empty and accusatory, once-comforting scripture seems to mock us. Our tendency is to wish it all away rather than go through it, and grow through it.
But in these slow suffering seasons, God is equipping us to carry out His greatest command: to love Him completely and to love others as much as ourselves. In those trenches, we deepen our dependence on a good God we are not capable of fully understanding. And we gain experiences to serve others in ways we never could in the good seasons.
This is the day…
Even when pain clogs the hourglass.
My husband used to tell our kids when they faced a trying season growing up, “It builds character.” The kids would roll their eyes, and even my momma heart wanted to offer more tangible help than that. But the truth is, even the best Father allows periods where His children have to struggle. He knows it is near impossible to develop outstanding character in perpetual sunshine.
Growth takes seasons to accomplish.
In happy seasons, we must hold loosely the gifts God has placed in our hands. Despite all my clenching, it happened like I feared: I bowed to pray holding chubby, sticky toddler fingers, looked up after the “Amen,” and they had moved out of the house. In the glorious times, I wish I had known to appreciate the blessing. Mostly, the blessing I had to watch faith become assurance and hope become reality.
In seasons of sunshine, we are also challenged to embrace the inevitable change, to anticipate the next season. An invaluable lifelong skill. As Fall arrives, I am reminded of the significance and necessity of this letting go, for the leaves and for me. Making way for God’s full plan to develop.
We shouldn’t brush past what we’re living in anticipation for something better. And we shouldn’t grip today too tightly, or we force the life out of it, too.
As Frederick Buechner said, “Listen to your life. You are not living the life you are by accident.” If we wish it away or become obsessed with losing it, if we hurry or worry through it, we miss hearing what today has to say.
This is the day…
Hard as we try, we can’t slow good seasons and we can’t rush difficult ones.
Sometimes the change comes abruptly, like autumn in Arkansas. Other times the season seems a slow time in coming, like recovering from illness or loss. Wiser than any other person, Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 3:11, He has made everything beautiful in its time. Everything is not beautiful at the time, but in His time, it will be. With God, the bad season eventually becomes good. And the good season will one day never have to end.
No matter what kind of day or season we are living through,
Immanuel has promised to be right there in the middle of it: God with us.
There has to exist beauty in that kind of every day.
And with our sovereign God, the flow of the seasons is always on point. We can trust His timing.
This is the day…
My daughter sang the same song every day for years and years as we drove into each new school year, mourning the loss of childhood summer, anticipating the next growth milestone.
From my journal, just after my first hospitalization with heart failure:
Emily is on her way back to Nashville from this unexpected hospital stay, still coming to terms with my diagnosis and condition. Funny that she came home thinking it would be a Thanksgiving celebration and it ended up being a time of deep questioning. She is headed back to her job and her life in her city eight hours away, not knowing if we will ever see each other again this side of heaven. She sent her dad and I the song “It is Well with My Soul” and this text:
“’It Is Well’ lodged itself in my mind as we were driving home, and I think it’s there for a reason. I’m sure you know the backstory, but re-reading the lyrics and circumstances surrounding Spafford writing it did me some good. I’ll call tomorrow; love you both.”
I have wanted all my life to know Paul’s secret, to be content in any situation, in any season. To see times of testing and trial, breakthrough and bliss, as gifts from God to draw me closer to Him. For everything to be well with my soul.
What I may have missed by clinging too tightly to the good seasons is that my songbird has been sharing this secret her entire life. Though different words and music, her song on the way to Kindergarten that sunny season was actually the same song she sent two decades later during a dark season.
I will probably always struggle with the flow of time.
But I have found peace by trusting it to God.
This is the day
and, I can finally say,
It is well with my soul.