Across the Seasons

Isn’t it amazing how God can use all of His creation to teach us? Just last week, He taught me that whatever season of life we are in, there’s value we can bring to His kingdom. Driving back from Paris (Texas y’all), the beautiful field of cotton (photo left), prepared for harvest, overwhelmed me. Making the last turn on the county road before my drive, I looked across the field of new winter wheat (photo right) toward my house. Lush and green, I thought to myself “That’s a nice stand coming up there”, as it was getting difficult to row it up (i.e. look down the distinct rows). Turning down my drive, God gave me His daily lesson from the stark comparison of the two scenes.

The cotton was ready for harvesting. It had grown to its full maturity, evidenced by the bolls having popped open and filled with cotton. They applied the defoliant, causing the plant’s leaves to fall away; allowing the harvesting equipment (cotton pickers) to be most effective. Once harvested, a process that removes the cotton from its boll and places it into large bales or cubes weighing up to twenty thousand pounds each, it is ready for ginning.

Like oranges in Florida or California, cotton is a flower that transforms into a fruit. Did you know that cotton is a living organism with genes and DNA? And did you know cotton comes in different colors/varieties, with some even being flame resistant? I’ve wondered how God came up with the whole concept of transformation through maturation. He seems to apply it everywhere.

Less than three miles from the cotton, the winter wheat had emerged and was flourishing after the recent rains. While fall rain can be ruinous for the cotton harvest, farmers who have planted their fall and winter crops welcome it. Did you know that God made rain to be a natural fertilizer? Among its many helpful, natural nutrients is nitrogen, which promotes healthy plant growth.

Unlike the cotton, harvested for its seed and fibers, the wheat is winter cattle forage. Eaten down, grown back, and eaten again, the wheat may never reach full maturity and bear its grain before its growing season ends.

For everything we plant, we need the right combination of soil and nutrients to grow. Too much or too little of any one item can have disastrous consequences. Understanding the pH balance of our soil, its N-P-K (nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium) content, moisture, and other factors help determine a plant’s efficacy. To state it simply, “You get out what you put into it.” I’m sure there’s a faith lesson in that statement somewhere.

As I thought about what God was showing me that afternoon, I realized His example was a metaphor for our lives. Like the cotton, I am maturing my life in faith to where I am producing fruit. I am preparing for the coming harvest. Like the winter wheat, young Christians are less mature in their faith. They are still growing, and given the surrounding signs, some may never reach full maturity before Christ’s return.

The lesson I learned this day is that “Whatever the season you’re in, you have value in God’s kingdom.” More mature Christians have a responsibility to share the fruits God has produced in us with others. We are to be the examples of what God can do for others to follow. God has directed us throughout the Bible on how we should serve others, with the books of Proverbs, Titus, and Timothy coming to the forefront of my mind.

I believe that younger Christians bring great value to God’s kingdom. With their energy, vitality, and strength, they can use their spiritual gift of helps in ways that benefit both older Christians and the world. Their boldness in speech and action is the fuel needed to encourage us more mature Christians to join in and help reach out to the world.

As mature Christians, one of the most important tasks God gives us is to help teach those coming after us how to best serve His kingdom. How to make sure they grow in and mature their faith. They must learn how to avoid the busyness of their lives and focus their attention on God’s will, His plan, for them. When less mature in my faith, I thought my greatest contribution was in doing it all. I tried to teach, witness, speak, disciple, worship, and be all things in the church (the body of Christ). I call that ocean boiling and have recognized the impossibility of achieving my greatest impact for God’s kingdom with that approach. It took a more mature Christian brother to help me learn that lesson many years ago.

Before someone fusses at me, let me assure you I understand that maturity is not synonymous with one’s age. I know younger people who are much wiser than many of us older folks. And I also know that, as George Bernard Shaw said “Youth is wasted on the young”, or young at heart. The important thing I want you to remember is whatever season you find yourself, you have great value in God’s kingdom and many gifts to offer in His name.

In whatever season of growth you find yourself in; have you considered how you can help others? Click To Tweet

I think the best illustration I have for this concept is this photo of my pasture. In it, you see how old and new (mature and new growth) work together to meet the need. As my summer grasses are fading away and losing their nutrition, my winter grasses are emerging. Together, old and new coexist and work together to feed my livestock. As Christians, we should remember this lesson and apply it in our churches and communities.

 

God’s blessings,

37 thoughts on “Across the Seasons

  1. Great example, J.D. I just returned from a trip to Texas to visit my husband’s relatives. We passed many fields of unharvested cotton. I watched a demonstration at a museum of how cotton fibers are spun into thread on a spinning wheel. God’s creation is amazing and miraculous and He doesn’t waste anything. I like your comment “Whatever season you are in, you have value in God’s kingdom.” We all have a purpose. Thanks for sharing your insight.

    1. Such kindness. Thank you Ms. Barbara. Did you happen to visit the Audie Murphy/Cotton Museum in Greenville, TX last week ma’am. I wish I had known (and was in town). I live only forty miles or so from there and would have certainly come to visit. Isn’t it wonderful to know that whatever stage of spiritual maturity we’re in, there’s something we can do to bring glory to God and further His kingdom. That means there’s hope for someone like me. 🙂 Of course, our growth also comes with the responsibility to help others that come after us doesn’t it? Am so glad I have wonderful folks like you who show me the way.

    1. Aww shucks. What a sweet and kind thing to say Ms. Jeanne. I sure pray I can always live up to that high station ma’am. I’m just giving back a portion of all you and others give me my friend. God’s blessings.

  2. These are fine thoughts. You’re helping me clarify that I should focus on the things that I, as an older Christian, can do better or more easily than a younger Christian, and that I should leave most of the heavy lifting to the younger guys. I should still serve eagerly, but not always in the same ways.

    1. You are so very kind Brother. Thank you! As older Christians, I think we both hope that we can help mentor, disciple, and guide the “young lions” to serve God’s kingdom more effectively than we were able to as we were learning to feel our way through the trials of this life. Our service changes, but it never diminishes my friend. God’s blessings sir.

  3. Beautiful analogy here, J.D. On my way through Alabama to Florida I pass lots of cotton fields and they always grab my attention. I enjoyed learning more about the crop and the contrast with winter wheat.

    Isn’t God’s plan for all living things marvelous?

    1. God’s plans are PERFECT my friend! Now, if I can only figure out how to understand and stay true to His plan for me. I seem to be my own worst enemy sometimes. Each day, I pray He helps me to lose just a bit more of my human nature.

  4. J.D. Always enjoy your “farming” lessons. Because I learn new things, and the analogies are so inspiring. No, I didn’t know that cotton has genes and DNA. No, I had no idea rain is a natural fertilizer. But, yes, it’s so like our Great God to work all these intricate details into nature, animals, farming, and life. Love your take on the young and mature Christian and that we help each other…how we spur one another on to good works in Christ, and grow to maturity with Christ as head. Your closing thoughts made me think of Luke 2:52, “Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.”

    1. Amen Ms. Karen. I was thinking on that same verse as I was writing this post. Our God is a gracious and patient teacher isn’t He ma’am. He’s thought of everything, long before we needed the lessons He shares. God’s blessings ma’am.

  5. Another good one! God’s lessons are right in front of our eyes, aren’t they? But you notice and share, so thank you. I love seeing the fields of cotton right down the road from my house. It’s part of my Alabama heritage. Both sets of grandparents were sharecroppers and had 7 children each to help on the farm. My parents did all they could to give us a better life, and I’m grateful. But I notice cotton fields and remember.

    1. Not surprised to learn of your farming background Ms. Dottie. It shows in your kindness and your work ethic ma’am. 🙂 Thank you so much for the great comments. God’s blessings ma’am.

    1. We may be “Young at heart” my friend; some of us (you) much younger than others, but we have the scars and bruises that bring wisdom to our words. Am so glad I can come alongside you in sharing what God is teaching us with others. Thank you so much dear friend.

  6. Oh, goodness! So much in this post touched me. From the different uses plants and people have, to the requirements new and more mature believers need. The word – if we search it out – is both milk and meat. This reminds me of one of my favorite songs, “May All Those Who Come Behind Us Find Us Faithful” by Steve Green. This blog demonstrates that prayer/song.
    As an aside about fertilizer; My young macadamia nut tree will yellow and die if I give it even a little potassium. On the other hand, my plumeria (fragrant flowers that make leis in Hawaii) thrives on a fertilizer with boosted amounts of potassium. God know just what we (I) need to grow and flower/fruit. I’m thankful He put you in my life. Your writing always challenges me. Thank you.

    1. Thank you Ms. Jackie. Great song reference there ma’am. Isn’t it wonderful how God knows just what we need, and when we need it to be applied, to achieve maximum growth as we move through the process of sanctification. What a blessing indeed! I am humbled by your comments my friend. God’s blessings.

  7. I love all your lessons, farming and biblical. I have a dear friend who I have coffee with frequently. She is a widow and a grandma, about 25 years older than me. I love her wisdom, life experience, and spiritual perspective. We have the best relationship. I love helping her with yard work or taking her to church on Wednesday nights because she doesn’t drive after dark. In return, she is a model of a godly woman for me. We have the best discussions.

    1. I hear ya Ms. Karen. My “family of faith” also includes numerous mentors that have helped me grow and become more of who I want to be in Christ. I love that you give back for the wonderful blessings you’re receiving ma’am. Thank you!

  8. More great lessons from the ranch. “Ocean-boiling” reminds me of the saying “You can’t pour from an empty cup”. Some people exhaust themselves by trying to be everything for everyone.

    1. Thanks Ms. Robin. I’ve been accused of trying to “boil the ocean” more than once my friend. After Excedrin headache number 674, I learned that I don’t have to do everything, just my part. Thanks so much for your comments ma’am. God’s blessings.

    1. Amen Ms. Melissa. As much as I think I know sometimes, I have come to accept that the older I become, then less I realize I know. My adopted dad used to make us share something we learned that day at every supper meal. When I didn’t have anything, it was off to find the dictionary and learn a new word. I am so glad God brings wonderful teachers, mentors, and friends in my life to help me learn His Word. Thank you for commenting and for being such an encouraging friend. I am blessed far more than I deserve. God’s blessings ma’am.

  9. Great lessons J.D. I will be flying over Texas in a month to get to my sister’s house in McAllen, TX, way down by the Mexican border.
    I love seeing the cotton fields near her home and their winter crops. So different from our cold winter in Ohio.

    1. So pleased you enjoyed Ms. Stephanie. Safe travels; and enjoy the warmth before that Ohio winter really sits in January. As I recall Stow is NE, which means “lake effect.” YUCK! 🙂 Be well and think warm thoughts my friend.

  10. JD – always love the faith lessons you share from the farm. In your analogy of the cotton and winter wheat, it struck me that sometimes we have to wait through a full season before our purpose is fulfilled and sometimes not. The cotton had to grow all the way to maturity, and in some things, we too will have go through the whole growth process first before our fruit will be born – maybe like a leadership or mentoring role. The winter wheat fulfills it’s purpose right away – if I understand what you said about it correctly. And sometimes we will have an immediate purpose to fulfill – no or little “maturity” needed. Maybe like responding in the moment to a God prompt. Just thoughts. Blessings friend!

    1. Wonderful Ms. Denise. I wish I could have explained that in my post as well as you just did ma’am. Thank you! 😀 Our purposes in God’s kingdom can take many forms; some require full maturity to help guide others. Some need less maturity but more vigor and nutrients. Example: The most protein is found in the blades/leaves of the wheat plant, but when the stalk arrives and the seed head forms, the leaves give up their nutrients as it moves through the stalk into the seed head. As the seed head matures, all of the plant’s nutrients are stored there. In fact, I check the maturity of the seed head by slicing open the stalk to make sure it is now hollow. Next, I squeeze the seed individually. If it’s like soft dough, then it’s ready to harvest for hay because the plant’s nutritional value is at its peak. if the seeds begins to harden, it only becomes good for grain and no longer good forage. Well said ma’am.

  11. “Whatever the season you’re in, you have value in God’s kingdom.” That’s such a powerful statement. The enemy loves to convince us that God can’t use us, but you’re exactly right. God has a purpose and a plan in every season of our lives. He’s preparing us for a great harvest, both in our own lives and in the lives of others. I pray that I will work toward the fruit He’s preparing in every season. Thanks for this encouraging post, brother.

    1. Amen sir! God can use all of us, wherever we are in Him. I didn’t realize that as a young/immature Christian many years ago and wasted many years believing I wasn’t “good enough” for God. Through His patient teaching, and wonderful teachers like you sir, I’ve learned better. When those moments of self-doubt, which as you point out so well as “Satan doubt”, creep in, I remember that I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). God made us for moments like this! 🙂

  12. I love this comment, J.D. “The important thing I want you to remember is whatever season you find yourself, you have great value in God’s kingdom and many gifts to offer in His name.” We all have something of worth to share–our gifts, talents, and testimony of what God has done in each of our lives.

    1. Aww… Thank you Ms. LuAnn. You are so right ma’am.. God can use each of us, wherever we are, and at whatever level of spiritual maturity we might be at. I’ve found in my own life that when I surrender to Him and follow His urging I find I have grown just a bit more each time. The more I surrender to His will, the easier it becomes. 🙂 God’s blessings my friend; and thank you for baking fresh bread for our friend Ms. Gerry. I could almost smell it; and picture the butter melting into the warm bread. Oh how soothing that first bite is.

    1. Thank you for your kind comments Ms. Sylvia. Am pleased that my thoughts are helpful at some level ma’am. We each have value don’t we? That’s what makes the body of Christ complete, each of us contributing as we can. God’s blessings my friend.

  13. How timely for your blog! Having just celebrated a milestone birthday, I told my sister that I was entering the “fall” season of life; hence my birthday cake was decorated with fall leaves. Your blog flashed me back to my childhood home that was only accessible after driving through a field of cotton. I know my cotton ball has a few burrs in it still, but God is picking them out one by one!

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