June 14, 2006

R & R With God

May 18, 2006
Sometimes in life it is good to get away and have a change of scenery, or just go off by yourself for some solitude.
My wife, Marie, and I enjoy a little lake (Shelly Lake) in Manistee National Forest near Brohman, Michigan. We have found rest and revitalization, and have made some fond memories from our trips to this National Forest Service campground. We have camped here during cold times and hot, and have survived thunderstorms and humid afternoons. Here we have seen the seasons change from summer to fall, and from fall to spring. This particular trip occurred in spring. We arrived during the obnoxious frog-mating season, and before we left we knew that spring was here. How so? We saw a pair of geese with their five goslings, and a juvenile muskrat eating near an older one that we assumed was its parent. The trees had even changed since the last time we were there, their leaves returning from their winter slumber.
1517 page16I began thinking in spiritual terms, and with a quick survey of the Bible noticed a few texts that show God is in the business of change. I began in Genesis 1:14, in which it says that God appointed the celestial bodies we know as the sun and moon to function as season indicators. This shows that even in a perfect world God wants change and variety (see Revelation 22:2 for an indicator that there will be months in the earth made new). I then went on to Genesis 8:22 and saw that God told Noah that the seasons were going to be vastly different after the Flood: there would be extremes of hot and cold. However, even though there are storms and other extreme forces of nature, God gave Noah the promise of the rainbow in chapter 9. In essence He said that though there are going to be harsher seasons, “I am still there, as I promised.”       
According to the Jews, there were four turning points in the year, which is what the word for “season” stood for (Hebrew tequpha means “circle”). These seasons were seen as being ultimately controlled by God in Deuteronomy 11:14-17. It is also here that the seasons are referred to briefly and in the following order:
            Autumn—time of the early rain/plowing/sowing
            Winter—heavy rains/latter rain, which matures the crops
            Spring—harvest/green grass/flowers
            Summer—hot (May-October) and no rain
It’s nice to know that God is ultimately in control of nature, but what about the personal problems I face in my life? What about mistakes I have made, or the difficulties I face? What if the world seems dry and harsh like a desert? My answer came in Joel 2:23-27, which says that God has given the former and latter rain to restore what had been lost during the harsh moments Israel experienced. The text goes on to say that the Holy Spirit would be poured out on God’s people and was, thus, the instrument of this restoration.
I believe this is the key to facing changes and struggles in our lives. We need the presence of God through His indwelling Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit lets us know what is right and wrong. The Holy Spirit brings us comfort in harsh times, and helps us know that God is “in the midst of Israel, and that [He is] the Lord [our] God, and none else” so that we shall never be ashamed (verse 27, KJV). In other words, though hardships and trials come our way and though we may be experiencing a “dry” time in our lives, in which we wonder if God is there, God says: “Wait, dear child, because the seasons will change.” This is good news for all of us. And I am amazed that most of these nuggets came as a result of one camping trip! I had left home wanting to get away from stress/studies, and then realized that I was being taught once again from God through nature and His Word!
Now a new semester has begun, which brings more homework and changes. However, I will try to remember that God is ultimately in control of school, just as He is in control of the seasons changing in nature!
Murray Miller is studying at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary in Berrien Springs, Michigan, under the sponsorship of the Kansas-Nebraska Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. He and his wife, Marie, enjoy having outdoor adventures that teach them about God. To visit Murray’s blog site, click here.