by Rev. Karen Helsel
Harvest...fall...changing leaves...pumpkins...all the signs of preparation for the winter hibernation. It is great to live in the Yakima Valley, where winters are usually short and mild. (Compared to winters in Indiana, I mean!)
Change is in the air, literally. The smells of ripe grapes and mint captivate the senses! The fading daylight creeps up quickly and the morning dawn comes too slowly! There is never enough time to accomplish all the tasks as the days shorten.
Life is like that...the seasons reflect our lives.
There's not enough time for everything we want and need to do. So we have to prioritize.
When Jesus began His ministry at about the age of 30, He was busy, preaching, teaching, healing and trying to be a mentor to a group of 12 very different men. He knew His time was short, and He had many things to teach the disciples.
Some lessons the disciples learned while simply watching Jesus...as He touched a leper and the sores disappeared, when He felt compassion for a widow whose only son had died...and Jesus reached out His hand and brought the boy back to life.
Other lessons were learned as the disciples freaked out on a fishing trip when a storm threatened to capsize their boat. Jesus appeared and said, "Peace be still." The waves calmed and the rain stopped. They disciples looked at one another in amazement and awe, still unsure of who Jesus really was!
As Jesus continued His ministry, He paid less attention to the Jewish traditions than He did the plight of the people around Him. Finding Himself at odds with the Jewish religious leaders, Jesus chose to concentrate His help on the needs of people, rather than on man-made religious laws. For that, the rumblings that would spell the end of His physical life on earth began.
Jesus knew His time was short and the disciples were not prepared. He knew He would die for the sins of the world, and He was risking His entire ministry on 12 mostly uneducated men.
But Jesus took the chance. He invested time, energy, love, patience and grace into these men. As they followed, they saw how He handled stress, interruptions, inconvenience, hatred, violence. They saw how He died, with forgiveness on His lips, and gasped with joy and amazement at His physical resurrection!
Think of all the experiences and changes they went through-not of their choosing. But they were in training to follow in Jesus' footsteps, sharing the good news about freedom from sin and death with others. The lessons they learned with The Master would be their foundation and their message.
What experiences make up the fabric of your life? Do you see them as positive or negative? Do you feel yourself somehow short-changed? Do you ask God "why me?"
As we follow Him carefully and closely, we will learn the answer. For He wants to take every one of our life experiences and translate them to help others find peace in Christ.
Someone can benefit from your pain...and you can reach out to help another through your own sorrow. The changes you dread may still be difficult, but will be tinged with red, orange, brown and yellow, creating a pattern of His making. Take the chance and trust Him to make sense of your life!
Rev. Karen Helsel is pastor of the Sunnyside Church of God.