As readers of this occasional blog know, I live on a small farm property just northwest of Pittsburgh, PA. My “responsibility” for the property is basic maintenance of the grounds. From mid-April to mid-October, that mostly means grass cutting. For about one month beginning in mid-October, the job changes to leaf collection and disposal.
I am in that time frame of leaf collecting right now. In fact, I am listening to a CD of piano solos by George Winter entitled “Autumn” as I write this.
Equipment maintenance is always a challenge and not easy for me. But I truly enjoy keeping the property looking clean and trim. However, there is a more fundamental dilemma. When I cut the grass, the clean and trim “look” lasts five to seven days—longer as the season matures. When I collect the leaves, that “look” lasts about an hour—less if the wind is blowing. Numerous mature silver maple trees shed their leaves rapidly over 4-6 weeks. Sometimes, the repetitive collection becomes discouraging. Understandable, but frustrating for someone who likes things orderly and neat. Just the other day, I heard an old version of an instrumental entitled “Autumn Leaves” on my car radio. I remembered that Andy Williams recorded a vocal rendition in the late 1950’s. I remembered, but did not smile!
Life is not often orderly and neat. Sometimes, things stay smooth for a while. But there are always those “other times” when disorder and disarray seem the order of the day. We try hard, but cannot change the pattern or keep up. Disorder intrudes upon our lives from time to time. Disorder even affects the church and ministry.
The great truth is that God is in charge of both kinds of times. When life becomes disorderly and chaotic, when planned events come apart, when we cannot manage the unevenness of life, when patterns are disrupted, God remains steadily with us. When ministry tasks seem overwhelming and unrelenting, God is the One Who is strong and sturdy. When family matters seem unpredictable and disruptive, God does not abandon. Just today, I read the Psalmist’s words: “The Lord is my solid rock….My God is my rock.” (18:2)
A person who worked with me in the church staff ministry over many years often said to me (in times of chaos, disruption or disorder), “Just remember, the Bible says ‘and it came to PASS.’”
Leaf season will soon pass. The grounds will grow quiet for a season of winter. Then, in a few months, new leaf buds will appear. Grass will turn from brown to green. Grass cutting will resume in a more orderly fashion—maybe! Assuming the equipment does not break down, assuming the spring rains do not continue too long at one time, assuming too many huge tree branches (or trees) do not fall in winter storms, I will resume the tasks at hand. God is good then. God is good now. Life is a gift. All the time, God is good. God is good, all the time. Remember!