This week is autumn break in Copenhagen, Denmark. The sunshine of summer is a distant memory; jackets and scarves on display in shop windows are a reminder of what’s ahead. Autumn is a funny season – it’s both a bridge between two extremes (summer and winter) and a season in its own right.
The Bible tells us to know the importance of the season we are in (see Proverbs 10:5 TPT). If we do not intentionally take note of the shifting seasons in our inner world, we can become frustrated and misunderstand what God may be wanting to do in and through us.
Here’s four observations about the natural season of autumn, along with four reminders and practical tips that I pray will help you when autumn arrives in your inner world.
1. A time of transition and change
The leaves of the trees along our street are changing colour. The gradual shift from multiple hues of green to vibrant reds and oranges to golden brown is stunning. A crisp chill in the air has made its annual appearance and the amount of daylight hours is decreasing.
We also go through transition and change, don’t we? Something ends and something new begins – it can take a little while to settle into a new rhythm and routine. New studies, new jobs, a new relationship status, new life circumstances… whether good or bad, transition and change can cause overwhelm as our brain works overtime to process these new events.
Reminder: God remains the same!
“I the Lord do not change…” (Malachi 3:6a NIV)
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8 NIV)
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17 NIV)
Practical tip: Start a Gratitude Journal. Whether in a notebook or on your phone, keep an active list of things you are thankful for and a record of the miraculous ways that God has turned up in your life. This will become something you go back to and read over; your reminder of God’s unchanging faithfulness in your life.
2. A time of mystery and unknowns
The weather is unpredictable right now. The weather app tells me one thing, which is amusingly the opposite of the reality I see through my window. I’ve been caught off guard over the past couple of weeks; I have left my apartment without my rain jacket or umbrella due to some promising rays of sunshine only to be caught in a downpour of rain!
Have you ever been in a season in which you know you’re doing the right thing and have made the right decision, yet things don’t make complete sense? You don’t see the whole picture yet. You’re walking by faith. Welcome to the mystery. Welcome to the unknowns.
Reminder: God is still at work!
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 NIV)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV)
Practical tip: Do a Bible word study on the term “providence” and read through the narrative recounts of Joseph, Ruth and Esther. We often do not see what God was up to all along until the right amount of time passes. Then the light-bulb moment takes place!
3. A time of preservation and protection
People and animals start doing specific things in autumn to preserve and protect life for the winter ahead. Animals in the wild gather and store food; some species prepare their hibernation spaces. Farmers work on their autumn harvest by collecting their reserve crops.
Now, I’m not an animal or a farmer, however, I have certainly started wearing more layers and thicker fabrics recently. We are more aware of nutrition and boosting our immune systems; the health food store near my home is now promoting Vitamin D and herbal teas to keep colds away!
Likewise, during autumn seasons of the soul, it’s important to do something to build up your spiritual reserves and boost your spiritual health for the winter seasons that come our way.
Reminder: God knows what you need next!
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. (Psalm 32:8 NIV)
Practical tip: In addition to your daily Bible reading and prayer, choose to do something extra to aid your spiritual growth. Think about an area in which you want to grow or a topic about which you want to learn more. Then, find some resources and dig in – there’s no shortage of books, podcasts, websites, Bible studies, online courses, webinars, events etc. from which to choose!
4. A time of letting go and receiving comfort
Soon, the brown leaves will fall to the ground, plants will wither and decay, and temperatures will rapidly drop.
How do you navigate seasons of loss? How do you handle facing your limitations, weaknesses and imperfections? How do you process your failures and regrets? We don’t like pain – it’s painful! We ignore it. Avoid it. Deny it. Numb it.
Eventually, the pain of undealt with pain becomes more painful than the pain of dealing with pain… read that again – slowly. The Bible gives us permission to grieve and clearly shows us that the ability to mourn and to process suffering is a significant part of spiritual maturity. You need the presence and the comfort of the Holy Spirit in this season.
Reminder: God is your comforter!
All praises belong to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he is the Father of tender mercy and the God of endless comfort. He always comes alongside us to comfort us in every suffering so that we can come alongside those who are in any painful trial. We can bring them this same comfort that God has poured out upon us. And just as we experience the abundance of Christ’s own sufferings, even more of God’s comfort will cascade upon us through our union with Christ. If troubles weigh us down, that just means that we will receive even more comfort to pass on to you for your deliverance! For the comfort pouring into us empowers us to bring comfort to you. And with this comfort upholding you, you can endure victoriously the same suffering that we experience. Now our hope for you is unshakable, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings you will also share in God’s comforting strength.2 Corinthians 1:3-7 TPT
Practical tip: Take time to be by yourself and read the above Bible passage out loud. Ask God to comfort you and to help you let go of things that are not yours to carry any longer.
In summary, here’s how to recognise when autumn arrives in your inner world, and what you need to remember:
- A time of transition and change: God remains the same.
- A time of mystery and unknowns: God is still at work.
- A time of preservation and protection: God knows what you need next.
- A time of letting go and receiving comfort: God is your comforter.