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02 May, 2013

Two Seasons . . . .

We were told when we first moved to Africa there are basically two seasons in the year here, wet season and dry season. And true enough, there are months when it rains a lot and months where it rains less. They were right that flowers bloom through them all and a vegetable garden will produce all year. But even so, there are two distinct seasons.

My personal experience is also summed up in two seasons. Our lives seem to cycle between the two seasons of Lent and Advent. Sorrow and anticipation cycle through with great regularity, each one following the other. Sometimes I let them get all mixed up and then neither season can produce the fruit intended in my life.

Sorrow shows up like an unexpected thunderstorm in dry season, showering me with heaviness and pain. I know that entering into the sorrow is what brings joy on the other side, but when the billows of grief seem to never end and continue to build day after day it is hard to desire to lean into the storm and forge on ahead. I don’t expect Lent to show up when I am eagerly anticipating someone’s arrival, or some happy event or some long felt desire to be fulfilled. But Lent storms in nonetheless, unbidden but with the purpose of refining and cleansing and fulfilling God’s purpose.

Loss brings sorrow and catapults me into Lent. Co-workers departing for their Home Ministry Assignments, experiencing the effects of sin in our world, witnessing an unforgiving spirit, death of loved ones, broken relationships and so many other losses keep the season of Lent lashing its effects much longer than I want. Can’t I just hurry up and get to the next season?

I like Advent. I enter that season with deep gratitude and a sigh of relief. It is refreshing when it comes. I love anticipating good things coming! Currently I am looking forward to our son’s arrival here. He is coming in just two months! I get so excited when I let my mind carry me forward to seeing him walk out of customs at the airport, getting to give him a big hug, having time to talk without fearing the internet connection will drop off, etc. Ahh, so eager to get there.

But that isn’t the only thing I have to anticipate. I celebrate the Advent of Jesus into lives of people I know. I have such fun hearing testimonies from my Ugandan women friends who freely share how God is working in their hearts, how others are telling them they can see a difference in them. I look forward to the singing and dancing in worship on Sunday mornings in church (though I get tempted to let the LOUD volume send me tumbling into Lent). I prepare for the arrival of Jesus into hearts of those for whom I am praying. I pray with celebration, claiming Jesus’ victory over sin and death to bring victory over evil spirits in local communities here.

Advent gets me through Lent. Looking forward to Jesus’ return and being in heaven is my lifeboat in the deepest sorrow. Christ is coming again and He is redeeming all of creation to Himself and He will fully accomplish His purpose. These truths shine hope and joy into the darkest of griefs and help me enter the sorrow of Lent, knowing that true enough, life will bloom and I will grow and be all that Christ intends me to be. His best is both seasons, working together to bring the best fruit.

Two seasons aren’t so bad…the cycle brings life and hope and joy in the morning.


Di Murphy said...

So part of what I hear is that Christian missionaries aren't ALWAYS skipping along, happy as you go. Thanks, Christine, for sharing the challenges as well as the joys. I've lived long enough and known enough missionaries and others who walk with Jesus to appreciate the seasons of Lent and Advent. I'm grateful that you share the feelings you experience in both. That encourages my heart for the journey. Di

Anonymous said...

Love you, Christine!