But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31
I went home for Christmas this year and was treated to the magical wish of all nostalgia-of a white Christmas as you are looking out the front window of a house in the farm country of Illinois. The snow was gently falling during the night drive home and reflected off the headlights like the leftovers of a pillow fight gone wrong. The next morning was a beauty of nature to behold. It was seven degrees outside, but I rose at dawn to brave it anyway to take some pictures of the old house covered in a blanket of fresh-fallen snow. There was not a blemish to be seen anywhere. I had only been beaten by a solitary cat that had left its trail in the snow just before I did. The early morning sun glistened off the perfect white of fresh snow, and the landscape had taken on the surreal black and white beauty of winter. The trees had a new dignity as they showed off their winter coat that the snow had painted on each barren limb. The fascination of the moment lasted about twenty minutes, and I quickly remembered the reality of the season. The cold began to bite, so I quickly sought shelter inside. Winter is a season of beauty from the inside, but cold and harsh on the outside.
Winter is a time of forced renewal. The farmer will not work in the field today; it is too cold to work outside. His grounds were plowed in the fall to expose the topsoil and mulch from the produce from last year. The snow covers the ground and will moisturize the soil to prepare it for vigorous growth next year. The ground must sit idle this season if it is to be restored. It is a forced sabbath to rest, to meditate on the course of the past, and to plan for the future.
God has given man the seasons to help us be more productive. It is His way to encourage us to be more balanced and happy with the life He has given us. There is time to plant in the spring, fertilize and weed in the summer, harvest in the fall, but sit still and plan some in the winter. Each season has a different kind of work, and each comes with a different set of emotions. There is anticipation and hope in the spring, then patient perseverance in the summer, and the joy of fruit for your labor in the fall; but all these are made possible by quiet contemplation in the winter. There is time to “consider our ways.” This is the time of year when we vow to break bad habits and make our new resolutions. God has given us a built-in reset button to refresh the direction of our lives.
Winter affords a different kind of pace, but only the inexperienced think that it is a time to waste. While there will be plenty of time to sit still in the house, so too there is ample time to get out in the barn to clean and sharpen the tools. The tractor needs the oil changed; the plows need to be polished; the thresher needs to be rebuilt. These are chores to be done during the cold months while the crops aren’t waiting. The naive will not see the value of preventative maintenance and will collide head-on with “emergencies” because he did not look ahead. The cost for correction will double, and precious time will be wasted. The best time to repair a tractor is before it breaks down. Mend the fences before the livestock get a chance to get out. Repair the gate before it falls. Clean the barn now while you can do it in leisure. The traditional Jew began his day at sunset. There is much wisdom in understanding that the quality of the night will greatly influence the quality of the day. So, each new year begins with the winter, and the quality of the production in this season will greatly determine the bounty of the harvest. It is a time to charge our batteries for the tasks that lie ahead. Winter is the time to look over the barn, look for weaknesses, and discover problems before they happen. It is time to be extremely vigilant and pay special attention-to-detail. You’ll get far more done in the future if you do.
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Jim Carey was the first staff member hired by Pastor Trieber in 1976. For over 40 years, he has served in many capacities. He has taught in the Christian school since its inception and has taught junior church every Sunday for that entire time as well.