The older I get, the more I realize it is a privilege to live in a state where there are all four seasons. Here in North Carolina, we generally have three months of winter, three of spring, three of summer, and three of fall. It’s a blessing, really. That means boots and sweaters for fall, long jackets and hats for winter, light sweaters and flats for spring, and flip-flops and shorts for summer. Other parts of the country, and world, get pigeon holed into two (or even worse – ONE) of those seasons. Over the course of the year, in NC, we may see a triple digit swing in temperatures. And when the weather is feeling very bi-polar, we may see a ten to twenty degree swing in under twenty-four hours. But I love the seasons and what they represent.

God designed seasons. As the writer of Ecclesiastes says, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” (3:1). God designed the world to function in seasons. He designed the rhythms of life. He designed sowing and reaping. He designed life to flow with the ups and down cycle of seasons as they come and go. He even designed seasons in our lives.

The house where I live has oak trees that are upwards of thirty feet tall. Over the course of three decades in this house, they have withstood hurricanes, harsh winters, torrential downpours, and everything else thirty years of weather can throw at them. One of the best features of these oak trees is the shade they provide in our backyard on hot summer afternoons. And one of the seemingly worse features they have is the leaves they drop in the fall.

One afternoon in mid-July, I was walking the dogs around the neighborhood. Upon leaving our driveway and venturing into the road, I noticed the familiar sound of crunching leaves under my feet. But wait – it’s July? I didn’t think much of it, until I was walking back and noticed a few leaves falling to the ground. I took a moment to look at the driveway and noticed there were quite a few leaves that had already fallen – seemingly out of season. If I remember correctly – leaves grow in spring, hold tight in summer, and fall in, well, fall. We were mid-July, and leaves shouldn’t be falling!

As someone who loves the seasons, but has found my self in a tricky heart season, one that has had me on my knees more than ever, asking God to reveal himself more than ever, and crying out to hear his voice more than ever – I asked him, “Why are there so many leaves down in the middle of the summer?” Immediately, I heard him respond, “Because seasons can co-exist.”

I’ve lived so much of my life thinking life is black and white. Spring starts on a certain date. It’ll be hot in summer and cold in winter. That winter season stays where it belongs: in it’s neat December 21st to March 20th box.

But what if that word is true? What if seasons can co-exist? Then it would mean that a warm day in winter is ok. And a cold day in July is more than just a Dixie Chicks song. It would mean that seasons of longing can co-exist with seasons of fulfillment. It means that seasons of grief can be sprinkled with moments of joy. It means we can laugh and cry and live on the roller coaster of life knowing that God is orchestrating our coming and our going. Seasons that co-exist give God space to work in all the aspects of our lives. He isn’t in a box. He isn’t confined to my limited thinking that leaves have to fall in October and it has to snow in January for those seasons to be legitimate. Just like he isn’t scared by my heart having a day where it longs for my dreams to be fulfilled or where I have moments of laughter after I hear of the passing of a friend’s father.

Friend, seasons can co-exist. Sometimes it’s a month of joy and a month of grief. Sometimes it’s a moment of laughter and a moment of weeping. Sometimes it’s a long time of waiting and the next minute fulfillment. I can celebrate you and long for my time to come because seasons can co-exist. In the mess of life, may we remember that He’s the God of seasons. He’s sovereign. He’s working. And my heart seasons are a part of His greater plan for my life. My job is to bow my knee, submit my heart, and wait for his voice – in all seasons.