Reverend Dr. William H. Curtis

Genesis 8:22

As long as the earth endures,

seedtime and harvest,

cold and heat,

summer and winter,

day and night

will never cease.

Last week, the fall season officially began. We are not too far now from the leaves changing their color and the air taking on that autumnal cool as we continue steadily towards the end of the year. Hard as it was to believe in the middle of those long, hot days, the summer of 2016 is now nothing but a memory. In such moments, as the transience of time plays to the tumbling from the branch of those colorful leaves, it can be easy to get caught up in the great impermanence of it all: as the Book of Common Prayer puts it; or as Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 1:5, “The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises.”

But, as easy as it is to see change and loss in the end of the hot summer months, there is, in fact, hidden beneath, a hint of God’s promise of eternity. The cycle of this change, after all, is permanent. “Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever,” we learn just one verse before in Ecclesiastes. Genesis 8:22 teaches us that. “As long as the earth endures,” the cycle of seasons, of life itself, will not end. And God will exist well beyond even that. God has given us the regular diversity of the seasons to at once appreciate our impermanence on earth and all the consistency of his promise of eternity in heaven. 

Every year, around this time, we know we will have the great fall harvest to look forward to. We’ll have pumpkin pie and warm apple cider. Part of God’s promise is to ensure these changes occur regularly. The harvest is always a realization of God in the Bible. In Matthew 8:37, the Lord says, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

It’s easy to see why this symbol so spoke to those who put down God’s word. The harvest is the fruit of labor, the benevolent sign of time and change. God is offering us the harvest of heaven, if we are willing to go out into the field for Him. God is offering the fruit, but we have to reach for it. We know the harvest is plentiful, but, unfortunately, few are willing to be workers. The truth is, following Christ requires work. It requires discipline and devotion throughout all the seasons of our lives. The harvest makes it all worth it, but some people just can’t hold out that long, they can’t take the long view, and so they miss out on the reward.

When we consider life from the perspective of the ultimate harvest, we can see that life is change only when we view it from our limited standpoint. From God’s angle on things, everything is eternal and consistent, and all leads towards divine reward. To Him, the seasons are just ticking seconds on the clock. But the clock remains the same, the time is always right. And it is always counting down towards the end He desires. 

We have to dedicate ourselves to attempting to look at life from this more removed, long-distance thinking. As imperfect creatures, we’ll never truly be able to comprehend all that God sees, but we can learn to take comfort in the glances we can appreciate. We can also learn to better place ourselves in His hands, confident that what is perhaps confusing in the short-term of our transience is necessary in His eternity. 

Such perspective also gives us the comfort of knowing that things must happen in their place. To repeat another verse from Ecclesiastes (3:1), “there is a time for everything.” Just as it is pointless to demand spring at the start of fall, so it is fruitless to demand a certain change in life before God is ready to deliver it. The positive development of life towards the divine and the joyful is there for all of us, if we are willing to follow His Word, but it is not for us to push things forward. God has all the perspective in this relationship. Permanence and paradise are in His hands.

Think on all this in the coming weeks as the leaves take their new color. Life is full of temporary moments and change, but God is the promise of permanence, so long as we are willing to take up His plow when we are called, and to appreciate change for all the signs it offers of God’s true infinity.