This isn’t a new or original idea. We’ve all heard the phrase in some form or another. The point being that life isn’t meant to be lived as though it was a soup pot. We can’t just dip in and find the vegetable or meat we want today and expect it to be ok.
Life really does have seasons; not only meteorological seasons but cycles in our lives that build upon the preparation of the previous cycle. What is appropriate for one season often won’t work well in another and often requires the previous season to work. We can’t have the autumnal harvest if we haven’t planted in spring and grown through summer. Similarly, the warm jackets to protect us from cool spring mornings and evenings are very uncomfortable in summer. In winter, we’d freeze without a heavier coat. Trying to live out of season is an excellent way of ensuring an uncomfortable and difficult life. That’s not exactly an area I’d like to excel in.
Spring- We’re young, impressionable, and need protection from the elements. We wear a jacket to keep us warm and protected from the cool spring rains and blasts of icy wind. We grow quickly and are “green”. We tend to be impressionable, bending in whatever direction we’re trained to grow. It’s very difficult to retrain a mature rose vine to follow a trellis when it has been “left to itself” but when it is young and tender, it is easy to tie it and send it in the best direction for strength, growth, and off the ground where disease and parasites attack.
Summer- We’re older. It’s warm and we flourish in our early training. The jacket of protection that we needed and appreciated when we were younger is stifling and smothers us. We become overheated and miserable if we’re expected to keep that jacket on during the hot languid days of summer. Summer is a bad time to plant as a general rule. Some things grow quickly and can be planted late but generally they either wither from the heat or dont’ have time to mature before the fall frosts kill all growth. We have to pick our short season crops carefully.
Autumn- We reap the harvest of our parents’ careful planting, training, and pruning and the hoeing, the faithful watering, and fertilizing of our early adult years. All of the years of work and toil are rewarded with not only the bounty of harvest but a rest as well. We have time for sharing the wisdom we’ve gleaned from our successes and failures. Our words hold weight because we’ve lived them.
Winter- Our lives do come full circle. Winter is cold but we wear the mantle of experience, love, and wisdom. We sit near the fire and share our wisdom with those in other seasons. We have a lot of time now to do some of the things that we knew weren’t priorities years before. It’s strange, those things that were so important to us during summer now seems so unnecessary now. We have so much to share. We’re dying. We know we won’t live till spring. That’s not how it works. We may make it till the end of winter. We may even become child-like again, but we know we won’t continue into another spring.
The human race is a discontent race. We want what we do not have and do not appreciate what we have. As children we want to be grown up. We want to make our own decisions. We want everything that we’re not prepared to have yet.
As young adults we often want one foot in both worlds. We want all the fun of being an adult without the responsibility of it. We want to indulge our immature sides without lasting consequences. We want the “toys” and the “trappings” of childhood with adult dollars and experiences.
In our late twenties through our thirties and into our forties, we want the privileges of retirement without putting in our time to get there.
Sometimes, between our working years and our retirement years, we suddenly dream of being a teenager again, or maybe we try to recreate our early twenties. We look and act ridiculous but we see that winter is coming and it looks so bleak and cold. We can only see what is going on with the outside of the house. We see the crackled paint, the withered trees, and the barren ground. We dont’ look inside the windows and see the warm hearth, the loving family, the wonderful memories, and the rich wisdom that feeds it all.
The elderly often either give up or try to start again If they just go back to their pre-retirement years maybe they can ignore the passing of time for just a bit longer. They miss that those working and struggling in their early adult years need their aid and wisdom- even if they don’t know it.
There is a foundational principle to the seasons of our lives. We don’t hoe what hasn’t been planted, we don’t plant what we don’t want to reap, and we don’t get to enjoy the fruits of our labors before we’ve labored for them. We grow as tender plants prayerfully protected as we mature. We then slowly blossom and bear fruit still growing but much more slowly. Eventually our colors change, we slow down, and then we wither. There is something terribly wrong if we wither in late spring or early summer. Reaping harvests too early cuts production in half and the food isn’t ripe and as full of nourishment.
Put bluntly, a woman with grown children has the time, wisdom, and patience to teach the younger women to keep house, plan menus, bear and rear children, understand the Word, love their husbands, and serve the body of Christ. Tell me how a young woman who cannot keep her own house in order has any business trying to train others how to do it? I’ve been trying to justify it for years.
Truth doesn’t change based upon experience. However, those who have lived and learned through life usually can give a wise application of that truth because of their experience. I think this is why Paul said for the older (some translations say aged) women to teach the younger. Young women, quit thinking you know it all and listen to your elders! Elder women, PLEASE teach us. Even if we don’t want to hear it. Even if we don’t like it. Even if we think we know it all. And if you really want to bless us, don’t beat us with your lessons unless we’re going to destroy our family without it.
Younger women, don’t be in such a rush to teach those younger or more inexperienced than you. If they ask, share. Don’t hide your “light” under your bushel until you’re sure it shines brightly enough but don’t go wandering the streets trying to light the whole town all by yourself either. Until your own home is in order, don’t be so eager to train others to do what you haven’t mastered. When the going gets tough, they’ll see your weaknesses and quit trying.
Don’t try to live in autumn when you haven’t invested in the work of summer. Those of you in autumn, we need to share your bounty. We’ll share with you again in winter when our harvest comes in and it’ll be richer and more plentiful because of your help.