Friday, September 18, 2015

Mid-September reflections

Tomorrow is one of my favorite holidays. In Minnesota, it is opening day of small game hunting season, grouse hunting season, and archery deer season.

I'm not a big early season hunter. Usually there are too many mosquitoes, and the leaves still on the trees make it difficult to see game. One has to weigh that against the fact that you can go into the woods without risking frostbite. There are pros and cons to everything, I guess.

Still, there's the promise of something wonderful in the air these days. Maple trees here and there are starting to go colorful, and some mornings you wake up and you can imagine it will freeze hard (take that, mosquitoes!) in the next few days. There's a smell and a feel to September days that is simply wonderful.

Julie and I took some time to go to the Boundary Waters in August. Paddling across Lake Saganaga, right on the Canadian border, I was amazed to see a slope of alders already turning yellow. Now that wave of color has come south to the Twin Cities. It's the beginning of something glorious.

It makes me think of what Paul says in Romans 8:

"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us." 

That's verse 18 according to the ESV. This translation says "to us" -- that the glory will be revealed and we will get to see it. Other translations (NIV for example) say "in us" -- that the glory will be revealed in our bodies, our character, our discipleship, and that others -- the world, maybe, or all creation if you go with the following verse -- will see it. Both are legitimate ways to translate the Greek, and both are supported elsewhere in the New Testament.

Both, I think, are true. God's glory is certainly revealed to us, whether in fall colors splashed over a curbside maple tree or answered prayer. We see it and rejoice. God's glory is also revealed through his people, especially when they suffer without striking back, when they endure trials without losing their focus on Jesus, when they live as Jesus lived. Paul points here to suffering as one of the primary places where God's glory shines through us.

It's interesting to think that the glory of September is really a glory borne of suffering. The resplendent leaves are slowly losing the life that courses through them. The smell in the air these days is at least in part the sharp tang of plant matter beginning a decay that prepares the soil and the root systems for winter. There is a death coming with the snows, but the descent into death is a great opportunity for glory.

And the promise of God is that resurrection is coming. This is one reason I love living in Minnesota. The seasons are such a clockwork witness to the good news of Jesus!