Seasons of Life
by Dee Bowman

Life cannot be defined. It is–and that’s all there is to it. Oh, I’m aware that the dictionary gives a definition of life. But listen to it: “The interval of time between birth and death.” How vague.

Lots of people have said lots of things about life. Shakespeare said of it, “The web of our life is a mangled yarn.” John Ruskin said, “There is no wealth but life.” And Henry Wadsworth Longfellow succinctly said: “Lives of great men all remind us. We can make our lives sublime, And, departing, leave behind us, Footprints in the sand of time.”

But none of these really tells us much about life. Probably the most incisive statement ever made about the origin of life is the one made by Moses in Genesis 2:7. “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” After that, life is pretty much inexplicable.

Life has seasons. They’re nice. About the time one is finished, I am ready for the next. Spring is always welcomed after the long, hard winter. We look anxiously for Autumn following the hot Summer months. Winter has its adherents, too; so does Summer. But the most popular time of the year, according to my own personal survey, is Autumn.

Something I’ve noticed, though, is that life has seasons. I’m not talking about the seasons of the year now – but the seasons of life. Most everybody has his Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter, if he lives long enough.

Spring comes first. It has a lilt to it. It is blown with winds of youthful enthusiasm. It conjures up thoughts of things like emergence, adventure, and conquests. The traditional time for love’s beginnings, Spring is dominated by the sheer desire to burst forth from the cocoon and try the still damp wings; to soar the heights; to break forth from someone else’s dominance and fly alone. Youth and Spring, they soar together on gossamer wings.

Summer comes and there’s more of a feeling of belonging, a sense of having a place in life. It’s a time for work, hard work. A man is to earn his bread by the sweat of his face and that calls for Summer. Life has responsibility now, pressing down like the hot sun on a tar-paper roof. It’s demanding, bringing out the determination in us, causing us to strain against the friction, calling on us to prove our maturity.

Autumn is the beautiful time of life. Having broken free, having flown alone, man has arrived by the time Autumn comes. But Autumn is, for some, life’s trouble time. It’s a time when doubts arise, when the colors of the trees and the bite in the wind portends the coming of Winter. To reassure that they have not faded, some leave the security of love and home and make foolish grabs at youth again. They color their hair, robbing Fall of its rightful myriad of colors. Instead of settling in and being part of the view, they try to make themselves over again and in doing so succeed only in making fools of themselves. When they should be making preparations for Winter, they, like foolish grasshoppers, flitter away the days of Autumn in a stupid, ill-fated effort to retard the cold by returning to Spring. Autumn is beautiful, but ever so dangerous.

Winter may be the best time of all. Winter is hard, but what it does is make us want to go home. Home is Winter’s harbor. There’s warmth at home. A fireplace to light the face of your mate, gently smooth the wrinkles, give a warm tint to the graying hair. Yes, I know that Winter’s the time when the grim reaper comes more frequently, robbing us of our lives. But let him come. He falls into my hands when he does, for I am a Christian and he becomes my means of transferal to that better place, my eternal home. Winter is for those who love home.

Enjoy every season, my friend; life is for living. But live for God. Make him the heart of every season, and you’ll live a happy life. “Fight the good fight of faith; lay hold on eternal life...” (www.folsomchurch.com)

The Many Faces of Pride
Unknown Author

Pride is an ugly malady. Those infected are easily spotted in a crowd. Its symptoms do not affect the body so much as the mind and the behavior of the victim, though we often describe the psychological effects of pride in physiological terms. A proud man becomes “puffed up” we say. It’s not a pretty site. What’s particularly pernicious about pride is that it is often hidden to the victim, while obvious to those around him.

The Big Head. An inflated ego has a curious way of changing the look of a man. It’s not that his actual appearance changes so much as his behavior. He adopts a habit of putting himself in front all the time. He becomes skilled in the art of attracting and welcoming the attention of others. He seems to be preening, strutting, parading about, “playing the peacock” as we say. And like the peacock, he is jealous of his turf. A proud man despises nothing more than to lose the spotlight.

The Running Mouth. The proud person has trouble keeping quiet. The conversation always has a way of coming back to him—what he knows, who he knows, what he did, how he would handle the situation. And he cannot stand for the conversation to turn away from himself or to be dominated by another party. So he jumps in with clever means and renewed vigor to bring the discussion back around to himself. “That reminds of the time I…”

The “Poor Me” Syndrome. Self-pity is a form of pride, though not often identified as such. The man who boasts of his ailments and of his being neglected by others is no different than he who boasts of his abilities and his superiority over his peers. Both are self-inflated. One has exaggerated his advantages, the other his disadvantages. Both men think too much of themselves; too little of others. They suffer from a common ailment—pride.

The “Humble Me” Affectation. The proud man hates to be outdone in humility as much as in anything else. If he does a kind deed, everyone knows. If he has made a sacrifice, you can be sure there is an audience. There is no glory greater than martyrdom for the proud man—as long as it’s first-class, front-page, neon-lit martyrdom. When a man tells you how humble he is, or how humble others think he is, or goes out of his way to show you how humble he is—one gets the impression that he’s campaigning. Nothing makes me more suspicious of a man’s humility than when he tries so hard to make me think him humble. I’m more apt to think him proud.  

There are other ways in which pride shows itself. However it appears, it’s unattractive. It’s unappealing. It turns people off. It drives people away. What’s more—it is an offense to God. “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (1 Pet 5:5). The cure to pride is to learn to be a servant, to admit your own limitations, to be satisfied with how God made you, to be more interested in others than in yourself, to glory in the achievements of others, to genuinely seek their betterment rather than your own exaltation. If you’re busy thinking of others, you’ll not have so much time to be impressed with yourself.
(www.folsomchurch.com)