It is October in Maine and the leaves are falling, reaching their peak color soon in the north. As I go over my list of all the myriad tasks that need to be accomplished before winter, I am still amazed at how much more there is to do before the heavy snows arrive. It seems when one is checked off, more are revealed.
This winterizing process all begins anew when the ground finally thaws in May. However, this particular year was different having taken off the month of May to drive across the country to Steps to Life camp meeting. What an adventure and a blessing it was to meet the staff and hear the wonderful sermons. Relatives and friends that we had not seen in years were visited along the way, making our trip all the more memorable.
Although short a month preparing for the coming winter, we knew God would make up the time we missed if we were diligent workers. The first job on arrival home was the grass that appeared unattended and unloved. Nothing looked like it did when we left.
We got busy, there was lots to do before the first snows in November or December. Wood would be needed. Fortunately, we have a lumber company on a nearby road where remnants of hardwood can be bought in huge quantities at a small cost to be stacked high in the garage. We were thankful for the leftover wood from the previous year for our old wood stove, which would see us through another winter. We then also had to purchase a couple of tons of wood pellets, making room for them too in our small garage. Then there were always the little jobs to do – places to seal, like lower basement windows, as the thawing snows of winter begin to melt, trying to drip inside the basement walls. In August each year, I begin to gather kindling of the many fallen limbs along forest roadsides, collecting only the limbs that break easily and are seasoned. This task takes a number of hours on days when weather permits. I do enjoy this quiet task out in nature, parking here and there along country roads on the fringes of the deep woods. In between all of these tasks, I trimmed rose bushes and mulched them for our neighbors, along with cutting back a very large bush in front of their house, so they could see more of their property. I took out toys and an old bird’s nest at the base and much dead wood and mulched the bush, in anticipation of a beautiful blooming tree in the Spring. Our neighbors emailed stating their appreciation. For busy, working young parents with two small children and one on the way there is not a lot of time left for yard work. This was how we could witness to them in a way that we had been unable to do thus far. Winterizing and waterproofing are huge jobs in these colder climates. While the days become shorter and the cold Fall winds begin to blow in this little town in the woods, there are cracks and holes to be filled and painted with so many other daily tasks to accomplish.
I was reminded during this process of how much more we should be winterizing our souls, taking time out every day, not just to prepare our surroundings, our properties, our car(s) for the coming winter, but for the winter of our souls, for those trying times just ahead. We need to be fortifying our minds and perfecting our characters with the truth of God’s word. We should be always striving to help others to spiritually prepare for what is surely to be soon, our last winter on earth. We are assured by the Scriptures that after the last trying days of earth’s history, eternal Spring will arrive, and we will be in the Kingdom. But are we ready spiritually to withstand the last winter of this world?
For a couple of weeks last winter, we had a big thaw, and although the snowstorms had left very high snows before that, not much of it was left when another blizzard was forecasted to arrive in early March. I went out to check the grounds of our house almost in disbelief that another blizzard was predicted for that night. We had been feeling quite complacent before this weather forecast, believing we would have an early Spring and the sudden mild temperatures we had experienced were a sure sign. But this huge wake-up blizzard came with a fury.
In many parts of the United States and around the world, unpredictable weather is arriving with storms, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes to shake it up. God is trying to get our attention. We are told that “the last movements will be rapid” (Testimonies, vol. 9, 11), and as we live on this planet, with every passing day, we realize what a short time is left for us to bring our lives into line for our own salvation, as well as making every attempt to insure the salvation of others. We should not be fooled by the lulls in current events, or that we have more and more time to get ready for Jesus to come. Life is fragile for all, young and old and none know how much time we have left. Grasp every precious hour, holding on to possibly our last earthly moments with Jesus.
When I was about three years old, we lived in a little house in the woods in Southern Maryland. One day a repair man came to our house and while he was fixing the appliance, my mother began to witness to him. He responded by saying he was young, that he had plenty of time to make up his mind about spiritual matters. A couple of weeks later she heard that he had been killed in an accident. Sometimes lives are cut short in an instant, and I must always ask myself if this should happen – am I ready to meet Jesus at that very moment? This may have been the first, and yet the last chance for this young man to know Jesus.
Are we ready to stand in times of great trial? Very soon now Christians will be tested in courts of law concerning their beliefs.
As the December snows begin anew, I question, am I ready, no matter the adversity, to stand up for Jesus during earth’s last winter? If not now, when? When can I say I am so close to the kingdom that it will be a natural transition from this life to life everlasting? For every great event in life, it seems the only way to meet it is to prepare, prepare, prepare – and although we may never feel good enough, or worthy enough – we can grow more and more like Jesus, every day becoming new in Christ. This is surely how Enoch was able to be like Jesus. By beholding Him, Enoch was changed, and God just took him. Isn’t this the heavenly goal we should hold so dear to our hearts? Are we the person we think we are? Are we careful to take a daily inventory of our hearts, watching, praying, and studying the scriptures to become more like Jesus?
“This earth is the place of preparation for heaven. The time spent here is the Christian’s winter. Here the chilly winds of affliction blow upon us, and the waves of trouble roll against us. But in the near future, when Christ comes, sorrow and sighing will be forever ended. Then will be the Christian’s summer. All trials will be over, and there will be no more sickness or death. ‘God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away’ (Revelation 21:4).” The Upward Look, 311.
Sorrow and sighing forever ended – then will be the Christian’s summer.