This summer I was thrilled to have found the most charming little park right in the heart of my hometown. In just a matter of minutes, this secluded and forgotten piece of land captured my heart with its babbling creek, chirping birds and the enchanting peacefulness one often finds deep in the woods. But what thrilled me most was the blackberries! Tons and tons of them! And, much to my delight, it appeared that no one was picking them! So, with basket in hand, I returned to the park over and over this summer filling my belly and my freezer with these summer-filled gems called blackberries.
Having grown up on the coast of Oregon, I have many fond memories of picking berries. Maybe the nostalgia was what drew me back to that tiny park time and again. Or maybe it was the fact that I felt calm and at peace there listening to the birds and the creek while staining my fingers deep purple and filling my basket as I picked.
However, after the last trip there, I began to see that in the solitude and quiet I was more in tune with the voice of God. And I believe that was what drew me there more than anything else.
You see, this most recent visit showed me that the blackberry season is drawing to a close. Most of the berries were either shriveled up or mushy or had never had a chance to ripen before the weather was too dry. Realizing just how short the season is, I felt amused at how fickle berries can be. Just the tiniest bit of red and the berry will be sour, but when left too long on the vine a berry will fall apart when you try to pick it. It’s as if they say, “Not ready, not ready, not ready…Now! Too late.”
This set me on a mental exploration of the various things in life that have a set span of time to embrace. There are many things that we will miss out on if we are not diligently looking and waiting for.
As I took in the creek and watched the fish play just beneath the surface of the water, my mind continued to feel the urgency of knowing the appropriate timing for things- large and small. Eighteen summers, that’s all we get before our children leave for college. Give it more time, hearts don’t heal overnight. Don’t go shopping today, you can’t afford anything until payday. Don’t push them, forgiveness is a process. Call your grandmother, her time on earth is nearly over.
And then I heard in my soul, “But not with me.”
The unspoken words stopped me and all I could do was agree. “Yes! Thank you.”
That conversation was so brief, but so profound. The time to seek God is NOW. His forgiveness and grace are always in season. Not after we’ve cleaned up our life a bit. Not after we’ve felt the pain long enough to pay penance. There’s no sin left so long that it’s past the reach of God grace, either.
Navigating life here on earth can be complicated and it does require thoughtful timing. But when it comes to God, we need to know that He is calling us to draw near to Him each and every day. No matter what is going on in our lives, He beckons us to come and be folded in His arms of unconditional love. In His presence is the only place we can find exactly what our hearts need for whatever life may bring.