Having lived in California for a good part of my life, I’d never experienced a true autumn season. So my first year in Michigan, I was enraptured by the stunning color of the fall trees. I collected leaves, like I collected rocks as a child. My dorm room was full of them! They were all so uniquely different that I just couldn’t help myself. I decided that fall was my absolute favorite season of all. But once I experienced a Michigan winter I realized that the glory of the fall was just a precursor to months and months of barrenness.
It was and is so bittersweet. . .
So breathtakingly beautiful and so pitifully sad! Brilliant, vibrant leaves cascading slowly to the ground, leaving only barren trees in their wake.
I’ve noticed that not just fall is bittersweet but much of life as well . . .
The first steps of a toddler. Knowing it’s the beginning of the end.
Departing an old well-loved home and setting up a new one.
The joy of adoptive parents in what they have been given and profound sorrow for the one who gave it.
Tearful goodbyes of old friends and great joy in discovering new ones.
The heart swell of pride as a child goes off to college “all grown up” and the vast emptiness they leave behind.
Such a jumble of emotions. Bittersweet.
I can’t help but wonder if Jesus experienced this same “bittersweetness” as he prepared to leave this world and go to His Father. Did he have that same mix of emotions as he looked at his disciples “all grown up” and ready to face the world? Did he ache for them, knowing the suffering they were to experience? Did He wish it away but at the same time knew it had to be? Was he excited that they were soon to receive the Holy Spirit that would empower them to do great things for the kingdom?
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere – in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him. Acts 1:8-9
Life is bittersweet there’s no getting around it . . .
The question is, what will we do with it? Will we squander it away mourning over what we don’t have? Will we allow the hurt caused by someone we love to keep us from the purpose God has called us to? Will we sit around waiting until life is only sweet and not bitter before we start living?
Or will we embrace the bitter and the sweet of life and live it to the fullest?