We like to complain about the rain in Oregon. Spring in Oregon brings out all the best and worst that Oregon’s changing seasons have to offer. Cold and rainy, clear and very cold, warm and sunny. As we native Oregonians say, “if you don’t like the weather now, just wait 5 minutes and it will change.”
As lunch approached this day I noticed it was in warm and sunny mode so I took the opportunity to take a lunch break and go for a walk. As I wandered along the older houses north of my office I realized that there are distinct clues to the changing seasons. Smells, plant growth, shadow angles and sounds that clue me in to what time of year it is. In fact, I really believe that if I woke up from a coma and went for a walk, I would be able to tell you within a week or two what the date was. After 50 years, all these interacting smells and appearances become intuitive.
For all the complaints, I really do appreciate the fact that western Oregon has four very distinct seasons, and as such things are always changing. Spring offers a glimpse of the promise of Summer, by far my favorite season. The long warm days of Summer can’t be beat for someone like myself who enjoys being outdoors.
While I was contemplating all this I was reminded of a similar situation a couple of days earlier. I had stepped outside my house and the combination of sun, flowers and smells gave me one of those flashback moments we experience from time to time. In this case it was to a time 27 years ago; driving along in a blue Ford Escort. I had recently finished college near the top of my class but had been unable to find work in my area of study.
It was not unlike our current economy. Unemployment was over 10% and there were no signs of anything improving soon. Entry level jobs, when they did exist, were going to workers with several years of experience. With the help of a friend I eventually secured a part time courier job driving a 100+ miles a day picking up and delivering tax returns all over the Willamette Valley. Graduating with degrees in both management and technology, It was not exactly a good use of my skills. On top of that I was still living at home. You would think this would be a chapter of my life I would want to forget but as I had this flashback I found it to be a pleasant memory.
During my daily travels from office to office I listened to the radio. At 10:00 each day there was a 30 minute study about the life of Joseph. I was intrigued. Here was a guy who had every reason in the world to be down in the dumps. Sold into slavery by his own brothers, falsely accused and thrown into jail. Then forgotten by those who could, and should, have helped. And yet we never see him complaining or giving up. When opportunity arose he was prepared. Many of the lessons from that study have stuck with me to this day. Hearing another piece of Joseph’s story each day made it easier for me to keep my own situation in perspective.
Outside one of the offices on my route I watched as, first the crocus, and then the daffodils pushed their way through the soil and bloomed. By the time the cherry trees had started to flower, Luke 12:27-28 was firmly etched into my mind.
“Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith.”
As a result, I don’t recall a lot of worry or fear even though it would have been natural. There was discouragement from time to time, but I looked to Joseph’s example and did what I could to be prepared for future opportunities.
Those future opportunities eventually came. They have turned out to be a fulfilling, if totally unpredictable, journey. And who knows what the future holds? I certainly don’t. But I continue to put my faith in God because, through thick and thin, He has never failed me. Like the certainty of the changing seasons, His promises hold true.
It may wind up raining this afternoon, but I know it won’t last forever. Sunshine will soon follow. And looking even further down the road, I know summer will return; and after that cold and wet days will become only a fading memory.
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