I love this time of year when bird migration is in full flight. While some of my favorite birds stick around all winter, like the chickadees, others start showing up with the lengthening of days even if the weather hasn’t warmed up. Robins, the springtime scouts, were showing up in February this year, even though we still had snow for much of March and April. The snow geese made their annual flight through our area early in March. I’ve seen bluebirds in the past week and have seen a mature bald eagle circling the Ranch again. And the dreadful starlings have been making their messy nests in sliding barn doors for several weeks now as well.
Our two friendly Canadian Geese have reclaimed their home on the pond and regularly announce their approach to the pond or their take off, which is usually accompanied by a noisy flight loop before heading out of sight.
I’m amazed at the regular rhythms of life that God has built into His beautiful creation, so evident in the consistency of bird migration. Spring wouldn’t be the same without the sights and sounds, and droppings, of the return of the birds.
As I watch the birds and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation, I’m also reminded that life progresses through a series of seasons, particular moments and realities that may or may not repeat in exactly the same way as life continues along. I think of the reality that my oldest daughter will only ever turn 11 once but that the three younger ones will each experience the fun of an 11th birthday in their own season and with their own perspective. Parenting is a season in itself, and it is really only understood by those who are actually in it – or at least we think we understand it until our children grow a day older and come at us with a whole new set of perspectives and lessons to be learned by them and by us.
While the “new and exciting” is often good to enjoy, I’m more and more convinced that the repeatable rhythms of life – the four seasons, birds migrating, sunrise and sunset, work and rest, even the flow of a life through the stages of birth-growth-maturity-aging-death – these are all rhythms that hold important lessons for our lives. They remind us that much of what makes life most enjoyable isn’t just the new things. Instead, much of what is most enjoyable in life is the repeated, consistent events and experiences. We celebrate birthdays. We enjoy the changing of seasons every year. We have holidays. We listen to our favorite songs over and over again. We continue to build relationships with our family and friends.
But notice that in these repeated, consistent rhythms of life, there is change (you grow a year older) . . . progress (you get better at things you practice) . . . variety and newness (today’s sunset may be just as amazing as yesterday’s sunset) . . . transformation (your relationships deepen as you focus on building the friendship). So our lives are full of migration. We repeat and build consistency into our lives, but we also are amazed by our changing (even maturing) perspectives and the transformation of our lives as we migrate back to the same realities in life again and again.
Ultimately, it is this migrating of life that opens our eyes to the reality that there is more to life than either just the same-old existence or just the new and improved. We need these rhythms of life to show us that our lives have purpose, design, and intent that has been put into our lives by our Creator. And it is when we discover purpose and design for our lives that we come to realize that God is at work in our lives through every season of life and through all the ups and downs that we face.
Ephesians 2:1-10 clarifies the design and intent God has in mind for each human life. The purpose God has for our lives involves life forever with God and life to be enjoyed right now as we do the great things God has in mind for us (Eph. 2:5,10; John 10:10). The challenges that our lives present to us cannot overcome or hinder the faithfulness of God, especially His faithfulness and love in sending His Son on our behalf (Lamentations 3:22-24; Romans 5:6-11). There is definitely more to life when we discover and live by the design and purpose God has for each of us, starting with a relationship with His Son and continuing throughout a lifetime of following Jesus (John 1:12; Ephesians 3:14-19; Colossians 2:6-7). This lifetime of following Jesus is filled with consistencies and rhythms, repeated experiences and practices (for example, Psalm 119:11 – studying God’s Word; 1 Thessalonians 5:17 – praying without ceasing), all of which migrate you closer and deeper into following and knowing your Lord.
By God’s grace, I’m glad to be living a migrating life that is centered on Jesus – a life of rhythm and consistency, of return and repetition, a life where it is good to follow Jesus step by step and day after day. I’m glad to be living a migrating life that is being renewed and refreshed as God continues to work in me – a life being transformed as I follow Jesus, a life where God forms me more and more consistently into the likeness of His Son. I certainly don’t want life to stop migrating – I don’t want to settle into one season, one state of existence, one humdrum, bland, boring existence; to settle into my current level of Christ-likeness and my current attentiveness to following closely after Jesus. I don’t want my life to stop migrating because I know that I still have much to learn and more to grow in my relationship with God. It is only through His grace and His strength that my life can continue to migrate toward God.
So while you enjoy the changing seasons and the migrating birds, consider your own life and choose to keep migrating through the rhythms and transformations that will draw you ever closer in following Jesus.