“Is this one ready?” My five-year-old holds up a ripe strawberry and waits for my approval. At my nod, he deposits it gently into his white plastic pail and continues down the row. Mud squelches beneath his green rainboots as he peers beneath the leafy blossoms for more red berries.
I glance at the little card I was handed as we drove into the strawberry patch advertising that strawberries and cherries are available until June, followed by peaches mid-summer, blackberries in late summer, and apples and pumpkins in the fall.
Each fruit has its peak season. One is not better than the other, and each serves its own purposes in its season. Today we’ll enjoy strawberries and homemade strawberry ice cream and go home to make delicious strawberry treats. Later this summer, we’ll enjoy fresh peach slushies, and in the fall, we’ll pick pumpkins to carve.
God chooses what to highlight in each season. Others will bloom in their own time. This time of year also brings about natural transitions in our lives, from graduations, to weddings, births, new jobs, or new homes. Life happens in seasons, whether we are ready or not. While we might want to stay complacent in our comfort zones, we need to be ready and willing to pivot when God calls us out of one season and into the next. We know from Ecclesiastes that, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, NIV).
Sometimes when God calls us to something, we hesitate. We wonder if it is our own selfish ambition or if it’s God’s unique calling on our hearts. Maybe we overthink what it is God is calling us to do. We doubt that it is the right season or think we are not ready to step into something new. We think the commitment is permanent, when it could just be that God needs us there for a season, for purposes only He knows.
I’ll admit these transitions have become more difficult for me as I’ve gotten older. In college, I was primed to go when God said go. I served on mission trips, stepped forward to serve on leadership teams, spent entire seasons sharing God’s love at summer camps, and left one thing to go to the next at His smallest prompting. Now I wrestle in indecision, stuck in my own fears and self-doubts, even as I know that not making a decision is, in fact, a decision.
Two verses in scripture I often return to have helped me pray over changing seasons and have encouraged me to step into God’s calling even when I didn’t feel ready:
“But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind” (James 1:6, NIV).
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, NIV).
These are the scriptures I’m reflecting on as I stand there in the muddy strawberry patch.
My son interrupts my thoughts, holding up a strawberry with little bumps jutting out in every direction, each one freckled with seeds. “Is this one ready?” he giggled, delighted with his find.
“It’s ready,” I tell him, “just the way it is.”
Accepting my answer, he drops it into his pail and hurries to catch up to his big brothers.
Written by Ashley Bartley
Ashley Bartley, M.Ed., NCC, is a National Board Certified Counselor, author, and curriculum writer. Her children’s books are part of a social emotional learning children’s book series published by Boys Town Press. Her writing has also been published in The Joyful Life Magazine and on the Kindred Mom blog. She lives in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with her husband and three young boys.