I love fall. It’s one of my favorite seasons...although to be fair, I pretty much like them all. The crisp quietness of winter. The verdant new life of spring. The embarrassing riches and playfulness of summer. I mean, how do you pick?
But there’s something about fall that I really enjoy. It feels like life starts to mercifully slow down as the days shorten. The trees become simply glorious. And the holidays...and the FOOD!...are imminent.
But there’s also something about the fall that makes me sad. As much as I love the splendor of autumn, I hate watching the slow death of everything I’ve come to love over the spring and summer. It’s not quite the beginning of Seasonal Affective Disorder...but it does make me sad as the colors fade and the world descends into drabness.
This year, though, the thing that’s kept me looking out the window is the deer.
All spring and summer, they’ve paraded through our backyard nearly every day. Sometimes one or two, and sometimes a whole herd, but they’ve been regular visitors over the last six months and they’ve brought my wife and me such joy.
We got to see the baby fawns mere weeks after they were born, hiding in the grass and not much larger than a barn cat.
We got to watch the proud, but understandably nervous, mamas parade their spotted little ones through the deeper grass of April and May.
And now that fall has come, I’ve gotten to witness the rut for the first time in my life. We’ve seen a couple young 6-point bucks and one massive 8-point on their desperate quest for...love?
But seriously, it’s been a blast to have this drama play out just outside our windows, and I find myself looking out every window I pass throughout the day in the hopes of spying our furry neighbors.
Which brings me to three weeks ago. It was one of the sad mornings...both the sadness of fading colors and the sadness of another coming holiday season without the family Brooke and I so desperately crave.
I didn’t know what I needed, but I knew I needed something. And so in the stillness of the early morning, I quietly turned my heart to God and asked Him to help me understand what I needed.
The words that came to mind were unsurprisingly spot-on…
You need it, Jon. Your heart will die without it. It’s like oxygen for your heart. Deny yourself hope and you’re effectively smothering your heart.
I knew it was true...and yet I just didn’t want to go there. So instead I looked out the window again, hoping for something much less valuable, but far more tangible...the distraction of my deer.
But God wasn’t going to be so easily dismissed. Intruding into my lesser hope, He kindly pointed out how willingly I look out the windows each day in the hopes of seeing just one doe cross our lot.
I didn't really want to answer, but the truth rose up unbidden.
Because you know if you look often enough, you'll see one. And you know that watching them brings you joy. And so you hope for the thing...and hope to see the thing...that you know will bring you joy.
And in the very next moment, I was yet again reminded why this is the God I love.
I kid you not, at that exact moment a doe comes RUNNING into our backyard. She stops on a dime, sides heaving, and looks back the way she had just come.
And I knew.
There must be a buck!
As fast as she had run to the back of our house, I raced to the front and peeked around the edge of the living room window. And there he was.
A big 6-point, standing 20 yards from my front door, was eyeballing six different does scattered around the lawn. And over the next ten minutes, I watched his fruitless chase of first one, then another...back and forth across the yard.
And I laughed. And laughed. And laughed.
It was pure joy.
And it was such a kind gift from the God I love.
And I felt hope reawaken.
Because a thing that I had been hoping for...a thing I wait for patiently, day after day...a thing I have no control over...was suddenly dropped in my lap.
And that seemingly small gift was, even more importantly, yet another in a countless series of reminders why I can keep hoping for the bigger things. Because the God that I love is good. And not just when He gives me what I want. But because He gives me the things I need...the things that keep drawing me back to Him.
And so I can muster the courage once more to hope for the thing I deeply desire. The thing we’ve been patiently waiting for, day after day. The thing we have no control over.
And when that day comes...pure joy, my friends!
And so I wish joy, hope, and thankfulness for each of you that are part of our Strong Towers community this Thanksgiving week.