Each month, you’ll hear from one of us on what we’re reading and a little bit about the book. Enjoy!
As much as I love a perfect 72-degree sunny day, one of my favorite parts of being a Tennessee girl is enjoying the four seasons throughout the year. There’s something so distinct about each one; each season uniquely reflects our Creator and our walk with Him. That’s one of the things I most enjoyed about GraceLaced—its thoughtful reflections on elements of the physical seasons that reflect spiritual truths. That, and the beautiful art throughout!
In her book, Ruth Chou Simons invites you in with incredibly relatable meditations on seasons of the heart. As she says, “This is a book for those who wrestle with the seasons of the heart. It’s for those of us who need to remember that who we are and who He is never changes, even though everything else—including our hearts—rarely stays the same.” This is the foundation for the 32 meditations throughout the book—the idea that we’ll experience many seasons in life, change, and grow, but who God is will never change. There’s so much freedom in that truth!
Ruth begins with focusing on winter as a season to rest in God’s character saying, “God calls us to lay down our frantic striving and fears to discover what might be in store for us as we wait, trust, weep, and trust.” In hard seasons like winter, isn’t rest sometimes the hardest thing to practice? Most times in spiritual and physical winters alike, it’s easiest for me to wish the season away and yearn for warm days to come again. But in these winter meditations, Ruth reminds us “blooms are not the only way to see God’s faithfulness.” She continues, “He is actively growing you, friend, while you sow within the hard soils of affliction…God demonstrating His glory through your dependency is your real story, and He’s writing it day by day through deepening roots and newly formed buds.” What an encouraging reminder to us that God is still working even in our winter seasons of the spirit!
As Ruth moves on to spring, she paints the picture of a season for rehearsing the truth, saying, “Tender growth knows the wind and rain is yet to come, so it clings to new roots, anticipates the growth ahead, and grounds itself in what is right and true.” It’s amazing to watch what once appeared dead come to life in this season. As someone who inherited rose bushes when I bought my first home, I especially resonated with Ruth’s meditation on pruning: “Just like unruly branches, the very things that temporarily puff us up or make us seem greater than we are ultimately cause us to grow poorly. And so God lovingly removes those areas that keep us from bearing good fruit and being formed into His likeness.” Spring is a season that calls for lots of patience, allowing the old things to be stripped away to make room for new growth to become strong, healthy plants. It is a hard, but necessary season!
Next, we arrive at my second favorite season—summer—where Ruth says: “The fruit of summer sweetly proves the roots that deepen beneath in other seasons.” In so many ways, summer is an invitation to joy, but sometimes our fear and guilt keep us from taking God up on His invitation to come enjoy His presence. Ruth says it so well when she writes, “Jesus invites His own to draw near, and we believe there is joy in the presence of the Lord, our Abba Father. And yet, when we’re unsure, fearful, lacking confidence, or guilt-ridden, we stay away. His invitation to join Him is comfort and warmth waiting for us, but we don’t always come running.” Dear sisters, let us not fool ourselves and try to find our own path to God through self righteousness. Let us not stay captive to guilt. Instead, let’s rejoice that God’s forgiveness makes the path to Him clear! Let’s practice enjoying God more fully as we enter summer seasons of our own.
Finally we arrive at fall, the season of remembering God’s provision. As summer passes away, “fall finds us grateful, hopeful, and wonderfully poured out.” In other words, we find ourselves in another season of in-between, waiting for the next time of blooming. Although fall is my favorite physical season, it’s one of the hardest seasons of the heart for me to embrace. As someone who loves to always know the plan and feel in control, Ruth’s words about releasing the need to control and trusting the Lord to provide were such a sweet reminder. She beautifully says, “God makes us needy that we might find Him generous; He allows us to feel too weak to handle all the details that we might delight in His sovereignty.” To all my sweet control-freak friends out there just like me—I hope this challenges and encourages your hearts! It sure did both for mine.
The wonderful thing about GraceLaced is that, even though we’ve finished walking through the four seasons, the meditations don’t have to be read in a linear way. As in life, it’s completely okay to spend more time in some seasons than others. GraceLaced is designed in a way that you feel perfectly comfortable sitting a while with any one meditation, and Ruth weaves beautiful art and calligraphy throughout to promote those moments of really dwelling on the Word. So dive in! If you love the seasons as much as I do, you’re sure to want this for your bookshelf. 🙂
Jessica Yentzer is a digital specialist and community manager on Lifeway’s Adult Ministry team. Well-written memoirs, dark chocolate, a good running trail, and the perfect, fall day are just a few of the things that put a smile on her face. When she’s not planning editorial calendars or writing, she loves hiking and exploring the outdoors with her husband, Grant.