By Lynn Jones
We live in a region of marked seasons. Summer comes with its scorching middays, and winter follows with its icy mornings. Dealing with extremes is a challenge.
Some of the members of the animal kingdom are not equipped to deal with such extremes. In order to deal with fluctuations in temperature, they adopt one of two responses. They either migrate, or they hibernate.
Birds are the most famous migratory animals. Typically, from here they head to South America during our winter season and then return when the days begin lengthening and warming. Their ability to maintain their sense of direction is amazing as they travel these great distances. They arrive at the right place at the right time of the year.
Hibernation is a response adopted by some animals. The woodchuck enters into the deep sleep of hibernation during the cold winter months. During that time its heart may beat only four or five times a minute. Its body temperature drops as low as 37 degrees. It is only with the warming days of spring that its metabolic rate quickens and it emerges from under the anesthetic of hibernation sleep.
How do humans cope with such extreme conditions? While a few migrate to warmer locations in winter and then reverse the move in summer, most folks stay put. And, while we may slacken our outdoor activities during the winter, we do not hibernate. Instead, we find coping mechanisms. We put on thicker clothing and turn up the thermostat. We have an amazing ability to survive in extremes of cold and heat.
We have the same flexibility when it comes to coping with other extreme kinds of pressure. I suppose that all of us have had the desire to escape the pressure of the moment by migrating to some more pleasant place. We have all felt like the psalmist who said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest” (Ps. 55:6). On other occasions we have felt like Elijah who tried to escape the pressure by going into a cave on Mount Horeb and entering at least a temporary period of hibernation.
What God wants from us, however, is not hibernation or migration. He wants to give us the grace to cope with the extremes that we encounter in the places where we live. He offers us the reassuring words: “My grace is sufficient for thee.”
I agree with Edwin Way Teale, who wrote about animal migration and hibernation. He concluded, “My wife and I desire no migrant’s year of one continued summer and no hibernator’s year half lost in unconsciousness. We want the whole year, the year rounded with spring and summer and autumn and winter, with the variety of all its seasons.” May God bless you in the midst of all the seasons of your life!
Lynn Jones is a retired pastor who lives in Oxford. He does supply preaching for churches in his area and often serves as an interim pastor. Jones is also an author, has written two books and writes a weekly newspaper column. He may be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.