I love autumn: While Southern California is most often still hot and dry in September, I have a strong enough memory of a childhood spent in Central California, where the weather started a significant shift…and of time spent in the mountains above Sonora, where the leaves started changing…and of a number of years living in Oregon, where we had to start wearing warm clothes because the cold rain began to blow in.
Aside from the weather, autumn unearths in me connections to newly sharpened pencils, to Pee-Chee folders that have not yet been customized, and to brand-new outfits for first days of school. It’s been said that there really are two new starts in each year: January and September.
So, when September rolls around, I’m ready for a fresh start. For me, it’s not just about counting down the days until the end of the year, but re-engaging my hopes and dreams; remembering words from the Lord; rehearsing all that God has done and is doing in me; and getting ready for my next steps along His path. It’s a time for a new sense of wonder and hope and faith!
In our “Pause” reading, we’ve been in Isaiah, living with God’s people, trapped in sin, contributing to an ungodly culture and facing exile and destruction, but God still gives them a choice; even years later, right before captivity, Jeremiah would prophesy two options: “See, I am setting before you the way of life and the way of death” (Jeremiah 21:8).
Regardless of how difficult the year has been so far, or even how destructive life decisions have been, God still offers us a choice, as we head into our fresh-start of this September: We can continue down the path of death, or we can choose to follow Him into life and watch Him miraculously encounter our situations with His power and love.
I want to encourage you to choose life this season in two ways:
1. Follow Jesus: Our current series is called “Follow Me” — as we learn to let Jesus lead, He will guide us into places of freedom and life, and away from death (see our other reading this week from Galatians 5). Join me on Sundays, live or online, as we learn together what it means to be a disciple.
2. Find a group: There’s great encouragement when you’re connected with others who are also following Jesus into the way of life. Our church is made up of many Small Groups, Equipping Classes, and ministry teams, and plugging into one of these will be life-giving to you. Visit our website for more information about these opportunities to Connect.
I can’t wait to see how God leads you—and all of us—as we approach Him with freshly surrendered hearts to embrace the path of life this season.
Pastor Tim Clark