I love to see the seasons change. I’m a genuine four seasons kind of guy. And I’m not talking about the “seasons” they have in Arizona (hot, hotter, hottest) but a clearly defined four seasons that are profoundly different. Perhaps I appreciate the change of seasons because just as the heat and humidity of summer begins to drag on, here comes the fall with crispness and color to brighten our lives. Then, the slow and steady descent into winter ushers in the holiday season. And just about the time you feel like you can’t take one more day of snow, spring “springs” upon us. Seasons are great!
One season, summer, creates a weather phenomenon at which I have wondered over the years. During summer months quite often, a day will begin with puffy white clouds floating in an otherwise blue and sunny sky. But before too long, those puffy white clouds will disappear and then for most of the day there will be a cloudless blue sky only to be smattered once again in the evening with the reappearance of those puffy white clouds. I’m no meteorologist but it seems to me that it is a process of the effect of the sun evaporating those clouds in the morning. In any event, they quickly dissipate and seemingly just as quickly reappear in the evening.
One of my favorite Minor Prophets is Hosea. Through Hosea God is sending his message to both the northern ten tribes of Israel and the two southern tribes of Judah (the people of God were at that time split into northern and southern kingdoms). While his main target is spiritually adulterous Israel and her impending judgment of exile, at times he addresses them both. Such is the case in Hosea 6:4: “What shall I do with you, O Ephraim (another name for Israel)? What shall I do with you, O Judah? Your love is like a morning cloud, like the dew that goes early away.”
Hosea uses this as an illustration of Israel’s and Judah’s love for God… it was quickly evaporated. It is like the dew on the grass that goes quickly away on a sunny day. This of course led to all manner of failures in their spiritual history including their impending doom as a nation.
As I read this it struck me that our love for God can be like those clouds on a sunny summer morning that soon disappear. It can evaporate quickly under the hot sun of hardship, spiritual malaise, or just in the course of a busy life. It evaporates in a practical sense, rather than literal. A genuine Christian never stops “loving the Lord”. But there are times when, for various reasons, the love of many waxes cold. In reality, virtually nobody “runs hot” spiritually all the time. At times, our love tends to “evaporate” in this sense. It is during the times of “evaporation” that we are most susceptible to spiritual failure in our lives.
But however true it may be that our love can waiver, that does not alleviate what God requires of us. What God desires of us is found in Hosea 6:6, “For I desire steadfast love…” Even as God promises his “steadfast” (i.e. never changing) love, so he desires that from us. I have come to believe that while our purpose for existence is the glory of God and to enjoy him forever, the practical motivation for that is love of God and particularly our love for Christ. Everything else in our spiritual lives will more easily fall into place if we love Christ. The more we love him, the greater will be our conformity to his will for our lives (“If you love me, keep my commandments”). But when our love evaporates at times, we are susceptible to the variations of spirit that bring inconsistency and sometimes abject failure.
Thankfully, those early morning summer clouds that evaporate almost always come back in the evening. While our love can evaporate at times, the love of a genuine Christian for God will reappear. Our call is to love Jesus Christ. To know him is to love him. To know him deeper is to love him more deeply. We know him through gazing at him in Scripture, walking in sensitive communion with the Spirit, and drawing nearer and nearer to him in fellowship.
Perhaps your love for Christ has grown a tad cold. Perhaps it has evaporated like a morning cloud. The moisture and humility to reform those clouds under the right conditions, is still in the atmosphere. May the love we have for God be steadfast and impervious to evaporation. But if it has not been, it can reappear. New clouds are forming all the time. Be one of them.