Though we still did not receive the amount the weather reporters guaranteed us was coming (this cartoon gave me a good chuckle), we still received quite a wallop here in Indiana. Ice fell to the south knocking out power lines, and up north they did receive enough snow to warrant the word blizzard. Here it was more a mixture of sleet and snow, causing the shoveling to be more like an ice chunk toss than the standard piling of fluff. Canceled classes and church activities have created a quiet respite and, for me, an opportunity to see something I would not ordinarily have noticed.
What caught my attention amidst the weather was not the amounts of snow, but something incongruous to it. I saw a flock of robins. Their bright orange breasts against the white was pretty in its contrast, but my mind just saw contrast. It protested, “Robins do not belong in the snow!” Well, maybe there could be robins in some freakish spring snow. I remember Miriam making a backyard snowman on April 24th one year, then giving birth to our fourth born the very next day. I’m sure robins were about then. But robins in the middle of winter?
This scene brought to mind the Biblical phrase “out of season” from II Timothy 4:2. This text says we are to preach the word “in season” – when it’s desirable, when people are asking for it, when they are as ripe as summer fruit. Yet we are also to preach it “out of season” – when people could care less, when it looks hopeless, when hearts appear to be cold, wintry and dead.
Do other preachers sense what I do, that most of the time whether preaching the gospel privately or publicly it feels out of season? So what do we do? Hunters talk about their game, whether deer or duck, as being “in season.” They can only shoot at their favorite targets when the authorities deem it the proper time. Yet when it comes to shooting gospel arrows, the Authority above all others commands that even out of season is in season. Certainly we must use tact, choose words carefully, and wait for opportune times, but above all else we must preach the word. Matthew Henry says, “Do it out of season, even when there is not that apparent probability of fastening something upon them, because thou dost not know but the Spirit of God may fasten upon them.”
And, yes, I’m well aware hunting metaphors are “out of season” currently. So is preaching the gospel and having flocks of converts. Yet let’s just say some little birds told me to keep doing the former and keep hoping for the latter.