It's the morning after a blizzard here in Colorado. It’s winter... not spring; not summer and not the time to do the things one does in the long day’s of summer.
So many of us simply will not embrace the ecclesiastical seasons of our lives. We are told plainly that, "There is a season for everything"...a time for this and a time for that...( Ecc. 3:1)But, many us are still trying to do everything at the same time--and I mean everything now. This leaves us breathless. This leaves us empty. This leaves us exhausted. We simply can't do everything now.
The humming birds have left Colorado. It's far too cold for them here and now. They know something that we must learn… It's not always summer.
The seasons provide a natural and God made boundary to re-think how we are 'doing' life. Winter is a season to be dormant. It's cold, so we cannot do the things we'd perhaps want and long to do in the summer. No backyard grilling. No swimming in lakes. No wearing shorts and t-shirts. Winter invites a different rhythm.
Recently, I spoke to a church leadership team where the top two pastors had both resigned in the midst of sexual scandal. There was trauma in the lives of these dear leaders. Something so big and catastrophic had happened that brought them to their knees. I've worked with this church for years and seen and witness their summers of fantastic ministry reaching out across the world with meaningful work and ministry. I've been a personal witness to the harvest of many people being impacted by this one church's work around the world. Yet, now, it was not summer. It was a blizzard of a winter. It was harsh. It felt awful.
In telling them collectively, that "You are in a winter and this is not the time to re-build quickly. It is the time to grieve. This is the time to lament." I offered them some unique ways to lament. Many of them did and it seems to have brought some balm and healing to the church family.
When we read the Scriptures, we see the people of God embracing seasons. Seasons of harvest and seasons of destruction. Perhaps, because they were tied to the earth to make their life work with food and caring for animals, they more intuitively knew what we must now embrace. Seasons cannot be denied. Something good and needed happens in every season.
I worked with a market place leader this week and shared with him, "I think you are in a vocational winter. You feel dead about your job and work right now. That's OK. This is the time to NOT take action to find the new opportunity. This is a time to learn the real and needed lessons of how to end well; finish well and dig down deep into your soul to find what is alive in you that you really want to do with your life." I told him to resist the temptation to "do something quickly." To wait for the right opportunity. To not take the first thing that came along that would pay the bills. I told him that waiting is good and patience is a virtue--these are the fruit of the winter of our lives.
But something is within us that wants to push the seasons of our lives and shorten the harsh seasons to be over--before the season has had the opportunity to do it's work in us. It seems we want to live in a perpetual springtime of cherry blossoms and daffodil beauty abounding everywhere.Marriages have winters.Companies have winters.Families experience winters.Singles have winters.Ministries, missions and churches have winters. When we pause and reflect (which is something good to do), we can see the total sense of this sacred rhythm and order of things.Many of us are in a spiritual winter.
Our churches too... our businesses also... perhaps even our country and the earth itself.But something happens in the winter that we must embrace and learn the lessons from! Winter offers us the invitation to pause more, reflect often and hole up. We can build fires and drink hot chocolate and savor the slowness of our lives. When spring offers us a rushing time. Winter offers us a still time--a time to ponder, evaluate, stir the pot of our longings and yearnings. We resist slow. We resist winter. We do not like to wait on anything. Everything must be now!
The writer of Ecclesiastes.Gerald May, the founder of Shalem Ministries and one of my favorite authors told us:
"Deer and rabbits quiet, fish and frogs and turtles nearly frozen, snakes holed up, summer birds gone away and winter birds now here, trees black and bare, seeds and cocoons and grubs and cicada larvae and everything underground, deep inside, down and in where you cannot see the life is happening. Life is rich in the time of keeping still, sap flowing, cells curing, change taking place ... Inside us all, in depths of our winters, things are going on, things we will have no clue of until spring comes, and perhaps, not even then."
and I highly recommend this book: The Lazarus Life
I used this quote to help explain what happens when we are in a spiritual tomb. Yet, some of us simply will not embrace the tomb of Lazarus. We falsely teach and preach that everyday is Easter.... and it is not. It was not for Jesus and it will not be for us. To dislike the idea of a spiritual winter is one thing...but to act as if it is always Easter is quite another.
The beauty of winter and all the seasons offers us a way to be mentored by good Earth and to embrace all the seasons of our lives and to wonder this: Where is God in the death of this winter of my life right now?
Spring will come. But, not now. Not now.
Here is a beautiful song that expresses the seasons of our lives. (Thanks, Jeremy Sparks)
What other resources could you share that have helped you embrace this spiritual truth? Your comments here will help many!