If you happen to be planning a move from Southern California to a colder climate, I don’t recommend that you move in winter. But that is how God seemed to be leading us. He was clearly leading us to East Tennessee; and as it turned out, January was the timing that worked.
Now, East Tennessee is hardly like the climate I spent ten years in earlier in my life in the Chicago area, but it does have four distinct seasons; and January is dead in the middle of winter.
I left green palm trees, lush winter rye grass, and sun gleaming through the window every day. I arrived to bare trees, gray skies and frozen ground. It was a rough transition! But once I got over the shock of the cold and precipitation (I was not used to water falling from the sky in any form!), I began to appreciate the diversity of the seasons. In Bakersfield, we had a long, long summer followed by an incredibly short Fall, Winter and Spring. The trees are in full bloom every year by Valentine’s Day.
In Tennessee, we now live on the top of a heavily forested hill overlooking the city. In the winter, because the trees are bare, you can see the twinkling lights of the city at night through the knitted barrier of shadowy branches. It creates a tranquil and calming atmosphere that will be different once spring-green buds morph into full grown leaves. However, each season will have its own glory that will last about an even number of months.
Our spiritual lives have seasons as well. When we embrace those seasons for all their glory we can make the most of them and appreciate them for what is within instead of grieving the last season or being shocked that a new one is here.
What season are you in right now in your spiritual life?
Are you in a winter season where nothing perceptible is growing and you just crave the warmth of the Father? If so, it would not be reasonable to expect to produce great amounts of visible fruit. It is so necessary that roots grow deep in the winter months when the plant is not taxed with having to sustain leaves or produce fruit. You have permission to hibernate with God and go deep on an inward journey that may be unseen to others.
Maybe you are in a Fall season, bringing in the harvest. You are seeing the fruit of your labors and enjoying the feast and celebration. Embrace the fullness and don’t try to till new ground. Instead, prepare your spiritual ground for a rest. You have worked hard. We are not created to go full tilt year-round.
Be creative with your season naming. With the name come many guidelines for how to navigate the season. There are far more than four seasons to your spiritual life. The labels are endless. Ask God what season you are in. One of my seasons was “Spacious Place.” I was closing a hard chapter of my life and God showed me the verse Psalm 18:19 “He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.” In this season I knew that I had permission to choose from a buffet of options. Job 36:16 says, "He is wooing you from the jaws of distress to a spacious place free from restriction, to the comfort of your table laden with choice food.” In this season I chose things that filled and satisfied my soul. Among several other growth options I chose to start The Journey.
I recently entered another season. My last kid left for college across the country. The world calls this season “Empty Nest.” But God told me to instead call it “Quiet Nest.” See how that moves from barrenness and grief to calmness and serenity? One of my life verses is Isaiah 30:15 “In quietness and trust is your strength.” With the label of this season I have the promise of God that I will find strength. I can be quiet and calm in my spirit because I know this is a season ordained by my loving Father. I embrace the quietness as a gift and make the most of it.
Love the season you are in. Embrace it. Make the most of it. The branches will soon change color and shape and reveal new vistas of what God is doing in your life.
Questions for reflection:
- What season are you in?
- What did you gain in the last season that you want to take with you into the new one?
- How do you need to posture yourself in this current season?
- What scripture is God giving you to back the label of this season?
- What promises are there for you with this title?