AUTHOR’S NOTE: This one was written in September, but makes it’s debut in Summer about Winter…go figure!
It is not quite time to look outside for landscape inspiration in describing the title. It is but mid-September, the leaves have barely begun to change following one of the Midwest’s mildest summers in my memory bank anyway. Though we go through a winter each year we live, I find it difficult to spend too much mental energy on deep frost and ice-infested trees when it is sunny and 80 degrees! While we all have our winter memories (at least those of us north of certain latitude points!) of blizzards, playing in deep snow with friends/family, and the beauty of frost perfectly outlining the trees…it takes a certain mental effort to relive those moments on a sunny day. I hear some complain of winter coming at all before it even starts!
I am one to take ten below over forty and raining any day! Wet and cold should be outlawed. I have imagined a second story deck over the one end of our house since we bought it. I want an enclosed room to enable us to enjoy the view of all the weather, all year long. The place I work owns the adjoining property and has woods/pond/etc….a nice view from the back porch in the warm months. In the winter, a little tough! I think He wired us to enjoy everything as it is. My dream is still alive for an upper room to watch the winter days! HQ is getting closer to agreement if the deck connects to the porch and the pool! The main point here is that we honestly miss the bird’s eye view of winter’s awesomeness! In reading through this, keep your mental imagery of a majestic winter handy for reference.
Regardless of where you live, there are seasonal differences in the winter season. Natural processes created by the Creator that sustain new life in the spring. Dormancy serves a most important function to bring death and resurrection to green life. While it may be difficult to stay awake late in the evening, watching one of the nature documentaries about the coming of winter in a land far North does grab my imagination with wonder. So many processes go on without human hands! Is it not so much like Him to bring life from death? Aren’t the winter processes so much like the human ones? I am certain I will only scratch the surface of these concepts, but I can’t help but see their relationships.
It is my contention that we are to stay in the process we are in until He finishes it. We must do our co-laboring and not be stagnant…that is true. If the ‘door of spring’ ain’t open yet, whatcha gonna do? You best stay in Him in winter! A question just came to me, perhaps someone else will have wondered it too before this point even…what is the difference between winter and wilderness? I may trip over the answer at first, but I give you an initial stab anyway. I can say with certainty I have been in the depths of both winter and wilderness. I view wilderness as an all-out time of testing and weighing our hearts…a time appointed by the Lord…maybe only a one time life event. With winter, it has its’ place in each round. The process stays the same…the leaves fall off/plants die out…the deep freeze comes…giving birth to fresh seeds of life in the warm months.
When you are in wilderness, you are searching for any sign of a daggone season…that I found out for sure. The seasons are natural, and during wilderness we wander around seeking a normal. For me, it was His way of forcing me out of the normal rut to seek Him deeper. I truly believe that some get hung up on philosophy and theology in ‘the deeper’. If two people are wanting to date each other, don’t they spend quality time together? Let’s say the guy reads all her Facebook stuff and reads up on everything he can get ahold of about her. He talks to all sorts of other people about what she likes and dislikes, her habits, and her whole life. If the guy now comes to the girl and says “I feel like I know you now”, would that qualify as a relationship? I doubt the girl now feels like she is in a relationship when the two have not spent any quality time together!
God wants relationship with us above all else, and a deeper one. Many people know about God as if quoting an encyclopedia unfortunately. Most unbelievers I have come across aren’t looking for an ‘I know’ attitude, just love and acceptance to lead them to God. The depth of our relationship with God helps us with each season of life. I would have given a lot to know 25 years ago what I know now. He is a wonderfully deep mystery, and if our heart is to know Him, He will share some of that mystery with His creation! He shows us contentment for each season of our walk. If we know Him, we know when to move forward and how to get answers in prayer.
In every natural process does winter not lead to life? The seeds came from plants that died in order to release them. In each believers walk, there will be times we need to allow some plants (and weeds) to die for a new birthing…for fresh seeds to enter the soil. He is gracious enough to harvest some weeds with ‘our best at the moment’. I wonder if He has to push through from where we are at sometimes. He knows the process must continue. Do we not (deep) in our spirits know what causes the weeds? Not just the sins we commit…the mouth always has something to say…and our compartmentalized hearts have areas in need of bright light! I know these fingertips are much fuller of grace than my mouth in the moment is. The past four paragraphs cover a 45 minute span, which kept my tongue put away!!
The Word says that the power of life and death are in the tongue. In the last year He has literally shown me how important that is. When I get upset at work with ‘the man’ and start in…the power of life is fleeting. I notice a shift in my attitude when I speak that about others and over myself. When we speak about others as if they are not there, we do just that…invite the power of death. We had opportunity to speak life over it and did what most of us do, let the darker parts of our heart come out. I speak not of heart and tongue issues because I have stumbled down the rabbit trail, but because they are the weeds that need to die in winter. Unlike the natural process, the same weeds return in the spring until we repent and renew. I know I have that burning need at times to have an enemy! We like reasons for things being wrong, and being able to assign them to another person/people is even better!
Is life ‘falling apart at the seams’ or is He bringing you down where you need to be? He needs you in a place of His choosing. There are times and seasons when we struggle to follow Him, holding onto control, sin entanglements, and myriads of issues that hold us back from His perfect will. Even in these moments we sometimes dare ask Him what’s wrong! The Holy Spirit is so important in hearing what is good reduction and what is us in the way. The Holy Spirit does not lead us anywhere we don’t need to go. My biggest blessings of life came after the hard seasons were in the books. I confess that I added fuel to a self-inflicted fire at times, but after smoke and flame He came! He shows us life on our own terms, guiding to His pathway without being able to lean on our own understanding. This is the entirety of the conceptual winter, not being led by our own anxiousness/pushing, but alone in His leading. He wants us to confess it was Him alone who built it and brought it to be.
If you’ve traveled outside your town at all, you’ve noticed the different paces of life people live. There are different levels here in America from the country, to small town, small city, and big city. Traveling to other cultures/countries we further notice the differences of pace and lifestyle. Staying in winter is harder in some cultures/cities, this I have noticed over time. God wants our main influence to be in deep relationship with Him alone. This has zero to do with your church, family, and other factors. You must work through those in getting to His rest, but not be held back by them. If something catastrophic were to take place and you could not leave your house, would it change your relationship with Him? The lack of fellowship issues aside, what you truly have is that prayer closet time with Him each day. Your quiet time should be your most coveted treasure. These essential times carry you during good times and harder ones. It is similar to what Paul says about learning contentment with little or much!
I am utterly dependent to do my writing. Regardless of reasons why, I have to go with the flow of the Spirit or these letters on the keyboard are not bouncing! One of the best prayers for ourselves is to experience a winter and a wilderness to shape a better journey forward. After Jesus received his water baptism where did he go right away? He went to 40 days of temptation/wilderness. Perhaps it was so we wouldn’t have to go through quite what the Israelites went through. He always seemed to be improving the process of grace. If you’ve ever been in the wilderness spiritually, you may sign up for only 40 days…I would have!! The Spirit must lead everything in our lives. He will always lead, but how well do we follow? We naturally fight winter and wilderness, that is not what our culture encourages. It goes against the ‘pull yourself up by…’ that has been so engrained in our psyche.
A rogue agent roams the pathways with us mercilessly taking and never giving more. It presses us into service like slaves with no say, and has us making snap judgments before prepared. Our memories are the vapors of its proof of existence! Without those memories it would be like trying to prove the wind to a blind person inside a house. This trait-less agent we all know…it is the great undefeated master over our daily lives…it is time. Time is purely undefeated. ESPN has cycled around a phrase “time is undefeated” in referring to athletes getting older and battling injuries. The only entity higher than time itself is of course the Lord. In spite of hundreds of attempts at time machine concepts in movies, books, and games…time walks away with not so much as a scratch.
The importance of time and winter is how well it is woven together. In the natural, what usually happens to plants that bloom before the last few snows of the season? If we have a few frosts and snows to go, they may not make it at all. God prepares each season for us, and we do NOT have the spiritual right to move ahead of Him before He gives you the ok. It might drive you half-crazy waiting until the right moment, but He always has reasons to keep you safe under His wings for the set time. Our relationship to God is in many ways judged according to…you guessed it…time. We are not free agent athletes looking for the best $ deal! God fired our agents because they were mouthy and getting in His way! We must not only bloom where we are planted, but be diligent to wait for the seeds to come out of the dead plant to get the cycle started again for ‘the next season’.
I find myself the least desirable when I am blown away by time. Humans in today’s world have far too many things pushed onto our overflowing plates! It is important for us to ask Holy Spirit often to help us in making the little decisions that add up to the bigger decisions. When I get overran with responsibilities and take on more than I am supposed to, I can go into an automatic mode that just orders things (but in the flesh). It helps when we see that coming to pray “Holy Spirit help me with this process”! It is easy for us to forget that we work for the Highest Power in the known universe. He is above humanity, time, and all physical existence. He already knows it all. That is worthy of repeating…He already knows it ALL! He wants all our praise, honor, and gratitude besides. Though we are so small in the scheme of things, He personalizes life for each one of us. Across billions of people no two are truly the same. To close, a phrase He shared in my spirit that often helps me untangle…”He doesn’t change, but we always should”.