It’s a pleasure to be back here again. I know this is just a website, but to me it feels more like a cozy huddle. It’s a place I come to be encouraged and I hope it is for you as well.
We need it, especially this time of year.
I don’t know about you, but the grey and cold of winter tends to seep into my spirit. The holidays are over, the chill lingers on, and we’re left to endure a graveyard-colored world till spring.
This week, I finally pulled last summer’s dried flower remains out of my garden in mournful acceptance.
As I worked, I thought about seasons.
The blossoming of spring, the growth of summer, and the harvest of fall are such bustling times of the year, full of color and life and growth. But then, come what may, the bounty screeches to a halt for three months.
We find ourselves in the dead of winter.
Seasons of the Soul
How often nature mirrors our inner landscape.
Winter is a stretching, lengthening pause. A time of death for all unessential things. Of dormancy and waiting. In a way, winter feels like the end.
Before we head into a season of new growth and fruitfulness, we might find ourselves in such a place.
Old ways of thinking don’t quite fit anymore. Our automatic thoughts feel more like residual dysfunction than truth. We can tell change is coming. Change in the way we interact with ourselves, with our families, with the world.
But maybe we don’t see the whole picture yet.
Maybe all we have is a graveyard garden. Old coping methods linger on like dried-up plants, and we know they will not serve us any further. But we are left wondering if anything good will grow to replace them.
As we are in this time of waiting, of watching parts of us become unnecessary while we wonder what is next, let us take heart. This time of letting go is making way for new growth and fruitfulness. New ways of thinking, of loving, of serving. Of following Jesus.
We can see this pattern in the book of John as Jesus tries to prepare his disciples for his approaching death, but also for the life they will be living in him.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”
Winter is not the end. It is a time of surrender and preparation. But that doesn’t make it easy.
I love the verses that follow. Jesus continues:
“If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there my servant will be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.
Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father save me from this hour?’ But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.”
Oh friends, what a beautiful template laid out for us to follow.
The cross was the ultimate winter. Jesus himself had a troubled soul in the face of God’s plan for his life. He truly understands.
But he also leads us through that feeling to the truth. Dying for us was the very reason he had come to earth.
To let a seed fall to the ground and die is counter-intuitive, even tragic. But Jesus knew there was a plan. That the winter was not a mistake. God was doing something glorious.
And so he is in us.
The winter is not the end. There is a purpose for this season: to prepare us for new growth and fruitfulness in the next. God is changing us, which is something we often pray for, but seldom like.
We, like Jesus, can move from a troubled soul to a humble surrender to our Father’s will. Those two thoughts were in the same breath. The bridge between them was the acknowledgement of God’s ultimate purpose.
Yes, change is hard. But what else are we going to do? We’ve been rescued from our sin, made righteous in God’s sight, and now he’s changing us. It’s painful and stretching and sometimes we even wish it would stop, but if we could only see the beauty and wholeness our Father is cultivating under it all. What a harvest of righteousness is being prepared in our lives.
As we find ourselves in the pause of a winter, let us, like Jesus, bring our troubled souls to our Father with a prayer of surrender on our lips.
Father, glorify your name.
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted in the nations, I will be exulted in the earth.”