A New Season
A New Season
I love this time of year. I smelled fresh-tilled soil last week because some early gardener sensed that spring is near and, “he just had to get out and going.” I’ve been there, and I now feel antsy again to soak up spring more than ever before. Three weeks ago, we had weather down to -7 degrees with strong winds. Everything froze up. There were dangerous conditions from our area to down south in Houston. Getting past that miserable time was needed relief. But seeing a transition from snow to green, from awful weather into the joy of spring, is glorious and deeply appreciated by most of us.
Why is it that we often have to be denied a privilege that we take for granted to appreciate it ever more? I know that I ask a broad-based question, but I'm thinking of things we lose to relationships we regret causing harm to. So, I want my question to deal specifically with why can we get so spiritually dry and vulnerable during winter season? What causes this? Can we avoid it, or do we just have to tough it out?
I think it is easy to lose our bearings when we go through a winter season in our life. This is often a period of time that things like despair to spiritual lethargy comes into our thinking. We are relatively alone in our thoughts during this time, and this in itself can interrupt the intimacy with Christ that we seek. Our “religious efforts” become just that. They are good habits that turned into a spiritual deafness that rote can bring to us. Some synonyms for rote are:
“routine, repetition, automatic, learn, learning, memorization, memory, instrument, list, memorizing and repeat.”
This “automatic” process may assure us that we are plugged into the Spirit’s leadership and His wisdom. However, if there is no heart and love, only repetition, then there is less likelihood to encounter the love connection with Christ that opens things up for us.
We can keep the religious things going in our life. But our relationship with Jesus often cools when this occurs. The winter season is something that most all of us have dealt with or are currently dealing with. Nothing new. Just a season in our spiritual life, and there are four of them. But would you like to get out of winter a little quicker? I have some thoughts about it. Maybe it will help?
Last week Bryan Craig and I went to a park to spend several hours alone with God in prayer. Being at this beautiful place and with the nice weather, I felt lifted up immediately. I felt closer to that special place where the Lord speaks to me best. I needed it badly. It had been a while. Here’s what happened next.
As always before, when I take time to go for a half-day of prayer, I take out my journal to record my thoughts, scriptures and the people I wanted to pray for … all good things … that I do … almost … every day. Do I convey the rhythm in my words with where this can lead? Have I conveyed how even good things can make us spiritually deaf, if we do them as good habits instead of opportunities to love and be loved? Consider what Jesus said to the Church at Ephesus about love.
“I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name's sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.” Revelations 2:3-4 (ESV)
Note that the Lord had no complaint with regard to their commitment and works. They were busy beavers and likely had a thriving church. But Jesus was not impressed with activity, unless it is conceptualized and enabled by the Holy Spirit. Then those works are inspired by His voice, direction, and our obedience.
Last week I felt the Lord speak to my heart and say, “Put your journal down. Close your bible. Close your eyes … and listen. Listen intently. Listen deeply, paying closer attention to the hidden messages that I send you today. You will return to your journal and bible in due time. You will need to. But right now, I want you to receive My ministry to you. I want to nurture you. I want you to feel that a new season is coming that will bring joy and fruitfulness. It is in times like I want you to have right now that I prepare you for what is ahead. This is our time. Take the blessing I’m offering you.”
I did take that blessing and it was so good that I’m now trying to plan another time like it. I could not have understood how this simple time alone with God awakened me. He showed me the way to it.
My recommendation to you is to give yourself permission to take time to spend time alone with the Lord as I’ve shared … and just listen, feel and enjoy what He has invited you to. It is a surefire way to end our spiritual and seasonal winter, as our Vine Keeper prepares us for the spring growing season.