This past Sunday morning, the last Sunday in April, we woke up to a spring snow covering ground here in Western NY. It wasn’t totally covered though. We could still see deep green grass poking up through the pure white spring snow. Even the trilliums in our woods were standing tall despite their temporary new blanket. But it was still cold enough to snow.
It made me think of the seasons and rhythms of life. We see natural rhythms play out in literal spring, summer, fall and winter but we also see the seasons play out in the events and happenings of our lives.
We experience spring and summer when we are learning and growing in the Lord, when that closeness bolsters us up through the hard times or we are experiencing a reprieve from the trials common to the Christian faith.
Fall and winter come when the Lord seems to be far away and we read and worship but don’t feel his nearness. When we are left to utilize and put in to practice in faith what we learned in the spring and summer seasons. It’s in these seasons that the trials threaten to overtake us, when the anxiety is so very real and sickness or disaster comes.
These seasons don’t follow natural rhythms and sometimes a particular season will last a couple years. How trying are the winter seasons that last that long!
In the winter season, we wait for and long for spring. And we want it to be over so badly that as soon as signs of spring begin to show, we expect winter to be gone. But it’s a slow process and sometimes the evidence of winter remains for a while, much to our dismay, similarly to winter turning into spring in nature. Seeing the grass pop up through the spring snow over the weekend discouraged me in some ways but reminded me of a spring I experienced.
A year and a half ago, my endocrine system crashed and an irrational fear of being sick took over causing a 6 month stretch of anxiety and near panic. It was a horrible period of time and I eventually sought help holistically. Seeking help enabled me to discover and remedy my weakened endocrine system. In that particular trial and winter season, the beginning of taking supplements marked the beginning of spring. But it still took 2-3 months for the feelings of anxiety to totally go away.
Those increasingly milder attacks and feelings of possible attacks were like the spring snow on the green grass Sunday morning. Oh how I wanted the warmth of spring, not the cold temps that allowed snow! It had just been warm Saturday! Oh, how I wanted that feeling like another attack might be coming to go away and anxiety not in the back of my mind. I knew in spring and summer I wouldn’t constantly remember.
Today, I can say it’s a thing of the past and a distant memory. I no longer worry about if what I ate is going to bring on another attack or feel that icky off feeling might be signaling that another attack might be coming. Praise God!
Most importantly, though, are the lessons God wants to teach us in those seasons of fall and winter. For me, God used that particular time to expose my lack of trust in Him and His plan for my life. I found myself in a place of total surrender to His will and plan when spring finally came.
I am also seeing how God had plans for that winter season. In the same way the He sent friends to minister to me, I find myself now able to walk alongside, encourage and help the people that God brings to me. A big take-away was how little our life is actually about us but rather more about God preparing us to fulfill His purposes.
I don’t know where you find yourself today, but it’s in those winter seasons that we come to flesh out our faith. It’s where the rubber meets the road so to speak. I found the greatest comfort in knowing that the winter season made me draw closer and lean in more to God rather than me finding myself mad at and questioning God, pulling away from Him. I found that a sweet assurance of my salvation as He worked in me.
Recently, I found this quote from Oswald Chambers and it really ties in beautifully with these changing seasons.
We are not fundamentally free; external circumstances are not in our hands, they are in God’s hands, the one thing in which we are free is in our personal relationship to God. We are not responsible for the circumstances we are in, but we are responsible for the way we allow those circumstances to affect us; we can either allow them to get on top of us, or we can allow them to transform us into what God wants us to be.
~Oswald Chambers, Conformed to His Image
If you find yourself in a winter season or trial right now I pray that you will draw close to God regardless of how it feels and let it encourage you that God has enabled you to do so. Find joy in the fact that God is working in your life. Ask Him to give you some eternal perspective beyond what you are experiencing right now.
Maybe you find yourself at the beginning of spring and are still frustrated with the lingering winter. Remember the spring snow! Spring will come fully and winter will become but a memory!