Sometimes, just when you think you’re really “losing it” (like maybe you took a wrong turn and are now limping down an endless stretch of deserted country road) you stumble upon another traveler on the same path, one with greater wisdom about the journey or just in the same place, and you’re comforted. That happened to me today. Bonnie Gray’s “What Season of Faith Are You Walking In?” post at Faith Barista spoke to my heart.
Our seasons of faith – where we’re “at” in our walk with God, in our prayer lives, in our daily conduct – are subject to change just as surely as the seasons outside the window. And that’s all right. Throughout the course of our lives we walk through many seasons. Why wouldn’t the same thing be true in our spiritual walk?
It may be a spiritual season of springtime for you right now … full of new life, fresh growth and revelation, warmth and the rain of the Holy Spirit. All excitement and thrills and power. I’m thinking of a young couple I know. They’re having spring. Running to and fro from meeting to conference to meeting, reveling in the presence of God, excited about things to come. They are sowing toward their future in word and action.
Or you might be having summer … bright, warm days filled with harvesting the good things sown in the spring, enjoying the juicy fruits of righteousness and basking in fellowship with others and with God. This is the season of maturity, of fullness and rejoicing, of moving past just being blessed to being a blessing.
Perhaps you’ve entered a spiritual autumn. Things seem a bit dry. Everything “looks” different. I think of Solomon writing Ecclesiastes, questioning and testing and examining. Parts of your spiritual experience that were lush and vibrant a season ago have withered away to dead stalks. There’s a chill in the air and a sense of impending change. As Bonnie put it, fall is a time of “letting go.” I’m about to have to “let go” of my garden, as we’ve dropped down into the 30s at night here and my squash and tomatoes have already suffered the chill. It’s time to put my garden “to bed” for the season. From a spiritual perspective, we “put to bed” our ministry as pastors in July.
Maybe it’s spiritual winter for you right now. Everything appears frozen, dead, unwelcoming, and harsh. There’s little light and lots of long, empty hours of darkness. Fellowship with others all but disappears. You want to hibernate, nestle yourself away with your Abba and avoid the cold, hard world outside. On the inside, there’s light and life and warmth, but it’s locked within. Think of Paul, writing to the church at Philippi from his prison cell, life within and apparent death without. I wonder if, at the time, Paul felt like he was in a spiritual winter?
For some strange reason I think I’ve been led to believe the only spiritual seasons of value are spring and summer. After all, those are the seasons we applaud in our churches and encourage from our pulpits. Watch someone enter an autumn, or worse, a winter season, in his or her spirituality and the questions come. “Is so-and-so backslid? Are they falling away from the church? What’s wrong with him/her?” Maybe, just maybe, NOTHING AT ALL. Perhaps the person is simply in a different season.
Just because the leaves fall off the tree in autumn doesn’t mean the tree is sick.
Snow that covers the grass and turns it brown doesn’t indicate the death of the lawn.
What if there’s something important, something critical, to be accomplished during a spiritual autumn and winter? The God I know and love wouldn’t have created entire seasons that produce nothing.
So what is happening in nature during fall and winter that we’re ignorant of? And does that analogy apply to us spiritually?