By Mikki Lawrence
I am yearning for springtime and yet just outside my window, snow blankets my world. It’s been a very unusual winter for those of us who live in northwest Alabama. I’ve lost count of how many ‘snows’ we have had this year. We normally don’t have ANY snow and can sometimes go several years without snow, but this year we’ve been covered again and again with beautiful, thick and heavy blankets of white.
As I sit and take in the beauty, I also find my heart longing for warmth, for the earth to thaw and yield sprouting daffodils and budding crepe myrtles. Springtime often arrives early here, and I am living with the anticipation that it could be any day now. But then again, in my mind, I regretfully acknowledge that if the tender signs of springtime burst forth too soon, winter will likely once again roar its bitter voice and destroy the early promises of spring.
Yet I find it hard to wait. Impatience stirs within me, but the seasons are out of my control.
So it often is in our lives. Winter comes without our invitation and brings death, or so it appears. The leaves that were once green and then later ablaze with autumn colors, fall away and leave nakedness. All visible signs of life disappear. The horizon of our lives looks barren and colorless.
During those times, the work of God within us is being wrought in the deepest places in our hearts and souls. These are the days when we are tempted to give up. Maybe everything I’ve believed is not true. Maybe God doesn’t care. Perhaps no one does. These thoughts scream at us, as everything in our flesh and everything in our past woundedness tells us that the winter will be endless. Hope will never come.
Just as my daffodils and crepe myrtles don’t really need to spring forth too soon, so it is with us during these seasons. No matter how we long for our winter seasons to be over, we are not truly in control. These waiting ‘winter’ seasons of our lives are much more difficult than the springtime seasons of our lives.
God has a purpose in all of His delays. Even though it may appear to the naked eye that nothing is happening during the winters of our lives, there is much going on in the unseen realm. We know that a tree is not dead during winter but there is no ‘above ground growth’ during its dormancy, yet according to scientists, the tree continues its basic functions and ‘below ground growth and repair’.
This ‘below ground’ work is the most difficult for all of us. We love the growth that is visibly beautiful like my springtime daffodils. When we are able to see the amazing colors of springtime, our breath is taken away, but can we accept the truth that we would never get to the beauty of springtime without the process of winter?
And if the seasons of life are truly, for the most part, out of our control, dare we ask God to show us glimpses of what he is doing ‘below the ground’ of our lives, in the invisible, intangible places?
And beyond that, can we live without answers when the heavens seem silent? Can we trust a God who is working in our lives from the inside out? Can we resist the need to understand and lean into the arms of God for protection during the worst winter days?
I wish it were easy. I wish I could wave a magic wand over any of you who are ‘in winter’ and make it springtime again for you. Yet I have learned some things while walking with God in the winter seasons.
The ‘below the ground’ work prepares me for spring.
The cold barrenness will eventually give way to warmth and ‘above the ground’ beauty.
L.B. Cowman, the author of Streams in the Desert, once said, “The best things in life are the result of being wounded. Wheat must be crushed before becoming bread, and incense must be burned by fire before its fragrance is set free. The earth must be broken with a sharp plow before being ready to receive the seed. And it is a broken heart that pleases God. Yes, the sweetest joys of life are the fruits of sorrow.”
Although we may never be humanly able to joyfully embrace the winters of our lives, perhaps we can at least acknowledge that much of the course of the seasons are out of our control and have a peace inside our hearts that although we are not in control, we serve a God who is. Although God may not have caused your winter, His handprints are sure to be found in the midst of your inner work.
It all brings us back to the words, “Be still, and know that I am God.”
Will you release your struggle to Him and live with the quiet knowing that He is still in control and loves you beyond our understanding?
Oh, winter’s not easy, but it is profitable. We can long for spring and at the same time, look for the fingerprints of God in our winter. We can acknowledge, although it may be with pain, grief, and difficulty, that God is in both seasons.
Mikki Lawrence has been married to her husband for 33 years and has four children and one granddaughter. She has been involved in pastoral ministry for 27 years and has a passion for helping women pursue relational wholeness, fulfilled lives, and connection to their God-given purposes. She has a Masters in Professional Counseling and Masters in Elementary Education. She loves reading, writing, and hanging out with her family and friends.
Mikki’s online blog can be found at www.mikkiblogs.com.