October is full of excitement over the changing leaves, cooler weather, pumpkins, hot chocolate and a favorite of mine, soup! So many soups! Fall is a personal favorite because it also means soccer season, where our family spends most of our time outdoors in sweatshirts keeping little black bugs at bay while we watch games and my daughter cheers on “the boys”.
With all the excitement of fall, I can’t help myself but feel a little uneasy about what comes next - winter. Winter is hard. It’s cold for (what seems like) half the year, the sun graces us with its presence once a week, it’s dark when I go to work and dark when I leave. I personally have a hard time embracing winter, I would rather roast in the sun than add another layer of clothing!
At the Fulfilled fall retreat, Kim Erickson spoke on seasons. All seasons are normal and have to occur; it’s a natural progression. Each season has a beginning and an end and serves its own purpose in nature. Winter is a resting season in preparation for new growth in spring, which blossoms to summer where creation is booming with vegetation and foliage. Summer fades to fall where the temperatures drop and the earth prepares for winter, where plants die off at the surface, but underneath are resting to prepare for the cycle to begin again.
Kim then shifted to the spiritual seasons we go through. One stuck out to me, she said, “Winter isn’t always bad, it can also mean rest”. I tend to think in clear cut, “black and white”, “good and bad”. I like answers, data, logic and “why” things happen. I’ve always viewed winter as bad - both in the literal seasonal sense and spiritual season. I recently experienced a spiritual winter season. I felt disengaged and not hungry to be in the Word like I had been before. A lot of my devotional time was spent in prayer, talking to God in front of a blank journal page. I felt embarrassed - I couldn’t figure out what was “wrong” and why I didn’t feel like studying.
Psalm 119 has multiple verses, that as I read them, I imagine are coming from a place of winter:
25: My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word!
37: Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.
50: This is my comfort in affliction, that your promise gives me life.
88: In your steadfast love give me life, that I may keep the testimonies of your mouth.
93: I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life.
154: Plead my cause and redeem me; give me life according to your promise!
156: Great is your mercy, O Lord; give me life according to your rules.
159: Consider how I love your precepts! Give me life according to your steadfast love.
In each of the verses, David is pleading for life. The translation of “life” means: to revive, to live, have life, sustain life, to be revived from sickness, discouragement, faintness, death; to restore to life, cause to grow (BlueLetterBible.com, H2421 haya). The life David is asking for is stemming from one source: the Word! The very thing that I felt disengaged from is the source of revival and restoration to life. The devil is tricky like that - pulling us from the Source that he knows gives us life.
As you read the rest of Psalm 119, (which I encourage you to do!) David doesn’t try to figure out why he is feeling a certain way, dwelling on the cause. He recognizes his season, knows what he is feeling, focuses on what he knows he needs (the Word) and says the things he will do. This is very different from how I have approached winter seasons! David had decided before his challenging seasons how he was going to respond when they came. He was prepared in his mind to set his eyes on the things above, to focus on the Lord’s Word and His promises and to praise His name and speak of His testimonies.
I would like to say I am out of my winter season, but that wouldn’t be honest. Sometimes winters are long. What I can say is that choosing to sit with the Word each day regardless of how I feel, even if it’s the same verse each day, begins to revive my soul over time. His Word does not return void and the Lord’s faithfulness isn’t driven by our emotional state or actions. Nothing about this season is bad. Is it hard? Yes! But sitting at Jesus’ feet is the best place I can be and there is a newness and a hope that spring is coming!
What season are you in currently?
You may not be in a winter season right now, but a winter season will come. How can you prepare your heart and mind for when the seasons change?
What verses will you choose to cling to in those days?
I encourage you to not let your emotions drive your actions in your relationship with the Lord. Choose to spend time journaling or praying with the Lord over your winter season. Ask a friend to hold you accountable to this. Don’t go it alone. Remember, God is faithful and good and His Word does not return void!