Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Winters of our Lives

Finally! We're through the holiday season, and the flurry of activity has begun to settle back into a routine. For those of us here in Omaha, we've seen snow like we haven't seen in many, many years! One after another, the storms have swept through, leaving behind enormous drifts, which gather into even more enormous piles when the plows are finished. Leaving our neighborhood has been like driving through a maze of snowbanks with walls about 10 feet high...quite an eerie experience, I must say!

I (Sheryl) happened to have time to look at our blog this morning, and realized we haven't even updated since our November trip to Tijuana, so I guess it's about time to do that.

Recently, I was reading through some old journals and came across a meditation that the Lord had given me about 15 years ago when I was walking through a time in my life that felt like death in many, many ways. Because I've read so many facebook posts lately from people talking about winter, and the cold, and the snow, and wishing it were Spring, I decided to share this with all of you.

The location was a beautiful park in the city where we lived, that had a river running through it, and walking trails several miles long where I often went to walk and pray. I was sitting in the car reading and praying one beautiful winter morning, just watching one of those snowfalls where the flakes are so big they just mesmerize you as they gently fall to the earth. There, in that quiet time and place, the Lord began to speak into my heart:

Today I sit at the park watching a beautiful snowfall. Haven't been here in weeks. Sometimes our lives are like a winter landscape – seemingly dead and bare and no fruit...only a few dead leaves hanging on as reminders of a better season. And yet, there is a special beauty about it....the quiet, the stillness, the sense of everything having come to a stop for a time. The peace and lack of activity present here during the other seasons is overwhelming. It's almost as though God has put everything to rest for a time and in the stillness is doing a new creative work which will burst forth at the proper time in the Spring. All the beauty and energy and fruitfulness and life of the past seasons has been buried under a pure white blanket of snow. None of the scars left by the traffic of the summer remain. The snow, which continues to fall, covers, protects, seals, waters, and restores all that will bring forth life and beauty in the seasons to come. Without this time of rest and repair, the park would die. The flowers and grass and trees would continually pour their strength into what is visible outwardly to the human eye. They would continually be trampled and picked and vandalized by the unthinking people who never cease to come to this place to "take advantage" of the beauty – never stopping to see where the source is.

It's almost as though God brings the winter to stop the drain on His creation. Everything here has a time to sleep and catch its breath and restore and replenish the internal places not seen with the human eye. And thus it is that the park is once again ready to offer beauty and comfort and solitude to those who seek it in the new season as well as to those who come only to take advantage of it.

And so it seems to be in our hearts and lives. The winters, the alone times, the times that appear barren and useless, are in essence the most important to us. Without the times of ceased spiritual activity outwardly, God is unable to do the inside works we need. He covers us for a time – buries us carefully – and gives us a fresh, new clean beginning. Without the down times there could be no season of life and fruitfulness.

Even when the outward man shows absolutely no sign of life, God is at work restoring and refreshing the inward man in the deep places of the heart where only He has access. So, the winters of our lives become needful and essential to our spiritual walk.

"Be still and know that I am God."

Genesis 28:16 – "When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he said, "Surely the Lord is in this place and I was not aware of it." How often this is true in our lives...we slumber and miss God's presence.


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