In Genesis 1:14, 15, God creates “lights in the firmament of the heavens” for “signs and seasons, and for days and years”.
In agricultural societies, seasons are an important part of life. With industrialization, though, these natural rhythms are lost, and we rush from one day to the next, not understanding that life was never meant to be lived at the same pace year in and year out. But no matter how attuned to the seasons (or not) our society is, they still exist. If you look closely, you will find them everywhere, even in your spiritual life.
Winter is a season of rest, but can also be a season of harsh storms, cold winds, and isolation. Some winters are harsher than others, but all are times to draw closer to Father God, to send our roots deeper into Him, in preparation for the coming spring. Some plants – apple trees, for instance – require a period of very cold temperatures in order to produce fruit the following spring.
In fact, a fruit tree planted in the fall will produce fruit a whole year earlier than one planted the following spring, because during those cold months of winter, the tree is using no energy for growth, so it can put all its energy into sending its roots down deeper into the soil. So when blossom-time comes, the tree planted in the fall is stronger, and has a better root system to gather water and nutrients. The tree just planted in the spring has to spend the summer growing, so it can’t expend the energy to deepen its roots until winter finally comes.
Spring comes with a burst of life and color, sometimes overwhelming us with vibrant change and an abundance of new growth. Spiritual or emotional spring is like that, too. All of a sudden, new ideas/beliefs/activities are bubbling up inside. We are restless, eager for change, so full of life we don’t know where to start.
Once those ideas and changes settle in, though, we edge into summer. Ah, lazy summer. This is actually the quietest season. Things are growing, but slowly, silently, almost invisibly. This is the season when we sometimes feel that nothing is happening, that all that spring blossom has died, that we’ve missed the boat or been left behind.
But wait! Don’t give up on your spiritual garden just yet. One day it looks hopeless, and the next, it’s full of ripe fruit, just waiting to bring life and health and joy to those you share it with. At last – autumn! Harvest time!
As we reap the rewards of this season, things begin to quiet down, and we gradually move into winter again.
And so the seasons change, over and over again, our whole lives long.This can feel like we are ‘doing laps’ or ‘going around the mountain again’. But in reality, we have grown since the last time we were in this season, so it is not the same.
If we understand which season we are in, we can optimize our time there. We can learn what we need to learn, do what we need to do, rest when we need to rest, go deeper in Him when it’s time for that.
When we learn to recognize our own seasons, and learn to live in them properly, instead of trying to rush through this one to get to the next, we may find that our lives are richer, more satisfying, and much less stressful. Our roots go deeper and deeper, our branches grow stronger and stronger, and our fruit becomes more abundant, sweeter, and more nutritious (because it’s less stressed). We become the ‘trees planted by the river’ of Jeremiah 17:8.
The better you understand your own seasons, and how to live in them, the more you will be able to understand another’s seasons. And this is important; because, while we all live in the same climatic season, our personal, internal, seasons are individual. I may be in spring while you are in autumn, and another is in winter.
If we demand others to be in the same season we are, we can do much damage to their spiritual life and growth. Each season has its own tasks and changes, and each is valuable, so we should not denigrate the season another is in. In fact, we can often be more helpful to our siblings in Christ if we are not in the same season they are in. We can see more clearly what they are going through, understand it because we’ve recently gone through it ourselves, or just be able to be there for them because we are not currently in that season.
May you be blessed with His understanding of your personal seasons, wisdom to know how to live in the season you are in now, and the love and understanding to extend grace to others in their seasons.