Do you know what I love about living in Alberta? Besides the mountains and amazing burgers, what I love the most about living in this province is probably the fact that we can experience every single season all in one…sometimes even multiple times a day! Now when you read that, I hope that you can catch the sarcasm dripping from my words. Don’t get me wrong; I love all of the seasons and the different aspects and life changes that they bring; I just don’t want to have to pull out my winter jacket and mittens in the middle of September. Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot you can do when the weather decides to snow halfway through fall other than pull on a couple more pairs of socks and roll with the punches. It’s a little bit of an “adapt or die” mentality that drives me forward as I face frost, freezing rain, wind gusts, and blazing sunshine all in the span of a couple of days.
And while I’ve gotten fairly good at adapting to whatever nature throws at me, I’m far less flexible when it navigating changes in my spiritual life.
I like to think that I’m not alone in feeling this way and that there are others out there who think and react the same way that I do when it feels like I’m experiencing every single kind of spiritual season at the same time. It’s hard to be content with the place that you’re in right now, especially if that place is uncomfortable. No one wants to be in a spiritual winter forever; we’d much rather be on the mountaintop than in the valleys below. But grumbling and complaining about how isolated and far away from God we are doesn’t help us exit the snow and enter the sun.
Instead of telling others how we feel about where we are spiritually, we should first be bringing those comments, complaints, and concerns to our Heavenly Father. He wants us to talk to him, and he wants to talk to us. After all, it’s our relationship with him that is influenced by our spiritual seasons, so we should be bringing our thoughts and feelings to him before anyone else. Take a moment and consider how you react and interact with God during the changes in your life:
When things are good: do you thank God for his provision and seek him continually or do you slowly withdraw from his presence and begin to feel like you can handle things on your own again?
When things are bad: do you get angry with God and stop talking to him or do you seek him even when it feels like he’s brought the world crashing down on top of you?
When it feels like no one’s there: Do you see the perceived silence of God as a way to strengthen and refine your faith or do you come to the conclusion that God has abandoned you and therefore you can abandon him?
When life throws you a curve ball: Do you immediately bring your situation before the Lord or do you immediately pick up the phone and tell your best friend about it?
Our answers to these questions either bring us closer to God through every season or set us up to fall harder when the cold snaps come and the connection seems to get uncertain.
Often the times that I feel closest to God are the times when everything’s going well, when it’s easy to find time to do my devos, when talking to God comes easily and I can see answers to my prayers, and when I feel so close to God that I see him in everything. But just like summer can’t last forever, those times of intense intimacy with God can’t last forever either. We need to go through the times of laying fallow to be prepared for the coming times of growth and harvest. And it’s in those times that I find myself being tested and refined, and I hate to admit it, but I often fail those tests because I’m clinging to memories of past seasons instead of being content with where I’m at now.
When our hearts and minds remain in the past seasons of growth and harvest, we miss what God is trying to teach us in the season and place we’re in right now. There are amazing lessons to be learned in the winter months just as there are in the summer months, but we must be willing to look for them. And not just look for the lessons to be learned, but to continue to actively seek out the Lord, even when it’s hard or when we don’t want to.
Learning to be content with where I’m currently at in my relationship with the Lord will be a continual journey for me, one of lessons learned and trails survived. My encouragement for you and for me is to find your contentment in the Lord, and not in the season of life that you’re in right now.
“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”