Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Dead of Winter.

"They don't call it 'The Dead of Winter' for nothing"

That was the resounding thought in last night's devotional. Talking about the importance of each of the seasons, both in nature and in our spiritual walk. 

I know I am not the only person who's ever been There.

Sometimes, no matter what you're doing "right", everything just seems to Go. Wrong. You're doing everything you can to climb that mountain but no matter what you do, you can't seem to get out of the valley.

Yah, I am familiar with that valley. The valley referred to as housing "the shadow of death". Yep, that one.

But it's also in this valley that God softly reminds me of Solomon's words in Ecclesiastes: 
   There is a time for everything,
   and a season for every activity under the heavens:
A time to be born and a time to die,
   a time to plant and a time to uproot,
   A time to kill and a time to heal,
   a time to tear down and a time to build,
    A time to weep and a time to laugh,
   a time to mourn and a time to dance,
   A time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
   a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
   A time to search and a time to give up,
   a time to keep and a time to throw away,
   A time to tear and a time to mend,
   a time to be silent and a time to speak,
   A time to love and a time to hate,
   a time for war and a time for peace. 

What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time.

It's winter changing to spring.  There is something to be said for how amazing the first spring day feels on our frostbitten faces. The warmth of a season that comes after the bitter cold of winter, and thaws us out of the gloomy lethargic existence that we are forced to endure each year.

That day is Magical. It represents that season when Life is reborn. And somewhere deep down inside?  I know that without winter, spring would lose it's magic. Without the cold hardness,  flowers wouldn't be as beautiful. The trees would lose their initial beauty and overwhelming sense of renewal, the air; it's distinct scent blowing in a gentle breeze that softly assures us winter has passed .

Winter passes.

I dread those months of cold greyness that freeze us all from the inside out.

But they do. In fact. Pass.

And so it is Also in the seasons of our lives, that God sometimes allows seasons of valleys and dry, barren lands because it's in that place ---When we continue to draw near to Him--- that He is able to mold and perfect us. It's in that place of toil without reward, that God makes us beautiful.

I especially like the way the Message Bible translates 1 Peter 5:10:

You're not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It's the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won't last forever. It won't be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does. 
I often speak of the analogy I have of our lives as a great mural where patches of black paint may seem ugly and difficult to walk through on their own but when you look back on the beauty that the Creator has made. The beauty that is Your Life. You can't help but see how those patches of black paint were essential to the artwork.
But what if Today? We stopped just brushing it off as a season of black paint and rough strokes? What if, instead, we were able to see all the colors that are hidden away in there?


We know when we're in the middle of Winter. We are quite familiar with its overwhelming sense of cold. 
But what if we were able Willing to see the beauty hidden away in the middle of winter? 

What if instead of focusing on the 'dead of Winter', we instead looked to the beauty of the way the sun shines on snow, making it look like crystals and diamonds line the sidewalks and streets.

What if we remember the joy of making snow cream with loved ones, snuggling in front of a cozy fire on a cold night, and watching each uniquely created snowflake fall from the sky.

What if we focused all of our attention on the beautiful things God is doing during our toil, in the midst of our difficult seasons?  
If we are able to sing praises in the midst of our tribulations, How much sweeter will our reward be when spring finally arrives?


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