Archives For seasons

A life of seasons

September 26, 2012 — Leave a comment

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

I’m quite a big fan of weather.

It’s not the coolest thing. But I love huge variations in weather, from blisteringly hot summer days to bitingly cold winter nights. There’s something about the ever-changing nature of the weather which I find intriguing.

With that in mind, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about seasons – both seasons of weather and seasons of life.

In nature, seasons are part of the intrinsic cycle of life. Spring offers new life and green shoots, which bloom and flourish in summer. Autumn heralds the beginning of the end of this time of colour, whilst winter superficially seems dead but nests next spring’s hope underneath its cold blanket.

This cycle comes and goes each year. There are variations, yes, but the overall cycle is the same. Without fail.

***

I think the same is true of our lives. I don’t know whether we follow the same set pattern that nature does. I think it’s probably not quite as structured and planned as that.

But our lives go in seasons. There are times when we are full of hope and expectation, when there are new beginnings and opportunities. These times often turn into summer seasons, when we flourish and grow.

Then there are autumn times, when it can feel as if nothing is happening and we are treading water. During autumn, it can feel a little as if the good things are dying off, as if we are losing them. Autumn invariably leads to winter, where we find ourselves hopeless, lost and without direction.

A life of seasons.

***

Ideally, we’d be able to lose the winter season, make the spring and autumn shorter and spend most of our time in the summer. Ideally. But in the same way that nature would not be able to survive on just one season alone, the same is true with us.

The seasons all have a value, all have a purpose. Even if sometimes, that purpose can be painful. The winter season can be long and bleak. But it teaches us to trust, to remember that spring and summer will come, and to rely on the roots we have grown in the warm seasons.

Seasons come and go, but God’s love never once falters or fails, never lessens or becomes conditional. Despite the seasons, God’s love runs through them all.

That promise is what we root ourselves in.

***

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.” Lewis Carroll

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It’s no secret that for lots of Christians, God seems to go silent for a while. Times and seasons come and go where we struggle to hear from God, struggle to discern his voice and his purpose for our lives.

These periods of drought can be short-lived or painfully long. There can sometimes feel like there is light at the end of the tunnel, but also like the tunnel is getting darker and darker.

For me, it’s something which is a huge struggle. I can go for weeks without hearing from God (or without thinking I’ve heard from God).

At times when I feel I should be hearing from him most, I seem to hear from him least.

***

Part of the reason I think it can be difficult to go through seasons like this is because it can feel like God has forgotten us. Like he’s either too busy doing other things, or like he’s simply missed our prayers.

Which of course isn’t true.

But it can feel that way. I know that for me, there’s a constant need to remind myself of God’s love and goodness on a daily basis, if not more regularly. I take a lot of comfort from the Israelites, who constantly referred to God by mentioning his past actions (Joshua 24:17 and many more).

Despite constantly feeling like God had forgotten them, the Israelites called out to God and recognised his hand in their lives. They recognised the value of their testimony. They recognised that God had not forgotten them.

***

That’s the thing about God. He never forgets. He never leaves us. His mercies are new every morning, and his love endures forever.

That’s what I tell myself when I feel like things are tough. Like I’m forgotten. And with that shift in perspective comes a feeling of comfort and of peace.

A whisper that I’m not forgotten.

***

“God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left.” Lamentations 3:22-24, The Message

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

For years, I’ve led worship in church.

I by no means think I’m amazing at it, and I still have serious doubts about my ability to do it, but it’s what I do. The reason I do it is because I meet God most through worship. It’s always been that way.

Part of the reason I love to lead worship is because I long for others to meet with God, and if singing is a way in which they can do that, then it’s a privilege to lead them in it.

Lately, however, something feels like it’s been missing when I’m leading. In fact it’s not only leading, but when I’m being led as well. For a while, I thought maybe it was something I was doing wrong – making too many mistakes, trying too much or too little.

Put simply, I’m struggling to meet with God during worship.

I can’t put a finger on why. I’ve been through all the obvious options – I’m not trying hard enough (or at all), I’m worried too much about the music and not enough about the One to whom I’m singing. And I feel like despite all my efforts, despite my longings to meet with God, it’s just not happening.

***

Initially, I didn’t know what to do with this situation. Singing has always been my connection with God. I love reading the Bible, praying and learning about him, but worship has always been it for me. So to see that bridge begin to crack and falter hurt and worried me.

However, a while ago I suddenly started to see God and recognise God’s movement in other things, other creative outlets which I had not really tapped into before. For instance, I became very aware that God was speaking to me through what I was reading – not only Christian books and blogs, but the novels I was reading as well.

The same thing happened with poetry. Which is odd because I’ve never really read poems. Now, I read a dozen or so a day. Some about God, some not. Not all of them leave me on my knees in awe, but I’m certainly seeing God’s character through different mediums now.

***

My worry with all of this was that I’d have to stop leading worship. Not so much because I enjoy being at the front (although most worship leaders will tell you they fight a constant internal battle to make sure it’s not a performance, and I’m certainly no different) but because I believe God wants me to lead worship, and I believe he still wants me to, despite these struggles.

The more I think about the this season, which I’m still very much going through, the more I think there’s been a reason for it.

As is always the case with God.

I’ve found him in different places, discovered different ways of expressing my creativity. Perhaps the lesson has been that sometimes I need to break out of the mould, and not simply rely on meeting God through worship. That will always be a part of my relationship with him, but I think he’s telling me that I need to be cultivating other parts as well.

And so whilst I’m sure this will be an ongoing process, I’m starting to see spring appearing. Buds of different flowers I’ve never seen before. A different perspective.

In it’s own way, it’s extremely exciting.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

I spend a lot of my year (75% I suppose) longing for autumn. I love autumn. It’s by far my favourite season.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the other seasons as well. I love spring, the new life that it brings and the excitement in the air. I love long, balmy summer evenings and warm early mornings, and I love the chill and the emptiness of winter.

But autumn is where it’s at. There’s something about autumn which I find beautiful. Those crisp, clear days, surrounded by leaves the colour of rust and gold. Although it is contrary to what is actually happening, for me the world comes alive in autumn. Vivd colours. Animals frantically preparing for the long winter months. The smell of fire. Mist. Frost.

Hope.

In autumn, I find hope. Not because autumn itself is a season of hope, but because I know there is hope and new life on the way. Autumn is like those quiet pre-dawn moments, when the sun is preparing to flood the earth with its light and warmth.

Autumn is the pre-season.

I find it comforting because I think a lot of life is lived in the pre-season. The season of waiting, preparing, watching things change around us. The season after a time of growth and flourishing. The calm after the storm.

Stuck in the pre-season it can be hard to see past the impending chill of winter. Hard to remember what summer was like, what the new life of spring was like.

But autumn is an important time of preparation, a time of reflection, a time of looking forward to the next season which we know and believe is round the corner.

A time of hope.

A reminder of the blessings that have been, and a glimpse of those that will be.

That’s why I love autumn.