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Receiving Winter...Hoping for Spring


He has set eternity in the human heart. Yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. He has made everything beautiful in its time.
Ecclesiastes 3:11

I don’t deal so well with winter. I struggle with the fallow periods where there doesn’t seem to be growth. The times when life feels too difficult to think about. Nothing but cold, dark, existence. I often wonder if I’ll stay in winter forever.  

My coping mechanism, when stuck in the dead of winter, is to look beyond my circumstances. Focusing on the future at the expense of my present. Fixing my eyes on the next thing to get me through this current moment.

What am I doing? What is this for? What purpose does winter have? Can we move on to spring already?  

Yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

Spring is exhilarating. The crocus and aconite are the first hints of the floral party to come. Anticipation of daffodil, tulips, and cherry blossoms build with each week. Followed by the explosion of herbaceous perennials and leaves that play with the warming light of lengthening days.

He has made everything beautiful in its time.

Really? Everything?  

The beauty of Spring is evident in its unfurling colors. The sun warms the earth and lets you shed your extra layers. There’s a feeling of fresh, new starts in the air.

Where is the beauty in winter?

Winter is inconvenient. It puts my plans in flux. It feels like I can’t get traction. “It’s going to rain and then drop below freezing?! Why can’t it just snow?!” 

I’m being a bit heavy-handed. I don’t actually have a problem seeing the beauty of winter. Fluffs of snow on evergreens. The flaming bark of red twig dogwoods. Running into the house to beat the chill of a cold breeze in anticipation of the warmth of home. The challenge comes with accepting winter as it is. I struggle with dwelling in the winter. 

He has made everything beautiful in its time.

Winter and spring are imbedded in time.

Time records the rhythm of winter, spring, summer, and fall. Season after season, year after year. Each adds a vital element to the cycle. To echo James K. A. Smith, spring’s potential is latent in winter’s dormancy.  

There is no spring without winter, without fall, without summer, without the previous spring. With this in view, there is a purpose for winter. It’s not a dead transition period here to force us to wait until the good time of spring comes. It’s not a trial to endure to train us to wait for the “better future”.

Winter is an intentional, set apart season that God has created, endowed with beauty, and given value.  

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 

I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.

Ecclesiastes 3:11-14

“Nothing better…” I can hear the voices of some Christians screaming in defiance, “But we are a people of hope! We look to new creation when all will be made new. We don’t live like hedonists pursuing the pleasure of the moment.” I agree, we can and should wait in hope for what is to come. But the wisdom of Ecclesiastes—the wisdom of creation—cautions us. Don’t let your future hope blind you to the current season. The time you’re in, right now, is God’s gift to you.  

The way you spend your present impacts how you’ll experience the future. Because how you inhabit your current season shapes the past you will carry with you.  

In being present today, you are preparing yourself for tomorrow’s joy, sorrow, or whatever other vapor-of-a-thing life throws at you. As with the seasons of the year, seasons of our lives come and go. We carry into new seasons all the ways we have inhabited the old seasons.

By learning to dwell in the moment, we also learn to find beauty in the winter. Becoming aware of whatever comes our way. Seeing every good thing as a gift from God to be enjoyed in the presence of our generous father. 

In the face of eternity, I want to learn to dwell in the time that is given to me. To enjoy the ephemeral nature of life, unhurried by the need to push through the uncomfortable. Learning to open myself to the expansiveness of God. Gazing in wonder at the complexity of creation. Kneeling in reverence to the grandeur of God and recognizing the smallness of my life.

Perplexed by how God has made everything beautiful in its time. Amazed that God chose to intimately relate himself to us physically in time through Jesus.  

In Jesus, THE creator came to us.

Situated in time. Subject to the seasons. Interacting with the ephemeral. God became flesh to continue his work of recreation in the mess of humanity.

God cares about all he has created and will renew all things. Jesus proves this. So, take heart in the winter. There is beauty. 

Will you open your awareness with wonder and ask to see? Afterall, God created and has you in the winter, as he has with spring, and summer, and autumn. As the Lord draws you near, respond with thanksgiving, making the most of your lot and bringing the beauty and necessity of Christ with you in every season.  

A prayer for your journey.   

God, who is shrouded in mystery yet who chose to reveal yourself to us, first to our forefathers and with increased clarity in Jesus. Shape our hearts to your will and your way. Your way leads to healing, peace, and thriving amidst all circumstances.

We expect winter to come. We ask that you would use the suffering ahead to purify our being and unearth the things we turn to in place of you. Give us the desire to look to you with eyes of wonder. Give us an awareness of your work and a disposition of thanksgiving. Bless us with wisdom and discernment as we live out our vaporous days under the sun. Amen, come Lord Jesus. 

We’re tempted to rush ahead to the next season. But God is working in your present. Find out how the traditional church season of Lent addresses this reality, inviting you into a wilderness experience to encounter God in new ways.