“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” (Eccl. 3:1)
Just as the earth experiences the change of seasons, so do we, spiritually speaking.
In the spring of our walk with the Lord, everything is fresh and alive. We were born again into spring, as spring lambs, to whom every day is warm sunshine in the love of God, and refreshing showers of joy in the Holy Spirit. Life is exciting and couldn’t be better! Then the seasons begin to change and summer appears. It is a time of much work and the promise of harvest. The days are long and glorious. We begin to mature and gain strength, walking in authority and spiritual gifts. At this time, we begin to take on the characteristics of mature sheep, bearing wool, producing for the Master. It is a time of exhilaration in the things of God.
But somehow, in all of our growth and learning, we didn’t yet understand about the seasons of the Lord, even though nature and the Scriptures teach it. We didn’t know that autumn and winter were coming……and perhaps in our youthful zeal and pride, we scorned those who seemed to be experiencing anything less obviously dynamic.
Then, right as it seemed we were harvesting a bumper crop of fruit, revelation, gifts, and answered prayer – all of a sudden, a cold snap appeared! Spiritual food seemed harder to come by and we had to look deeper for refreshing water. Nothing seemed to be producing and everything slowed down. The nights were long and cold, with all signs of life and vitality disappearing.
To the inexperienced lamb, his world had come to an end. His activities were curtailed, and the Shepherd was not as visible, although ever present. Yet, it was in this time that the sheep was maturing, gaining weight from the dry morsels the Shepherd provided. He was beginning to participate in the reproductive process, which also meant that spring would be coming again.
The same parallel can be drawn with the believer and a fruit tree. The Bible refers to us as “trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord”. A nurseryman will prune a tree, that is, cut off previous areas of growth and fruitfulness, in order to have a greater harvest of fruit.
Spiritual seasons have their own particular beauty to be appreciated while they fulfill their purposes. Spring means awakening and promise; summer means work and fulfillment. Autumn means slowing down and removing of dead wood (both previously productive and not); winter means testing and character building. Winter is a time of obedience for the sake of obedience.
By the way, spiritual seasons are not easily marked off on the calendar. They vary in length, according to the specific purpose of Almighty God. But be assured, you will go through them again and again for the purpose of maturity, strengthening, fruitfulness, and wisdom.
Rather than become alarmed at the apparent change of seasons in your life or church or ministry, follow the counsel of Paul: “Be instant in season, and out of season.” Be consistently zealous of good works. Look for the beauty of each, cooperating with the Wisdom of God, attaining the full benefit of each one. Let us have the attitude found in Scripture:
“My times are in Your hand.” (Ps. 31:15)
“He hath made everything beautiful in His time.” (Eccl. 3:11)