Some seasons are so long and so difficult that hope seems a burden too heavy… In a world saturated in empty clichés, how do we discern true promises from commercial Hallmark cards?
In retrospect, it was impatience and discontentment mixed with illusions of an easy income that drove us into the business that became our nightmare. Then a young pastor of a fragile church plant and new father, my man sought the solution to our struggle for sufficient time and money for both, in what appeared to have worked for others.
But it was like David wearing Saul’s armor; it didn’t fit and it wasn’t faith. For a season, it provided what we had hoped, both in flexibility and income . But there was never peace. By the time we realized just how far from God’s will for us it was, the negative consequences were in motion. Yet, even as the business crashed under excruciating stress in 2007, His grace remained.
Throughout it all, my man pastored the now flourishing church, our children thrived in the Lord, and we were purged of much materialism in the process. When 2008 pulled the financial rug under so many others, we empathized. The sleepless nights, wrecked by shame and fear and reaching for true hope, were familiar to us, too.
Somewhere along the line, we settled into the acceptance that financially, we had been utterly eroded. Our ever- leaking roof was a practical expression of the red numbers’ reality, but images from persecuted Christians in burned homes, burned bodies brought sobering perspective. No matter what, we are among the most privileged in the world, and I blush at the whining that has come from my lips, my spoiled self….
Still, one day last week, a phone call from our lawyer informed me that the last residual drain from the business had been stopped, and just like that, I realized that our long financial winter had begun to thaw. Every season does indeed come to an end. And most importantly, the winter accomplishes necessary growth that simply could not occur during perpetual summer.
“Dormancy is like hibernation in that everything within the plant slows down. Metabolism, energy consumption, growth and so on. The first part of dormancy is when trees lose their leaves. They don’t make food in the winter, so they have no use for masses of leaves that would require energy to maintain…”
When God allows winter in our lives, the excess falls like autumn leaves. Financially, we realize how much we can do without. Emotionally, we realize entitlements that may not have produced good fruit. Spiritually, we see who we are when pretenses are dropped.
“Impeded growth is another aspect of dormancy. It saves a lot of energy to stall growth during the winter, and during the winter, the tree isn’t making any new food for energy. It’s similar to hibernation, since most animals who hibernate store food as fat, and then use it to run their essential systems during the winter, rather than grow any more. The tree’s metabolism also slows down during dormancy, and this is part of why cell growth is impeded. Since it has to conserve the food it has stored, it’s best if the tree uses it up slowly and only for essential functions.”
What are the essential functions in your life?
In what ways may the inessentials have cluttered your purpose?
“It is possible to force a tree to evade dormancy if you keep it inside and with a stable temperature and light pattern. However, this is usually bad for the tree. It’s natural for trees to go through dormancy cycles, and the lifespan of the plant is dramatically increased if the tree is not allowed to go dormant for a few months. Trees have winter dormancy for a reason, and it’s best to just let them run their course as nature intended.”
“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
Ask Him, and He will reveal His purpose for your season.
Seek refuge in Him, and He will shield you, even as you go through this season.
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.” (Isaiah 43:2)
Lift your eyes, and you will see glimpses of His beauty, as your heart stretches towards eternity.”He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts….” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
Unlike the Hallmark cards, “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10-11)
(Nature quotes from www.com/local-reports/illinois/local/how-do-trees-get-through-the-winter)
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