On this cold, snowy day, I am reminded of this description of Winter by Alicia Britt Chole in her book, Anonymous:
In winter, are the trees bare? yes.
In winter, are the barren? No.
Life still is.
Life does not sleep- though in winter she retracts all advertisement. And when she does so, she is conserving and preparing for the future.
And so it is with us. Seasonally, we too are stripped of visible fruit. Our giftings are hidden; our abilities are underestimated. When previous successes fade and current efforts falter, we can easily mistake our fruitlessness for failure.
But such is the rhythm of spiritual life: new growth, fruitfulness, transition, rest…..new growth fruitfulness, transition, rest. Abundance may make us feel more productive, but perhaps emptiness has greater power to strengthen our souls.
In spiritual winters, our fullness is thinned so that, undistracted by our giftings, we can focus upon our character. In the absence of anything to measure, we are left with nothing to state at except for our foundation.
Risking inspection, we begin to examine the motivations that support our deeds, the attitudes that influence our words, the dead wood otherwise hidden beneath our busyness. Then a life-changing transition occurs as we move from resistance through repentance to the place of rest. With gratitude, we simply abide. Like a tree planted by living water, we focus upon our primary responsibility: remaining in him.
In winter, are we bare? Yes.
In winter, are we barren? No.
True life still is.
The Father’s work in us does not sleep- though in spiritual winters he retracts all advertisements. And when he does so, he is purifying our faith, strengthening our character, conserving our energy, and preparing us for the future.
The sleepy days of winter hide us so that seductive days of summer will not ruin us. Alicia Britt Chole
Father, just as the earth finds restoration and rest in the quiet, solitude of winter, allow this spiritual season to purify my faith so that I might abide only in You. Amen.