The necessity of seasons
For the past 7 months I have walked out my door each morning to the smothering cling of the city heat. Little fluctuation other than a few degrees, no wrist watches, calendars, or clocks in homes to mark the passing of time mean that days soon turn to weeks, and weeks to months.
I miss the distinct markings of the earth’s tilting as we enter new passages of time. I have no crisp leaves underfoot, or the flamboyant spices dancing on my tongue to tell me Autumn is here, or the cranked up car heat and withered fingers, chilled to the bone, to signal that Christmas nears.
Seasons are vital, and seasons do change. Yet, while in the natural I long for the seasons, in the spiritual I cry for Him to bring me out of the season where it at first appears that growing has ceased, and the winter has dominated for too long.
This month I’ve sat at His feet with a cry much like David’s: ‘Where are you?’, ‘Have you abandoned me’, ‘don’t hide from me’, ‘I can’t go another day without your nearness.’ I have felt grounded to a point where progress appears to have halted, dreaming seems distant and I’m left longing to be out of the wilderness whatever it takes.
But, Megan, I want to teach you, I know He says. Do not misinterpret this season, for beauty is born from barrenness.
See, we’ve misinterpreted the wilderness as a dormancy where fruit is neither produced in the seen or the unseen. We accept the desert as our portion, where we believe God is silent because He has nothing to say. We conclude He’s left us, and we grumble in discontent that His presence isn’t felt as our times of worship seem dry and difficult. We lack the vision to see an end to the winter.
look at the trees
They are not anxious as to whether they will produce fruit again. A flower does not fear that it will not bloom, a tree fearful that it’s branches will not spring forth a harvest.
You will bear fruit again, barren one.
It is the assured security in the necessity of seasons, knowing that dormancy will soon give way to fruit.
And, fruit cannot always be measured by what the eye perceives. For often the desert is the quiet re-calibration of a mind as He tunes the heart into an intimacy with Him, teaching it to communicate in a different way to before.
See, the truth of the desert season is that often how He has been teaching us is not the way He wants to teach us now. The way He has been speaking to us before, is not how He wants to speak to us now. Maybe we were coming to God via track A, connecting, entering His presence quickly and it was abundant. But then, it appears that track A doesn’t appear to ‘produce’ the same results. We are not as quick to hear His voice, worship feels tiresome, it appears He is not as close. The thing is, we keep coming to find Him via track A when God has positioned Himself at B. Communication over time changes just as in the natural. He moves not to deter or to overwhelm, not to be sneaky or tease us, He moves because He knows what we need. He moves because His position calls us to give more. His new positioning causes us to fight in the search for Him for a new intimacy.
The truth is that He sees what’s coming and He knows what we need. The truth is that He wants us to succeed, and He is doing something new. The truth is that pathways are, and will be forged through the desert, and rivers WILL burst forth from the wasteland (Isaiah 43:19)
The desert produces something in us, that we did not have before. It teaches us that ebbs and flows are vital. A reigning in often shows how hard His hand has been guiding, a seeming drawing back from His presence shows us how vital and valuable His presence is, and the lifting of grace shows the covering of grace that has always been.
The wilderness is what Graham Cooke calls a ‘tight space’ with God. The intent of any season is there to push us into greater intimacy with the Father, it’s where the foundations for fruitfulness are built. Hiddenness is a time of God working wisdom within our lives that produces peace. He wants to renew our minds so we can then receive the visitation from heaven that is coming, that we couldn’t or wouldn’t have been able to understand before. The wilderness is where we learn to relate directly to God as sons or daughters. We understand that the desert is never a punishment. Right before Jesus was sent to the wilderness, God said ‘You are my beloved Son, In whom I am well pleased’... He sends us there because He loves us, and knows what’s best. It was the wilderness that was the making of Moses, John the Baptist, Paul and others.
We do have a choice of how to respond. To mope at what appears as a lack, or celebrate the fruit that is being produced, that is coming, that He’s doing, yet just currently remains unseen.
When I find myself in the wilderness, my cry of where are you God needs to change to, I know you are near. My cry of I have nothing, needs to turn into the knowledge that something beautiful is coming. My cry of why have you brought me here, needs to turn into a celebration of honour knowing that desert seasons produces the most incredible bounty. My heart-ache over a lack of progress needs to turn to- thank you for what you’re doing though I see so dimly.
I must worship though I feel nothing, rejoice though my spirit feels barren and thank Him for the very things I do not see. My feelings do not determine the reality of God. Because while our feelings change, He doesn’t. It is a beautiful offering- the heart that chooses to praise though it feels so desolate.
dana candler writes:
One by one, He will remind us of the movements of our hearts in the age when we could but see so dimly. He will tear by tear remember our love, remembering what we have long forgotten and bringing nobility forever to the moments of barren prayer and lovesick heartache that we had thought so weak.”
Because soon, we are led through, and we lift our eyes to see what we had yearned to see all along. What He had been waiting to show us. As the desert gives way and shadows flee, we see the green expanse, as the desert becomes as green as the mountains of Lebanon. Like Hagar, we see the well of the water we had yearned for, the valley of trouble becoming the gateway of hope. From the dry and weary earth life bursts forth; singing from silence, and beauty from what had appeared dead. We are awakened to the kindness and the necessity of His guidance and not our own. Fear dispels as we realise He never left us for a moment and sleep is rubbed from our eyes, as we understand that the winter has surely passed and the spring time has come.
But then I will win her back once again.I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there.I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble[a] into a gateway of hope.She will give herself to me there, as she did long ago when she was young, when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt. When that day comes,” says the Lord, “you will call me ‘my husband’ instead of ‘my master.
Awaken daughter of Zion, come away with me, you only now see clearly because of what has passed.