Do you live for the winter?

Do icy roads, gray skies and snowy days fill your dreams?

I absolutely love the stillness that comes after a snowstorm.  The beauty of fresh snow outside clinging to the tree branches is something out of a poem.  But to be completely honest, I spend the majority of this season anticipating spring.

It’s not abnormal to long for the warmer days during winter, which is probably why so many plan vacations to sunnier places during these months.  Just a week or so to escape the snowflakes.

It’s also not abnormal to experience spiritual winter or dry seasons as well, but unfortunately a vacation to Orlando isn’t going to be the answer.  

As I think through the different spiritual droughts the Lord has brought me through, there are a few things that have been encouraging to me…a few things that have given me daily hope that it’s just a season, and growth is happening even when I can’t see it.

Stay the Course

It’s so tempting during these seasons to pull away.  We often don’t feel like ourselves, and can’t really explain why.  Our one-on-one times with the Lord feel routine and not life-giving.  It seems more appealing to stay home and watch Netflix than go to Small Group.  And because the reasons behind these spiritually dry seasons are often unexplained, it’s hard or embarrassing to discuss them with others, so we most likely don’t.  Two huge weapons God gives us to fight these feelings of apathy are consistency in our personal quiet times with Him and Christian community.  Our quiet times with the Lord are a vital opportunity to fill our hearts with His truth and also to ask that He reveal any disobedience or areas of our lives that are not glorifying to Him.  Sunday school and church on Sunday morning, small group, prayer meetings, service opportunities and time spent with other believers are all vital.  Stay the course, strive to keep your quiet time a priority and don’t neglect spending time with other believers.

Don’t Allow Your Feelings to Lead

During these seasons I often remember a train analogy.  I was in college when I first heard this explained, and it has been a huge source of encouragement to me ever since.  I believe I learned it from the ministry, Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ).  Picture a train with an engine, car and caboose.  The engine is titled Fact, the car is titled Faith, and the caboose it titled Feeling.  God has designed us to place our faith in the facts about God found in scripture.  No matter what, those facts (His omnipotence, sovereignty, loving and just nature, etc.) need to be what is moving us forward, what is fueling our faith.  Our feelings are a wonderful gift, and they will follow, but we should never allow them to be the engine leading the train.

Keep Your Eyes Open

We are never alone in our fellowship with God, no matter how we may feel.  He is always with us.  My last challenge for us all during these times when we feel like we are in this spiritual desert, is to keep our eyes open.  Every single day the Lord is moving in our lives.  It may be a sunset, a smile from a stranger, a hug, a song you hear at church or a word of encouragement.  Stay alert and remember that huge opportunities of growth are behind these seasons of silence, when we feel like God is nowhere to be found.

Our walks with the Lord are not always going to be full of mountaintop experiences.  In fact, most of life will be lived in the valleys, but that doesn’t mean every day can’t be filled with sweet moments with our Creator.

This reminds me of Paul’s letter to the believers in Colossians.  After he tells them that he is rejoicing in their faith and praying for them to be filled with the Holy Spirit so they can walk well with the Lord, He shares this,

“May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.  He has delivered us form the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

Colossians 1:11-14

I just love how Paul encourages the church to lean fully on Christ to help them endure and continue giving thanks to God.  As Christians, we too get to ‘share in the inheritance of the saints in light.’  How amazing is that!?  It is ALL about Jesus.  It is all about the sacrifice He made for us on the cross when He took our place.  It is all about His forgiveness of our sins.  Paul is telling these believers that they can’t persevere in their own strength, and that it is always only about Jesus.  Our whole lives, our whole purpose is to glorify Him!  

Even during these spiritual droughts, let’s strive to see them as a gift from the Lord.  This is a time to trust and grow through obedience, regardless of how we may feel.

So whether your heart feels like it’s experiencing a frosty winter, or you are high on a mountaintop (spiritually speaking), remember that God is with you.  Stay the course, continuously dig into scripture to grow your faith in the Lord and keep your eyes open for His hand at work in your life.

And go sledding when you get a chance.  It’s a lot of fun and will help you forget for a minute that the groundhog saw his shadow.