“Trees need the winter…They need time to strengthen for the growth they experience in springtime. All that green, pulpy growth has to harden, or the tree would not be able to withstand the seasonal winds that whip against it.” (Captain Dale Black, Flight to Heaven, page 79)
I think it’s fair to say winter in 2014 has been rough everywhere. More snow, ice, and subzero temperatures then we’ve experienced in a while. While standing with my daughter waiting for the school bus with windchills in the single digits, I vaguely remembered hearing someone say it was going to be extra cold because the fur growing on the horses this fall was thick.
I experienced a “winter” in my personal life in 2013. I felt like nothing was happening. I wondered what God was preparing me for, questioned my direction, and contemplated whether or not I’d heard Him correctly. I had a choice. I could’ve turned away, looked for the solution myself, and ended up moving further in the wrong direction. Or, I could’ve pressed in closer, asking God to speak, waiting patiently while walking where I thought He wanted me to, listening intently for any change of direction. I chose to press in closer.
I discovered multiple answers. The first was that He was preparing me – I didn’t know what for, but this was preparation time. I was in winter. Winter is dormant. Action takes place underground, but the movement isn’t visible. Instead of growth, it’s a time to strengthen.
Second, He gave me a verse to learn how to “Stand firm and see the deliverance He would give.” God needed to bring me personally to a place where I trusted Him, stopped trying to earn His favor and love, and just let Him provide. That was a hard lesson for someone who has struggled with sitting still. I’m used to working for things, but needed to learn the true definition of grace.
Lastly, He gave me permission to rest. In fact, He was very clear that now was the time to rest because soon I’d be working hard. He wanted me mentally, physically, and most importantly, spiritually ready. However, He only gave me the “all clear” to work after He’d taught me first what it felt like to have Him deliver me. This last one was hard for me also because I like to get my work done and then rest instead of resting ahead of time.
In 2014, God started showing me a glimpse of what He has planned. Only a glimpse. He gave me some very clear directions and it is with excitement that I’m beginning to accomplish what He’s asking of me, in His strength. He’s continually adding to the bigger picture what He wants me to do and while I have a little residual fear, I’m choosing to venture out and obey in those areas as well. Most importantly, He’s showing me how wonderful the spring feels after having endured what has felt like a very long and difficult winter. In addition, He’s showing me how important winter is to prepare for spring and summer.
As you begin to see signs of spring weather in your community, can you identify any areas of your personal life where God has brought you out of a winter season into the freshness of spring?
© Cheri Swalwell 2014