The explosion of color in summer keeps our gardens and landscapes filled with joy. But what about in winter? The landscape is gray and brown with only surprises of color on new mushrooms or flashes of bird feathers. Winter is barren and dull for the most part. The sky is often leaden gray for days. Snow cloaks the landscape with wonder and sparkles, but then it also turns brown.
There are seasons in our life that are like winter, or what some call a desert when the Lord seems to be silent. Winter is quiet for a good part of the time. The birds don’t sing much, there are no lawnmowers or leaf blowers. Even the wind in the trees has a different tenor that when the leaves refresh the forest. Looking at photos of summer in comparison with winter reveals just how stark the contrast really is.
I was contemplating the two seasons, winter and summer, as I walked today. The sun was warm, but the wind was bitter on my face. I passed a section where over a dozen trees had snapped off in a winter storm leaving the ground littered with logs and branches. In some places the decking across the wetland had to be completely replaced as trees had fallen and pierced the boards or broken the railings. I thought about the trees that were snapped off about twenty feet above the ground. It reminded me of times in my life when a sudden storm of events had snapped off part of my life and nothing was ever the same.
I have lived through real storms such as hurricane Sandy that felled seven, 200-year-old oaks into my yard, one into my house. Or times at work when a co-worker betrayed me for personal gain, or times of illness when I was afflicted with a terminal disease and was supposed to die — but didn’t. There have also been times of desert when God was silent and my prayers felt like they were evaporating. Regardless of the trauma or silence, God had not moved away. Rather just like the earth is silent in winter, He was doing something that would only be revealed later. Always remember that deep within the silence is treasure.
I could easily say let’s not walk in winter, there’s nothing much to see. But that would be both untrue and unwise. There is always something to see if you believe that He is going to show it to you. Tolkien once wrote:
“There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly will find something if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.”
As I set out each day on my walk, I’m not so much looking for something as I am anticipating what the Lord will reveal. He never disappoints.
When you experience the death of someone you love, an illness that forever changes your way of life, lose a job that you love or a disloyal colleague is now lost from your life, what do you do? Where does your focus go? Do you search out encouragement? If not, why? Do you search for the treasure that the Lord has for you amidst the trial?
As Christians, the Holy Spirit deposits joy within us. Even amidst great disappointment, sorrow or change, there is a wellspring of joy that never runs dry because it is not dependent upon what is going on around us. Rather it is a gift of His presence that never leaves us. This wellspring cannot be destroyed by anything in this world. He has overcome the world.
Joy is not like happiness which disappears like the dawn. Joy comes from knowing that regardless of what happens in life, the Holy Spirit lives in you, eternally connecting you to Jesus and the Father. The entire Godhead lives in you, is accessible to you, loves you and wants to help you get through the winter days. And He not only wants you to get through those days, but He also wants you to have the victorious joy He placed in you. That joy is a permanent sunny day with blue skies and flowers. It’s a joy that brings peace to your heart that no one can ever take from you. And it is the wellspring from which hope grows.
“I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!”
John 15:11 NLT