Last week was the fall equinox, which marked the beginning of the fall season. The afternoon sun already started to take on an orange glow. I lived in the Pacific Northwest for a few years, and the seasonal changes there are especially prominent. As soon as October hits, all of the leaves turned into shades of red and started to fall. There and then I understood why the fall season was aptly named “fall.” The aroma of apple cider and cinnamon filled the air. Pumpkins appeared on every porch. I loved how the seasons were so clearly defined. It gave me a clear message that summer was over. It’s time to enjoy the apple harvest and get ready for winter.
Similarly, we also have seasons in our spiritual lives. There are “spring” seasons where new relationships and opportunities blossom. There are “winter” seasons where all outward growths seem to stop. However, even though we are very familiar with seasonal changes in the natural, most of us are not aware of how to adapt to the seasonal changes in the spiritual.
Personally, I went through a winter-like season for five years. I had just quit from a demanding job, and wasn’t ready to look for a new job yet. I decided to take a break so I can stay at home and rest for a while. What I didn’t realize was that this break would last five years. My husband worked during the day, and we have no kids. Most of the time, I was home alone. Physically, I didn’t have much energy or motivation to do much. I felt burnt out and was maybe mildly depressed. To the outside world, I looked like an empty withered branch. However, inwardly, God was taking me on a journey. The more time I spent in solitude, the quieter my Spirit became. I’ve never experienced such calm and stillness before. Dwelling in such peace fostered a clear mind. Eventually, God started to share His insights with me. He reminded me of His nature and His intentions. Sometimes, He answered my questions and taught me to pray. I kept journals, but often couldn’t write fast enough. Socially, it was a very lonely time. Everyone else seemed to be progressing with their own lives and left me behind. However, Spiritually, it was the most exhilarating season I’ve ever had. My understanding of God was completely revamped. My interactions with Him completely changed.
Suddenly, this solitary season finished. Within a month, me and my husband both had new jobs. It was difficult adjusting to a completely different schedule. However, the most frustrating part was that God has also changed how He communicated with me. Suddenly, the flow of insights stopped. He became quiet… even silent.
I could still sense His presence, but He remained quiet as I struggled to adjust to my new work environment. This was the time I could really use His wisdom. However, no matter how much I prayed and waited, there was only silence from Him. “Did I do something wrong?” I wondered. “Did I somehow offend God and drove Him away?” Immediately, I knew these were not the case. In the last five years, I had spent so much time with God. I knew He was not temperamental. I’ve learned that He was indeed slow to anger, and abounding in love. He was full of grace. And most importantly, His covenant with me was unconditional. This sudden change I noticed can only mean one thing – He was trying to teach me something new.
God has not changed, but my season and circumstances have. With the new season, God ushered me back into the world. He has transformed me during the solitary season, and built up my spiritual identity. I was no longer the same person I was five years ago. It’s time to learn how to interact with the world again as the new me. It’s time to put what I’ve learned to practice.
I hated it at first! Gone were the deep peace and intimate dialog in the middle of the night. Without the familiar sense of affirmation, I second guessed every decision I made. Going to work was like going to a battlefield every day. But eventually, I started to see God’s fingerprints showing up in new ways. It felt like God was taking off His “training wheels” in my life. And as I learned to walk with God in His silence, I gained more confidence, and learned to pick up His silent cues in unexpected places. After a few months into this new phase, I finally understood what God was trying to teach me in this particular season. Honestly, it hasn’t been easy to adjust. However, now that I see His purpose and intention, I’m excited to partner with Him in the new routine.
Scripture often refers to this idea of seasons and timing. The sons of Issachar were described as men that understood the times and understood what Israel should do. (1 Chron. 12:32) There’s the beautiful poetry in Ecclesiastes 3 which reminds us there’s an appointed time for everything. Jesus Himself have said a few times that His time has not yet come. (John 2:4, 7:8) God is purposeful and intentional, and He has not changed. He is still purposeful and intentional in our lives today. The challenge for us is to be open and find out what His purpose is for this particular time of our lives. This way, we will know how to work with God, and not against Him. Then we can receive the fullest of what God intends for us in every season.
Maybe you’ve also felt like something in your life has changed. The old routines just don’t help you connect with God like before. Perhaps you have entered into a new season like me, and God is stretching you in new ways. With a new season comes new mana – fresh perspective and discoveries. Be encouraged, it may feel uncertain at times, but God is still the same. May all of us who are in transition be able to let go of the old, embrace the new and receive the fullness He has instore for us.