It’s a New Season

It’s now March 29th- 9 days after the vernal equinox- and spring still hasn’t quite sprung in many parts of the United States. Tree branches are barren, grass looks grungy, and temperatures have been at least 15 degrees cooler than they should be at this time of year. Yet the calendar says it’s spring. The astronomers and meteorologists say it’s spring. The teachers and the text books all say it’s spring. But…

What do you do when what they say doesn’t line up with what you see? When your expectations fall short of what you’re experiencing? What do you do when God promised a new season of new beginnings but every path you take is a dead-end???

Seasons are a powerful and necessary force in our lives. They affect our activities, travel plans, attire, and even our mood. A change in seasons can usher in beautiful blossoms in one part of the world and tumbling temps in another; longer days in the northern hemisphere and longer nights in the southern hemisphere. Each season is vitally important to the sustainability of our world. If summer lasted year ’round, the earth would be a desert. And 365 days of winter would keep us in the Ice Age. Spiritually speaking, seasons are ordered by God to grant times of peace and prosperity (spring and summer) as well as time for planning (fall) and pruning (dying to our flesh, aka, winter). Every season is relevant to our spiritual journey. Although each season has its own characteristics (naturally and spiritually), it’s impossible for one season to operate on its own without the predetermined cycles of the other three.

“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

If you are experiencing the death of winter when God has proclaimed this to be your season of renewal- an opportunity for new beginnings- then be encouraged! Every season has an expiration date. The cold, fruitless, dark of wintertide may appear to be longer than promised, but that doesn’t mean that spring has not already arrived. Sometimes we focus so much on the depth of our despair that we miss the subtle changes in our circumstances. Case and point: we’ve gained 2-3 minutes of daylight every day since spring arrived last week. We have over 20 minutes more sunshine today than we did on March 20th. Sounds like progress to me! You may not have it all together just yet, but I bet there are some small changes that have already taken place in your life. And if God brought you out of winter weather before, what makes you think He can’t (and won’t) do it again?!

I know sometimes it seems like things are getting worse instead of getting better. The meantime can be a very mean time. Here are some pointers to help you get through…

Position Yourself

Astronomically, spring arrives because of how the earth is tilted in its rotation around the sun. The sun doesn’t move; we do. And the Lord holds it all together in the palm of His hands. He keeps us from destruction even in the death of winter. Position yourself towards the Son. Look to Him for your next move. It’s impossible to grow spiritually if you’re constantly spinning on your own. We are all bound to fail when we’re disconnected from the Source ’round which we’ve been created to revolve. Surrender your will to His and allow His perfect timing to perfect you in the process.

Plant the Right Seeds

There are two types of plants that sprout up each spring: annuals and perennials. Annuals are easy to care for, supply beautiful pops of color, and are relatively inexpensive (in the short run). It’s best to plant them in the spring so they’ll grow throughout the spring and summer.  But they are temporary. Annuals can’t stand the cold so they’ll die off at the first frost of winter. As a result, you have to plant new plants or seeds each year.

Perennials, on the other hand, are long-lasting. They are easy to maintain, come back year after year, and most are able to survive the cold. Once winter arrives, perennials die down to their roots but their roots lay dormant until the warmth of spring returns. And voila! New flowers and foliage appear again.

See where I’m going with this? Either you’re an annual Believer, a perennial Believer, (or worse- a non-Believer). While you’re waiting on the manifestation of your new season, be careful which seeds you plant. Annuals are a quick fix; temporary solutions to long-term progress. Rather than filling the garden of your growth with plants that will die whenever times get hard, sow seeds of faith that will survive the harshest of winters. Use your meantime to be proactive and productive. Connect with God. Surround yourself with other Believers. Eat better. Work out. Save more. Pay your bills. Get help. Clean up your mess. Do what God instructed you to do. Plant the right seeds now so you can reap a long-lasting harvest.

Although the cherry blossoms have yet to blossom and the nights are still brisk and cold, it doesn’t change the fact that we’re in a new season. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). It doesn’t matter what you see right now. If God promised provision, healing, triumph, and/or restoration…that settles it! When conditions are just right, your blessings will spring forth. Are you spiritually/physically/mentally/emotionally/financially ready to receive them? Do what you can and allow God to handle what you can’t. You’ve been in winter long enough. Don’t let the fear of remaining in your past keep you from living out God’s promises for a brighter future.

No matter what it looks like, God is still God. His position hasn’t changed. He is the same yesterday, today, and forevermore. His Word is still truth. His mercy is new every morning and His grace is enough to carry you through the darkest of nights. Hold your head up, stick your chest out, and bask in the Glory of the Sun. It’s a new season! Time to carry out the instructions you were given during winter. Stop trying to resurrect the parts of your flesh that God allowed to die. The Lord is already in position. Perhaps He’s just waiting on you to exercise your faith, cast aside your fears, and move towards your destiny. Commit this time to spring cleaning… out with the old and in with the new YOU!

Message from the Pew

While out-of-town on Christmas Eve, my husband and I drove past a random church and decided to go inside. We couldn’t tell if the Service was just beginning or just letting out, but we went in any way. Turns out the Service had ended about 15 minutes prior to our arrival. As hubby was chatting with one of the Elders in the hallway, I took a peak inside the Sanctuary and just had to take a pic. It was so pristine! I had been looking for an opportunity to get some angled pew shots in a church like this one. It was perfect! I took a few quick shots and hurried back out to the lobby.

Much to my chagrin, the pics didn’t come out as crisp as I had hoped and the angle wasn’t quite what I was going for. Being the photo enthusiast (some might say ‘addict’) that I am, I was devastated! Ugh! My natural inclination was to delete those 2 or 3 blurry little pics and forget they ever happened. I must have stared at those pictures a dozen times in disbelief. How could the moment I’d been waiting for- the moment I was skilled and prepared for- turn out so wrong?  Sure, I had the flash off and I was ducking in the aisle so no one could see me getting snap happy in the Sanctuary, but come on! At least one of the shots could have come out right. Geez!

I know you’re probably shaking your head and wondering where on earth I’m going with this here story. Well, hold tight, little Philly… I’m coming down your row in a minute.

A day or so later, I looked at the pics again (still in disbelief) and realized that one of them didn’t turn out so bad. I was so busy trying to get a fancy angled shot of the seating that I hadn’t noticed the Bible waving at me from the back of a pew.

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Seriously, how did I miss that the first 2,376 times I looked at this pic?

Fast forward to today when I finally decided to post this picture on Instagram- in memory of Sarai Sierra… a wife, mother of 2, and fellow photographer who was just found murdered in Istanbul, Turkey. I didn’t know Sarai, and I can’t even begin to imagine what her family must be going through right now. But I know that God sees and He cares about their pain. And I know the Lord will comfort them through this tremendously tragic time.

As I was posting this pic, the Lord gave me this message to give to you. No matter what you’re going through, where you’ve been, or what you’ve done, God loves you. He cares for you and He wants to work everything out for your good.

I missed the Word (the Bible) because I wasn’t looking for the Word when I went into that Sanctuary on Christmas Eve. I was looking to satisfy my photo fetish with the “perfect shot.” I wanted to get something from the church without anyone noticing my presence. I was so focused on what was going on around me that I missed what was right in front of me. Likewise, so many of us miss what God is showing us because our attention is elsewhere. Sure, we go to church. We just don’t allow the Holy Spirit to transform our negatives into positives because we’re more concerned with how we’re viewed than how we’re developed.

And then there are those of us who, by no fault of our own, get exposed to the darkness of life. We do all the right things, we’re skilled and prepared, and yet somehow tragedy manages to break in, steal our joy, and rob us blind. It’s not fair, we don’t deserve it, and it makes us question God. It makes us want to hit delete and go on as if the Lord is non-existent. It challenges our faith and prompts us to focus on what’s lost instead of what’s left. And it’s in this darkroom of despair that the enemy does the most damage to one’s frame of mind.

Child of God, your life is not over. Your past is not pointless and your future is not hopeless. You may be sitting in a dark place right now, but know this: every darkroom has a door. If you focus long enough, you’ll see that you have just enough light to help you reach the door knob. Don’t give up on God. Don’t let go of God. It’s impossible to get closer to your breakthrough while moving away from the One who provides the opportunity. He’d rather forgive you than condemn you and He’d rather heal you than leave you broken. Keep praying, keep studying, and keep going to church to hear the Word. And focus on God to reveal the Word. No matter what you’re going through, God has a plan for your life. Pay close attention. He may speak it in a still small voice or He may just be waving at you from the pew. Allow Him to lead you out of darkness and into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9).