Seasons. They change. Summer to Fall, Fall to Winter, and Winter to Spring; all carrying their own significance in the process of creation. Nothing we do can stop these seasons from coming and going. Just as sure as the sun will set tonight, Spring will come in March (or May depending on your location). Changing seasons is part of life in the natural world. The animals know it and we know it.
Seasons in our spiritual lives are just as sure to happen as Summer in Florida will be hot and humid. You can’t change it or try to move locations to avoid the winter. We have seasons of joy, excitement, learning, un-learning; dying to self, hurt, and seemingly stagnant seasons as well. Each season has its purpose in the cycle of life and death.
Seasons are necessary and unavoidable. They are also needed for proper spiritual health and growth. We can’t stay in the same season the rest of our lives and I don’t believe any of us ever will. If you stay in one season too long, your growth as a follower of Jesus may be seriously hindered, even if you feel extra-spiritual during that time.
Imagine if it stayed spring all year round, every year for decades. What would happen? Well, trees wouldn’t grow to their proper height, an overpopulation in bugs and smaller animals that breed during this time would be devastating to the ecological balance of planet earth, flowers and weeds would drown us out, the soil would be saturated constantly, etc. etc.
Roots are what keep trees alive and decide how big, tall, and wide they will be. But the roots of the tree don’t actually grow much during the spring. They grow and go deeper into the soil during winter. So when we look at the tree and think, “Poor tree. It was so beautiful and full of life a couple of months ago. Now it just stands there and has lost its cloak of leaves. It almost looks shameful standing there naked for everyone to see.” we are actually seeing that tree at its highest point of growth and maturity. So we may be saying “poor tree” for now, but come spring, we will see that the tree is the one saying, “poor humans!”
The same is with us. There will come seasons in our lives when we may appear naked and desolate to the outside world. We may even feel naked and shameful, stagnant and unfruitful. But during this time, the Lord is preparing us for spring when we will once again bloom and the pollen of Christ will spread to others.
During these times we don’t feel so spiritual. We don’t feel that mushy feeling in our stomach when praying, fellowshiping, or reading our Bible. At times we are unmoved, seemingly unchanged, unable to express ourselves, or better yet, unwilling to express ourselves. There was a time when I thought that these symptoms were an effect of me being a bad Christian. I used to think that if a “dry season” or the river of my life should be moving, but instead, remaining stagnant, meant that God was angry with me and was punishing me for being a “bad boy.” However, I’ve come to learn this isn’t always the case.
I believe that the times I’m not feeling ultra-spiritual and extra-joyous are the times that the Lord is actually doing the most in me. It’s when He is working on me the most that I feel the least.
Though I recognize this to be true, I still attempt in vain to get that good feeling back. I strive extra hard in prayer, quit doing the little things I enjoy (like playing video games) and start reading more spiritual books, reading the Bible more, etc. Now, I love doing these things and the Lord reveals Himself through these, but when we begin to do it so we can once again capture that magical, mystical sense of “spirituality” we are doing it out of the wrong motives. God sees our hearts, He looks way beyond the outside appearances. So doing “spiritual activities” just to feel better are, in my opinion, a waste of time. God won’t even notice those things because He’s too busy working on your heart.
So, you don’t feel so spiritual today? Well, then maybe you are actually being more spiritual than you’ve ever been before. Maybe God is revealing Christ in you more than He ever has. Maybe the fragrance of your life is smelling more like the Lord to others around you more than ever. Perhaps during this time you are expressing Christ to people in ways you couldn’t even imagine or comprehend. So be encouraged that when you feel the most pain, or even the most numbness, that the Lord is still working, perhaps more now than ever. So don’t waste this season with vain attempts at feeling better. Instead, submit to the Lord and let Him do His “thing.” Besides, He’s the God and you’re the man. (You may be able to shorten this difficult season if you choose to allow Him to work instead of resisting and running.)