The first few verses of the third chapter of Ecclesiastes remind us that life has seasons. There is a time of planting, a time of cultivating and watering, a time for harvesting, and a time of dormancy. That’s true of our spiritual life, as well. There is the hopeful beginning, a time of seeing ideas, hopes and dreams take root and come alive. There is a time for nurturing those hopes, a time when we see them grow and become viable, when our work is productive. And there is a time of reaping the fruits of what we’ve worked for.
Then there are winter seasons; bleak times, dark times, seasons of trial and tribulation.
Winter can be a long, cold waiting season. We may be facing an illness that seems to go on and on. A child may be going through disappointing and difficult times at school. A loved one may be suffering with little hope. It may be a winter of cancer, or divorce, or the death. It may be a season of lonliness.
Winter can be a time of unanswered prayer; a time when God does not feel present to us. We may wonder: Where is God? Waiting on God tests our faith.
But God has a purpose for winter. Snow accumulates and, with warmer weather, melts slowly so that moisture seeps down, deep into the ground to be released in summer. The cold winter kills damaging insects and bacteria and pathogens that would otherwise damage plants. And, one very interesting thing about winter is that vintners and gardeners can prune without damaging plants.
In the winter season, God may be pruning you.
God had Samuel anoint David as King of Israel. David was just a boy, a shepherd. He was anointed, but he did not take the throne for many years but went back into the fields to tend sheep.
God was preparing him. I imagine that day after day, all alone tending sheep, David practiced his slingshot until he knew just which stones were the best – the right size and shape and texture. I imagine that day after day, he set up targets and practiced. He successfully faced down bears and lions.
Then, one day, his father sent him out to the battlefield with food for his older brothers. And there, the giant Goliath stood, taunting the army of Israel.
You know the rest of this story. David somehow convinced King Saul to let him face Goliath. He went out to the wadi and found just the right stone. And then, he slung the stone and hit Goliath in the only place where his armor did not cover him – right between the eyes. And the giant fell dead.
In winter, God is pruning us, preparing us to bear fruit when the season changes. When we remain in Jesus Christ, we are pruned for the season that God has waiting for us.
Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful” (John 15:1-2).
In the book of Isaiah, it says, “those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. They will mount up on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (40:31).
In Closing, I Say,
Lift High the Cross