When I first started gardening, my mother talked to me about “winter interest”. Yuck, I thought. I want to plant for action all the time! Over many seasons, though, I’ve matured into appreciating the subtle change that happens in the winter garden. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that winter is when all the important stuff happens. Without winter’s changes, no other season would exist!
When I first became a Christian, everything was new and exciting; I was seeing the world through the lens of freedom! I was looking for the big things: God, what should I major in? What should I do for a job? Who should I marry? And those are all good things and God gave me good direction. But then there was a deeper stirring in my heart – a desire to not just order my life, but to grow and change from within. I started learning who God wanted me to be and what it might look like to love the Lord with my whole heart. I prayed God would bring about these changes in my heart.
He was faithful. He allowed infertility. He allowed miscarriage. He allowed our sons’ deaths. He allowed my brain tumor. He allowed winter.
Just like winter in a garden, it’s through winter in our lives that God brings about the biggest changes in our hearts. In our suffering, in our lack, in the absence of…that is when God can grow us the most. While the above suffering may seem nothing but horrible and awful to the untrained heart, the heart trained in God’s ways knows what to look for, knows how to see God’s gentle, loving embrace. The heart trained in God’s ways knows how to listen for His whispers of encouragement and reassurance. The heart trained in God’s ways knows winter is paramount to eternity. It’s when all else is stripped away that we see the “winter interest” – what we’re most made of…what there is for God to do, and what He has already done.
I’ll admit that this particular winter of continued infertility since my sons’ deaths has seemed to be a long one. At times, I’ve felt it dragging on. As always, though, when I cry out to God to make it be over, to prove He’s still around and, by the way, does He even still care, He sends provision and warmth that make me snuggle deeper in His embrace.
I pray whatever winter God may be graciously allowing in your life, that you will know indescribable intimacy with the Father that prepares you excitedly for the spring that is yet to come.
27 Why do you complain, Jacob?
Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the LORD;
my cause is disregarded by my God”?
28 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
-Isaiah 40: 27-31