The landscape is covered with snow. It is barren, dimly lit, neither daytime nor nighttime. A lonely figure dressed in a white robe is walking ahead with difficulty, a walking stick in one hand to aid her, the other hand clutching the shawl over her head and face to protect from the harsh cold. The destination is not in sight. Another figure is following some distance behind, a strong-looking man in a fur coat and boots, a gun slung over his back, walking confidently. It is silent except for the sound of the crunch of the snow under his boots and the occasional howl of the wind.
I learned about the spiritual seasons in a book written by Alice Smith called “Spiritual Intimacy with God.” In the springtime, you are in the throes of romance with the Lord. As nature awakens to newness of life, so you are receiving fresh words from the Spirit. Your awareness of God heightens; you see him everywhere. You feel a passion rising in you for a new work, which then leads into summer.
In the summertime you are strong in your calling. The seeds that were planted in the spring bear fruit, and you feel confident in your walk. This is a place where pride can creep in and begin to take the focus off God. So eventually comes autumn. In the same way that leaves begin to die and drop from the trees, things aren’t working for you the way they were before. You wonder what is happening. God is pruning, pruning, pruning. It is time to cut back anything of “self” that has entered into your life so that there will be only Spirit-born fruit.
After the pruning you come into your winter season. It’s harder to “get traction” with the Lord. You can’t find your place. You seek him for what he would have you do. You try different things and get short bursts of productivity, but it’s hard to sustain anything. You may even feel disconnected from God. Although it may seem like your spiritual life has gone dormant, this is when God is doing a deeper work in your heart. He is working “underground,” where you can’t see, down into the very root of your soul. It is for your good to bring you closer to him, and it is so that your faith will grow.
The Lord recently revealed to me that I have been walking through a winter season. He gave me the picture of the figures in the snow in prayer with my husband, and he has continued to give me revelation. First, the woman struggling along in the snow is me. The man behind me is Mark who in his role as husband is my protector. In the wintertime, you have less covering. You are an easier target for predators. My husband is to watch over me and pray down spiritual attacks. (The Lord gave me a picture of a wild animal approaching me, and the man shooting it before it got to me.)
The second revelation God gave me is that the man is Christ. The woman is still me, but she also stands for the Church. Christ is our protector. He is at the right hand of the Father making intercession for us. He dresses us in white robes because we have been made pure by his shed blood. I asked the Lord why he was walking behind me and not leading me. He told me, “Because I never take my eyes off you.” Even though we may not see him in our line of vision, he is always there.
Are you walking through a winter season? If so, take heart. It will end when the Lord has accomplished his work in you. In his time the snow will melt, and a seed will release a tiny plant that pushes its way through the earth. The air will become clear and warm, the birds will start to sing, and the gray skies will disappear. The Son will appear, and you will see him everywhere. Springtime always comes, and the romance will begin again. There is no set amount of time for this cycle; it is as individual as you are. Be comforted knowing that our God has a purpose for us in every season, and we are never without him.