The Winter Slow-Down

By January 21, 2009 faith No Comments

A glance out my window causes my eyes to squint against the sun’s glare off of the bright-white snow. The barren trees shake in the wind, which I know to be crisp because I can hear its whistle around the corner of my house. Long, blue shadows of trees and fences and mailboxes stretch across the yard. Our less-traveled road is snow packed, requiring much care and attention from us in order to avoid slips and mishaps.

Likely, this season will last through April, although many times between now and then the covering will melt away and a new will return.

Cold, snow, ice, wind—all these call for a slow-down. Hurry in such conditions will only cause slips, falls, crashes, and aches, pains, injuries.

My heart often requires this same sort of care when the cold rushes in. It’s a season of waiting, spiritual eyes fixed to the horizon, waiting for a thaw that’s sure to come. It’s a time of watching my steps, bracing myself against the frigid climate, and clinging to the Lord for stability.

Here in the cold I hunker down, pulling the warmth of the Word toward me, like pulling a fleece blanket snugly about my frame. I chew on the sweet promises of God, taking in the sustenance I need to brave the cold and be prepared for the warmth. For when the warmth comes, I want to be fully nourished, ready to join in the activity of life set before me; I want my spiritual muscles to be toned and my spiritual lungs trained to capacity. I don’t want to waste my winter training opportunities.

Sometimes in the heat of the Illinois summer I find myself in a spiritual winter, and vice versa. Spiritual seasons don’t run by the calendar, you see—they come and go in their own timing. We must wait and watch for its unexpected return. Sarah Groves says this in her song “It Might Be Hope”:

hope has a way of turning its face to you
just when you least expect it
you walk in a room
you look out a window
and something there leaves you breathless

I can’t influence the length of a season—those of the weather or of the heart. But I can rest in knowing that each phase we encounter in life has something unique to offer. Winter of the heart offers a time of rest and waiting and reflection and conditioning, something I need much more of. So I’m glad it’s here, whether it last a day or a month or more.

Looking out my window, the Illinois winter has dug in all around me. Even so, something catches my breath, and I am hopeful. God is good.

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