Patience in the Winter Seasons

When I looked at the trees and bushes outside last week, from a distance they mostly looked asleep - or even dead. Winter is like that. Trees look barren and skies are often gray. It's cold and dark and not the time of year we associate with growth.

peach branches in January
hydrangea in January
weeping plum branches in January
redbud tree branches in January

To be honest, winter is not my favorite season. I know some people love it, but the cold days and long, dark nights make me feel dreary and unmotivated. I struggle to feel like I'm growing the way I want to.

Are there places in your life where things feel dormant or dead? Does it feel like winter in your heart? DON'T DESPAIR.

What we see from a distance when we look at the trees and what we feel about our current season in life is never the whole story. When I stopped last week and looked more closely at the trees and bushes in my yard, over and over again I found the beginnings of new growth. It wasn't obvious from a distance yet, but it was undeniably there.

peach branch buds in January
budding hydrangea stem in January
weeping plum buds in January
redbud tree branches in January closeup

As I reflect on the photos I took last weekend I'm remembering to stop and look more closely for indications of how God is at work in my life. The growth may be small and it may look fragile, but God is working in me.

The Holy Spirit is also working in the people I love that I sometimes fret over. (My kids are 15, 19, and 22. Need I say more?) At first "glance", I may worry they aren't learning this or that fast enough. However, if I slow down enough to look closely, I'll see again that God is working in them and growing them slowly but surely.

I believe God is inviting us to remember He is the Farmer and the Vine and we are the branches and apart from Him we can do nothing. We may feel impatient and want to see more growth NOW, but He reminds us that growth is happening and more is coming. Whether we can actually see the buds forming or even when we can't, HE IS AT WORK.

Take a Moment...

Do you feel like you're in a season of personal and spiritual growth? If so, praise God!

Do you feel like you're in a season of waiting for growth to come and you wish it would hurry up? If so, ask God to open your eyes to help you see the small signs of growth you may have overlooked. Ask God to give you patience to keep seeking Him and for Him to help you grow when the timing is right.

There are always people around us in difficult seasons - somewhere in our community if not in our homes. Pray God would help us all see the small growth in each other and not be discouraged that it takes time.

Father God,
You have done so much good work in our lives and in the lives of those we love. Help us to not despair in seasons that feel like winter in our hearts. Winters are part of growth and rest and something may look dead and be very much alive and about to burst into bloom. Help us stop and look and thank You for what we see You doing in us. Help us pay attention and say thank You for what You are doing in those around us. Help us to always hold onto the hope we have in You.
In Jesus Name, Amen.

I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. 
Philippians 1:6 CSB