New Zealand is currently in transition between autumn and winter. While I know that this brings mixed feelings to many people who still mourn the loss of summer as it becomes adistant memory, the transition does bring a silver lining – a golden light with gorgeous sunrises and sunsets every day.
While all seasons are different, and some are favoured more than others, each season has its own kind of beauty too.
Life is much the same for us, with a myriad of experiences and emotions throughout our different seasons - joy, pain, heartache, celebration, change, grief. The list could go on!
In so many ways, the perfect imagery to describe this for us is the changing seasons in nature – I just love how God works so beautifully through his creation to show us this. Spring, summer, autumn and winterare different from each other, with each having a unique and necessary purpose.
Spring seasons are for new life, fresh starts and times of growth. Summer is for celebration and enjoying the fruitful harvest. Autumn seasons are where we start to see things come to an end, and winter is hard, cold, lonely, where all we can do is trustthat spring will come again.
Not every season is summer
We know in our heads that we experience a huge range of seasons throughout life, but for some reason, we always seem surprised when we land in these winter seasons. We expect different seasons but we also expect every one of them to be spring or summer, the fruit bearing seasons. But nature, and life,doesn’t work that way. Seasons flow in a circle, and spring doesn’t come without the autumn and winter before it.
We need to embrace the winter seasons, knowing that these are just as necessary even if they’re not as enjoyable. We shouldn’t beat ourselves up when we find ourselves in a winter season where things are hard and we don’t seem to be succeeding or bearing fruit, because this is all part of life too.
Bethel Music’s Amanda Lindsey Cook said in an interview with Worship Magazine, “We were never meant to live in an endless summer, there is a fall and a winter, and it’s necessary and it’s beautiful. If we learn to surrender to it rather than resist, it actually ends up growing us into the kind of tree that we want to be, the kind of tree that we dream about being when we’re a tiny seed dying on the ground, wondering why we’re dying, and that’s because it’s actually time to grow.”
She gives such a beautiful picture – the spring of growth and the summer of fruit can only come if we surrender to the winter before it.
My winter in Canada
This has certainly been my own personal experience. After starting to really struggle a few years ago, I spent a few months in Canada for a winter season, both literally and metaphorically! Since coming back to New Zealand, I feel like I’m now in that transition from winter to spring, where I’m sowing seeds and making small investments to build good foundations for my future.
I would say that my personality defaults to constantly wanting to be in a summer season, where everything has to be joyful and positive, so it’s been really hard to sit in winter.But I’ve had to surrender and accept this season for what it is, sowing small seeds behind the scenes, and trusting that these seeds will bloom in future springs and summers to come. That makes the hard investment worth it.
Seasons aren’t forever
Because that’s also the beauty of seasons – every season has a start and an end, and they are not forever! So by accepting this, there comes a real freedom in embracing the season that you’re in, and giving yourself the opportunity to ask yourself, “Inthis season, how does God want to speak to me and speak through me?”
If you’re in a winter season right now, don’t resist it or put pressure on yourself to get out of it. Time will pass, and spring will come.
If you’re in a summer season at the moment and life is full of joy, have compassion for your friends in winter. It’s also good toacknowledge that this won’t last forever, and sowhen things start to slow down or go wrong, remember not topanic. It’s just the end of one season, moving into the next.
Circle of life
The circle of life isn’t just a cute song from The Lion King. It’s a real phenomenon that God has designed in the beauty of creation, and into our own lives. Don’t run away from it but embrace it. Ecclesiastes chapter 3, verse 1 says “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens”, whether that’s good or bad, summer or winter. God’s still got you.
Rebecca Howan is from Wellington, New Zealand, where she works as an ExecutiveAssistant in the humanitarian sector. She worships and serves at The Salvation Army, and is passionate about music, travelling the world and building community.
You can read Rebecca’s previous columns athttps://www.pressserviceinternational.org/rebecca-howan.html