I grew up someplace that didn’t really have any real weather based seasons. It was hot all year. Once in a while, it would dip into the 70’s and we thought it was freezing. Otherwise, just hot. The only real weather based season was hurricane season that brought a ton of rain with it each year. It seemed to just rain all day every day for a few months.
Moving to the midwest, I got to experience my first fall. The color changes were amazing. I had never seen that in person before. Next up was winter and I was so excited to see my first real winter and play in the snow! And it finally happened! I ran around the parking lot of the factory that I was working in at the time so excited to see the snow falling. My coworkers looked at me in disbelief and remarked that it was like I had never seen snow before, which of course I hadn’t!!! It didn’t take me long to realize that winter is my least favorite season. All the snow and ice. The shoveling and leaving super early for work to make it on time because of the slick roads and needing to take my time. The fact the fish don’t bite very well and we don’t get safe ice on the lakes close to here to try ice fishing.
Life has seasons too. Unlike the seasons that nature brings us, there is no order to them. There is no time limit for them. Life’s seasons seem to come and go at random. Sometimes they feel like they will never end and move on to the next season. Sometimes they go by in a flash and we long to be back in that season again.
Spring brings with it an air of rejuvenation and new life after a harsh winter. Summer is the best time for most flowers and plants to grow to their full potential and blossom and bloom with gorgeous flowers or food. Fall has a sense of maturity to it. The colors begin to change (gray hair anyone) and the leaves begin to fall (like my hair) and expose the bare trees. Last up is the dark and gloom of winter. Harsh and difficult to live in. Almost impossible to survive without the correct shelter and ways to keep warm. The grass begins to turn an almost dead looking shade of green and brown. The night comes quickly each day and combined with the natural gray gloom of the sky, feels like the sun will never shine again and the songs of the birds seem to have been lost for ages. But spring comes once more to bring that rejuvenation that nature needs to flourish once again.
Life seasons are much the same. There is a spring that we experience as life brings in some new changes. A new job, a new baby, a pet being welcomed into the family, reconnecting with someone, a new home, etc. Change can be rejuvenating and help breath some new air into our tired souls.
Summer is when life is going good and we just kind of cruise on through. Nothing major happens, we just enjoy the gentle breeze while sipping some lemonade in the shade. Not much happens here, just the usual.
Fall can be many things. Perhaps a closing of a chapter like leaving a job that we have been at for some time. Or maybe it’s realizing that your children are growing up and you’ve done all you can to prepare them for what is out there. Maybe it’s just using your experience to help coach and mentor others, helping them to enjoy their spring time.
Finally, winter is the least favorite life season. It’s the season of grief and pain. Losing a loved one, divorce, losing a job, financial woes, medical concerns, and many more. It’s a difficult time and just like the winter that nature throws our way each year, it can feel dark and cold. It can make it seem as though the light will never shine in your world again. Most people can’t wait for winter to end and a new season to begin.
There is a story in the Bible that has confused me for the past several months. In Mark 11:12-14, Jesus comes up to a fig tree and was hungry, but couldn’t find any figs on the tree and so he cursed the tree. The really confusing thing for me is that scripture specifically says that it wasn’t the season for figs. Why would Jesus curse a tree for not having fruit in the season that the tree would normally not produce any fruit? That seems like a very hangry thing for him to do. You can’t possibly expect to have fresh watermelon in the dead of winter, can you?
I’ve heard a few different explanations for what the story is trying to tell us, but none of them ever seemed to really satisfy my urge to understand. Then this week, I saw a very brief video on Facebook that seemed to hit the nail on the head. Jesus didn’t curse that fig tree just because he was mad at it for not having fruit out of season. The tree was cursed because it chose to stay in and obey the season that it was going through instead of obeying God in His presence. Jesus (God come down in human form if you will remember) stood at this tree and was asking for it to produce the fruit that he had created it to make. Not just an average Joe, but GOD HIMSELF, looking for fruit. The tree chose to remain unproductive. It chose to disobey it’s creator and not have the faith that it could produce fruit because God was there to help make it so.
How many of us are like that in our lives? During the easy seasons we are all about praising God and helping out at church or on mission trips. We love to wear or faith based shirts and go to the concerts headlined by the biggest Christian artists on the radio right now. We have people from church over to our home for dinner. We stay on top of our devotions and prayer time, our bible reading and worship time. During the enjoyable seasons of life, it’s easy to do the things that we feel He is calling us to.
But when winter hits….you almost feel as though the light will never shine on you again. You get so down in your grief and depression that you forget that His light can cast out all of the darkness in your life. It’s difficult to wake up in the morning, let alone early enough to do a devotion or pray. Soon, worship music begins to make you roll your eyes and feel that God must only be with the “holier than thou” people and can’t possibly be interested in you. You become distant and forget about what it takes to produce the good fruit like Jesus talks about in Matthew 7:17-18. Life is dark and miserable. You stay locked up in your home alone. God is calling you out of that season and into His glory, but are you listening? Do you have the faith that He can get you out of it? That He can take you into the next season where you can produce that fruit again?
In modern times, we no longer have to prepare for the seasons like our ancestors did. We don’t have to store up wood and food to survive a harsh winter. We don’t have to work the land as hard throughout the year to ensure that we will survive. We can just go to the grocery store or push some buttons on our thermostat and be all good.
But we DO have to prepare for the life season of winter. It is coming. There is no avoiding it. Life will happen and it will get hard. What we do during the other seasons sets us up to survive the winter and make it pass a little quicker and easier. Those other seasons are a time for us to create the habits that we need to have locked in before the winter hits. Are we actually praying with all of our hearts or is it just another check mark on the daily to do list? Are we really approaching Scripture with the Holy Spirit as our guide, or are we just reading it like it’s the latest Stephen King novel? Are we building the deep relationship with our friends from church or are we just going through the motions and keeping up appearances?
We have to be prepared to produce fruit because we never know when God may call on us. He has a funny habit of coming to us in the worst possible moments to call us to follow Him closer, when we are just trying to survive the day. We are called to produce good fruit, no matter the season we may be in. We are to produce the fruit of the spirit which is “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control” (Gal 5:22) regardless of our season. This fruit is available to anyone in your sphere of influence. When they see the fruit you produce, they will know that you belong to God.
Winter is hard, but soon the spring will come again and the birds will sing your their song to help welcome in the rejuvenation that your heart needs.
One thought on “Watermelons in Winter”
Awesome read Joe. It amazes me that you can just sit down and write something so powerful in a Sunday afternoon.
Keep it up!
Love reading what you have to say.