When talking about the seasons in life, so often I have heard that “winter” represents death. It is your life nearing it’s end, your life began (spring), had growth (summer), you’ve reaped what you’ve sown into your life (autumn) and now it is finished. This last weekend I had a version of winter placed before me that I had never seen before. Winter isn’t death, it is rest. In order for new life to bloom in spring, nature has to be stripped of what it had been carrying; leaves, flowers, fruit, etc. Even branches need to be cut off, or pruned, in order for new life to begin.
We can understand that when we look at nature, but when we bring it into our own lives it’s not as easy to comprehend. This stripping away, this pruning, hurts and it hurts deeply. Sometimes it’s people, sometimes it’s objects, either way, there is pain. We want to be noble and say that the taking away of possessions and comforts isn’t that terrible and things can be replaced, but you know what? It is terrible, and yucky and painful. I have a cousin that was away from her home for years as she, her husband and children waited to hear what God was wanting them to do and the direction they needed to go. So many times I heard her say, “I just want a home again, my own home.” I had sympathy for her, but having never been there I couldn’t really get it. Oh, honey, I get it now. These things that have brought comfort and refuge have to be taken away, so we can grow.
No, it won’t be a home that is taken away for everyone, but at some point in our lives we all have something stripped from us; a loved one, a job, finances, comforts, conveniences. You can look at the stripping away of these things as death, or you can see them as the making of room for more life. If you leave a tree or plant alone with no pruning, it will grow and it will bear fruit, but it will die before it is meant to because it does not have the strength needed to bear the weight of the new life it produces.
I am writing this post for myself as much as for anyone else that needs it, because I need to be reminded of this right now. This post comes on the heels of a near hour-long session of gut wrenching, body shaking sobs because I am so weary of being bare and having no idea when it will end. Who knew that being stripped could actually add weight? I need to remember that it isn’t really heavy, it isn’t really death, it’s rest. There are new things, new life, new fruit, and new beginnings coming that, if I didn’t have this time of rest, I wouldn’t have the strength to carry them all.
I write this to remind myself, and whoever else needs it, to simply rest. Don’t try to reattach the things that have been stripped away, don’t try to find cheap replacements for them and force them into your life, let this rest strengthen you and let the new life grow when it is ready. God doesn’t strip and prune to leave you to die. He strips and prunes to make room for abundant life and fullness of joy.
Special Tip: While you are “resting” try listening to this song on repeat. It helped me find rest today, and I pray it helps you.