For the past week, I have been digging into my new book, “Spiritual Rhythms” , by Mark Buchanan. Mark uses imagery of the four seasons and relates them to the seasons of our life, as we navigate our relationship with Christ and, that relationship’s direct impact on our growth in our day-to-day life. I just wrapped up the chapters on spring, and I would have to say that spring is the season I am in at this time. “A lot of things had to die to get here. A lot of things had to be born” (p.95). When I first read that, I wondered, “Does he mean Jaime?” I don’t believe so. Her death, without question, was part of the winter of my life; a time when I felt both far from, and very close to God. If Jaime were co-writing this entry, I know she would say the same. But the seasons of my life are broader than just the incredible journey and monumental loss I have experienced. As I came out of my winter, what had to die was the false idea that I was called to just be a good father, just be a good employee, and to just get through this life, knowing that something better was on the way. In the early days of navigating my new roles as widower and single parent, I was sick at the thought that I had a long time to go before I would see Jaime again. I searched online for YouTube videos and blogs of other dads raising little girls. The challenge placed in my lap seemed impossible. I would lay in bed, night after night, staring at the ceiling, wondering how I would do what I had been forced to do.
The thawing of my winter has helped me to understand that in the midst of learning how to adjust to this new life, God still has things for me to do beyond just biding my time for eternity, or living each day thinking that Felicity was the only reason for my existence.
“The first activity of spring is to wake up. It’s to get up. It’s to plunge in, all senses wide…the accumulation of all winter’s losses and breaking down into something useful and life-giving, the hidden stillness of all sleeping things leaping up, tumbling forth” (p.94).
God promises to use all things for our good. This includes those moments that are far from ideal. And that promise of collecting our wintry disappointments is a season that is not bound by our wishes or our timelines. I know that’s not always encouraging news. But the wait is worth it – the pruning, the death of self is crucial. I have not always appreciated the painful moments of reflection and healing these past five years. God does not lead through this season to condemn, but to cleanse those hidden, deep wounds, so that we can enter spring, prepared for the growth and service He longs to see in our lives. My heart is particularly burdened for those who believe winter is their final destination. I am hopeful that the book I have begun to write and some other projects I am working on will give me an opportunity to share that winter does not have the final word- it is not the end – but truly just the beginning of something beautiful.