Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Seasons Change

It looks as though winter is loosening her grasp on us, and not a moment too soon. I love how God breaks up the bitter cold of winter and the suffocating heat of summer with the near-perfect temperatures of spring and autumn.
Now that I think about it, my spiritual life follows this same pattern…

I have times when I feel like God is very far away. I feel lonely and isolated. It is in these lonely times that Satan slips in. It’s never good to separate oneself from the body of Christ and I KNOW this. Satan works just like a lion. He searches for someone who is isolated and/or wounded, just like a lion does. Isolated, hurting Christians are easy prey for the Father of Lies. Our defense is weak when we are separated from other believers, and Satan knows this. I know this! Still, in my foolishness, I find myself pulling away from my Christian friends when I feel weary and worn out.  In times like these, I really do feel like God is very far away. My prayers feel empty. I have a hard time finding good in anything. My joy is buried under all the other stuff that takes up residence in my heart. It is easy for Satan to catch my ear in times like this. When I separate myself from Christian friends who remind me who I AM, Satan reminds me who I WAS. If I allow him to do that,  my isolation quickly slips into hopelessness.
Then, God, in His infinite love, grace, and mercy, sends someone to remind me that I am a Child of God, that Heaven awaits me when this life is over, and that no matter what happens between now and Heaven, Jesus loves me unconditionally. All my sins are forgiven, and separated from me as far as the east is from the west. I am no longer the person I once was…that person Satan likes to remind me of. Scripture tells me that when I accepted Jesus’s gift of Salvation and chose to live my life for him, I became a new creation. The old is washed away! Woo Hoo! What great news! What a beautiful reminder! Praise the Lord! I don’t have to live in that hopeless “winter” any longer!!! Sometimes I just need a reminder, ya know? Sometimes I need someone to say “Hey, what are you doin? Did you forget? The God of all the Universe loves you kid. No matter what anyone else thinks about you, when you gave your heart to Him, you became HIS child, and HE loves you more than anything you can imagine.” That love, the perfect love of God, makes me think of the promise of spring. There’s hope for us. We have hope because we have Heaven.

Of course, we can’t stay in the happy world of springtime forever, can we? If we did, what would we have to look to heaven for? Summer’s heat can be unbearable. There is a story, you may have heard it, that tells of a man visiting a Silversmith’s shop. The silversmith has some silver that he is working on. He heats it up in the furnace and, as the heat melts the silver, impurities float to the top. The Silversmith pulls the silver from the furnace, takes a tool and skims the impurities off the surface, and then puts the silver back in the furnace to be melted again. After the man watched the Silversmith go through this process several times, he asked “How long do you keep doing this?” The Silversmith replied, “Until I can look into it and see my reflection.” 
God uses painful situations to discipline us.  I was reminded recently that God does not punish His children, but he DOES use the consequences of our sin, the consequences of our rebellion against His will for our lives, to DISCIPLINE us.  And He will continue to put us in the “refiner’s fire” until we look like HIM!!!! Summer is like the fiery furnace of God’s discipline. This is the season that produces a harvest, but in order to get that harvest, we have to work in the heat. I don’t like it, but I have learned that God always takes me out of the furnace at just the right moment. And hopefully I look a little more like Him every time. 
And then there’s autumn. Ahhhhhh! The cool breezes; the crunch of red, gold, and brown leaves; crisp mornings and pleasant afternoons make me smile. Autumn is a time of such sweet healing after summer’s brutal heat.  God gives us this season to enjoy the harvest!  Again we can rest in God’s embrace. Again we can just enjoy time in Bible Study and prayer. It’s peaceful and restful, and God's blessings abound.

As I have gotten older, I experience the hopelessness of winter mush less often. I am so thankful that, even though I still have a lot of sin in my heart and rebellion in my soul, He has made me NEW. I am NOT who I was once was…and if you are choosing to follow Him, you are NOT who YOU once were either. I still get my share of time in the furnace of discipline. God surely isn’t finished with me yet. He’s not finished with you either. He’s not finished with you either.

I pray that you let Him use you where you are.  God has blessed me with a wonderful story to share and a love in my heart for hurting people and has opened doors for me to be able to share His love with so many. But YOU have your own story and the opportunity to give hope to people I cannot reach. You have to opportunity to share the love of Christ, the hope of heaven, the promise of forgiveness of sins, and the promise of a NEW life with people God has placed in your life. Please do not fail to take advantage of that opportunity. It is truly a gift. There are so many hurting people around us. People who are hopeless and are not even sure there is a God, much less a God who loves them so much He was willing to die for them so that they could spend eternity in Heaven. There is so much hurt in this broken world. I pray that God opens the door for you to share the hope that we have in Christ Jesus with someone who is desperate for hope.