Hi dear ones. About two weeks ago we talked about resting and how important it is to allow God to be our source of peace. I also briefly touched on the topic of “seasons”. To be honest, I had no plans to delve into that subject but a few of you reached out about it. And well, here we are!
Now, let me just say that I don’t know every season that presents itself and I certainly don’t always put my best foot forward during the rougher seasons. However, I want to share what I have learned and I hope that you will do the same! Also, there are tons of different ways to describe the growing stages we go through. I just like to use seasons because we all recognize that term. Now, that we have gotten that out of the way, I have a question for each of you…
How sure is your commitment to the outcome? I’m asking because when I talk to people about the topic of “seasons”, I’ve found that if it doesn’t fit with a particular timeline they walk away or become discouraged. I’m sure that we all have heard the scripture Ecclesiastes 3:1 at least five hundred times. At least. Oftentimes at funerals and certainly when a well meaning friend is encouraging us that better days are ahead. But do me a favor. Pull out your Bible and skip down to Ecclesiastes 3: 9-11, 14. Read it with me. The word acknowledges our toil and yet reminds us that all things made by Him are beautiful and that He has done more for us than we could ever fathom. So even our toil is beautiful for it brings about the harvest that sustains us. Through our toil we are built and we learn to appreciate the difference between our tough moments and euphoric triumphs. Grab hold to the truth that whatever comes to pass is part of God’s will and always works out for our absolute best (Rom 8:28). Don’t you just love that He only plans for our best?! He wants for us to trust that the glory that’s going to be revealed to us someday will overshadow today’s hardships, as if they never happened (Rom 8:18). And trust me, even your harvest may have hardships. Example: when you finally start seeing positive results and your girl who was your biggest cheerleader in the valley disappears. That’s a hardship for those of us who heavily invest in our friendships. And I’ve been there.
So, back to my question. How committed are you to the outcome? No matter what the outcome may be. Are you committed?
Okay, good. Let’s keep going then. We only have our lunch break to chat, lol.
Let’s start with the plowing season. This is the season that builds our “spiritual stamina”. We toil and labor to build our strength and ability to tarry. Think of it as the time where you put in the “prep work”. You aren’t sowing a seed yet because the ground has not been properly weeded, dug and turned. You have to get on your hands and knees to get at those lingering weeds, pulling them up by the root. You will not be comfortable during this season. The plowing season can typically be recognized by numerous failed dreams or aspirations. Disappointment in relationships and friendships. Being overlooked or undervalued in areas that you believe you excel in. Or even just being consistently left out of what you believe to be His provision for you. There is no way around it but this season can be the longest and most terrifying. It feels like everything is crumbling around you and no one can help you rebuild the Holy City, so to speak. Anger may be your response of choice, ten times out of twenty. Frustration will rear its ugly head and you may kiss that frog. It’s all good though, because it is here that you make the decision to grow. You make that decision by putting in the effort required to ready your field for the seed. That effort requires you to let go of some people and situations. You can’t plow your field if you are too busy being caught up with your friends or acquaintances that keep distracting you from what God called you to. Effort means that you have to let go of the unforgiveness that may be lurking in your heart. So open the door and usher her out. Active effort means that you buckle down and stop giving the same excuses as to why you shouldn’t have to go through anything to gain something. HE ALREADY DIED FOR OUR SINS. It’s enough. If you don’t actively decide to work, then your field will never be ready. The harvest that you keep praying for cannot grow without your willingness to prepare for it. The plowing season is hard because it feels like we have been deserted or punished. Sweet friend, that’s not the case. This season is the one where He is closest. He is in the field next to you, waiting to discuss strategy and offer you a sip of cool water. He’s there not to relieve you but to sustain you. Get some word in your heart, a praise on your lips and cry unto Him. (Isaiah 55:6) He hears you and He is pressing forward with you. Keep going. Continue to do the tasks set before you with a renewed vigor and observe how quickly your field is worked.
Next up, the sowing season. We all know about the sowing season. It is extremely tedious and may require that we first give to others to receive the seed for our own field. (Luke 6:38; Acts 20:35; 1 Peter 4:10) But you know what most people DON’T say when discussing sowing? That you have to have properly cared for your previous harvest to ensure that you have a viable seed for the coming years. Yeah. That. Everything works together. (2 Corinthians 9:6-11) If you treated your harvest like it was OWED to you instead of like the life giving manna it was, you won’t have saved the seeds it gave. You may have used it all up for that brief period in time. Not taking into account that you always set some aside, in case of famine or drought. Christ calls us to be good stewards in all areas of our life, not just the current increase but for the future need. (1 Peter 4:10-11; 1 Timothy 4:14-15; 1 Corinthians 6:20) If you sow greatly, you reap greatly but you HAVE TO HAVE A SEED TO SOW. We sow our time, our effort, our gifts (and talents), our resources and our possessions (that includes money, loves) into the Kingdom. We do it because we understand that for something to grow there must be a starting point. Have you started mapping your planting yet? Are you going to have neat little rows for each “plant” you are looking to grow? I encourage you to consider listing out the desires of your heart and then listing how you can use them for His glory. List in what ways you can glean the seeds needed to plant a successful crop. What should you be taking in? What should you be removing from your storehouse? The sowing season requires so much more than just tossing a handful of “seeds” into the wind and praying they are carried to the correct destination. It requires active acts of faith. Planting when you would prefer to just eat the bounty. It requires that you believe that what He has planned for you WILL come to pass. Even if you can’t see it and no one supports you in the wait. The sowing season requires faith.
The pruning season is easily forgotten but trust me when I say that you know it when you are in it! The pruning season begins when the first buds of the crop appear. You start hearing back concerning some of the applications you put in months ago. You finally step out of your comfort zone enough to sing with the choir. You finally meet your once in a lifetime and this time you KNOW that he’s it. Then you don’t receive a callback from the interview. The choir director doesn’t ask you to lead a song. He doesn’t invite you on a date within the first 24 hours of meeting. You’re crushed but the crop is still growing, you can FEEL it. But it also feels like there are pruning shears clipping at or around the tiny fragile bud. That’s Christ making more room for it on the vine. During the pruning process God begins to cut away the unnecessary and showy buds. The buds that aren’t built to last. The ones that deplete the source and give nothing back. It’s during this time that He nurtures our needs and begins to sift out the frivolous wants. Remember, my friend, that we were created to bring Him glory (Isaiah 43:7; Psalms 100:3;) and to do that He must find us appealing and motivated to follow His will. Ephesians 2:10 says it so beautifully! We are His disciples and therefore we must bear the fruit that highlights and exalts His glory (John 15:8) and to do that He must take the time to cut away all that is dead, cancerous or overburdened. He frees us from the weeds that will try to choke out our bountiful harvest as we seek to know Him and honor Him because He wants for there to be no mistake concerning who provided for us (Isaiah 48:11). The pruning season can be incredibly painful not just because we are being “cut” but because it may seem that the harvest we were promised is being taken away. We are forced to walk away from 10 year friendships or the relationship you hoped would lead to forever. We find the door that appeared to be opening is actually shut. It’s okay. I promise.
Personal story time! I went through my pruning process right before I got married. Literally. I was courting my then boyfriend and I began to notice a shift in some of my friendships. Some were long term and some were relatively new but they were all important to me. I take my friendships VERY seriously. I found that some of these friendships became increasingly needy and clingy requiring that I change my life around to include them because they felt “deserted” by me. They began to poison and strangle the harvest God planned for me. These “friends” spoke negatively about me, my relationship, my relationship with Christ, my family and anything that I tried to accomplish. They did this all while smiling in my face and requesting an invitation to my wedding! But you know what? I still gave them a chance, numerous chances in fact, because I wanted to prove that I was a good friend. It was so draining! I finally realized that even though I had done nothing to deserve the ill treatment, I needed to proactively take the steps to change the situation or I would begin to let negative energy seep into my relationship with Rob. So, I followed the Holy Spirit’s lead and began to distance myself from those friendships that had become an ungodly attachment for me. IT HURT. A lot. But God began to show me how I had placed their acceptance OF me over His direction FOR me. I had to let Him prune me in areas that I thought were healthy. I had to let Him cut in areas that I didn’t know harbored disease. I had to lay myself bare before Him for Him to fashion me into what He desired to gaze upon. So, yeah. Forever friends were revealed to be seasonal friends, as I transitioned from Miss to Mrs. But I don’t miss ANY of them. Not one. What He desired for me to have is so much better than what I had. Even when it was great. And they’re cool people… Just for someone else. Because folks that will talk about what you know God has ordained for you shouldn’t be allowed to sit at the table with you to partake in what they (tried to) destroy.
As you can well imagine, you will be sore and a bit salty during the season of pruning. I can’t pretend that it will go quickly or that you will immediately see the reasoning behind His methods. Sometimes the pruning season can last for months, or even years. It will take Him as long as it takes you to stop fighting Him. To stop skirting away from the shears. It will take as much time as is required to rid your heart of the motivations that are not driven by a love for Him. It’s up to you, my love.
And last, but certainly not least, the harvest season! This is always the favorite time of the year, isn’t it. Habakkuk 2:3 encourages us to wait on the promise that is to come for it will meet all of our needs and desires. The harvest comes after our period of toil, when we can appreciate it most because of the work we have put in. We earn our harvest! There is something so sweet about the moment when everything we prayed and labored for comes to fruition. We finally understand (and accept) that His timing is not only best but sovereign. All of those times what we wanted to cut corners and just throw in the towel, seem like distant memories. But, I want to remind you that this is also the season where you have to strategically harvest your crop and set aside the seeds produced within the crop. You have to prepare for the next planting cycle while you enjoy the fruits of the current cycle. We cannot become complacent in where we are. The goal should always be to strive for greater. We serve a living and matchless God. How wonderful is it to serve Him with our continual best as we grow in Him. As we read our word, fast, pray, seek His direction, work in the Kingdom and actively share the good news…we grow. We get better. Let’s not be like Cain and be satisfied with okay. He gives us the best and has therefore equipped us with all that we need to have GREATER. A word of advice, as you are preparing for the next planting cycle, guard your current harvest. I did not say be stingy. I said guard it. Don’t allow people who you know have no interest except to fill their own coffers to enter your storehouse. Don’t share the contents of your storehouse with every passerby. Never allow your household to go hungry to publicly feed someone else, to receive a pat on the back. Your harvest was ordained for you, for a specific reason. (Luke 12:48) You are required to use your harvest for HIS CALLING. He knows where you lacked and therefore He filled the gaps to help you to effectively do His will. So, I guess that means that your harvest has a two-fold purpose. To honor Him and to bless you. Harvest wisely.
Whew! That was a lot! I know that we blew through that (we could spend weeks on this topic!) but I hope that you found it beneficial. Now, before we all head back to work, I have another question for you.
Do you love (read that as trust) Him on a seasonal basis? Or is this a lifetime commitment to going deeper and further, no matter your fear? No matter how difficult the season you are in may be. Take some time and really think about your answer. Your response could be the difference in how quickly your seasons change.