Part 3: Knowing What Season You’re In
“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1 NKJV
Seasons are cyclical, and just like we experience seasons in the natural, so we experience natural rotations through spiritual seasons. Each one has a unique purpose in our lives and knowing what season we are in now can help us navigate more clearly what we are experiencing spiritually. We can also start to anticipate and prepare for what season we will most likely step into next.
Some of our deepest frustrations come from doing the right thing – at the wrong time. So whenever I start tuning into God for vision for the future, or clarity on where I’m at now, one of the most important things I ask for is revelation about what season I’m in. That includes understanding how far I am into that season and knowledge or revelation on whether I’m about to approach a change, or shift in seasons. (And if so, how quickly that change is coming.) This is so important because it helps keep us from stepping out of God’s timing. It helps us ensure that we not just do the appointed thing – but that we do the appointed thing – at the appointed time.
For the vision is yet for an appointed time;
But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
Because it will surely come,
It will not tarry.
Habakkuk 2:3 NKJV
Unlike winter, spring, summer and fall, spiritual seasons can occur at different times of the year and last for longer or shorter periods than the typical 3 month duration of a natural season. It’s all relationally-driven and unique to where we are in our individual journeys with God. But no matter what season we find ourselves in or heading into, one principle remains the same: we must exercise patience and allow the fullness of each season to have it’s complete work in our lives.
But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing. James 1:4 AMPC
As someone who loves the fall and would stay there 365 days of the year if I could, there are three things I’ve come to understand about navigating seasonal changes well:
a.) Our nature is to insulate ourselves from the seasons we don’t particularly care for. For example, I don’t like the heat. So in the summer, I tend to not “lean into” the beauty of what summer can bring and I instead spend most days inside, with the air conditioner set at 65 degrees, counting down the days til fall reappears. Some of us may be that way when it comes to winter. Whatever the case may be, climate preferences are one thing. But here’s what God has been showing me lately: We can tend to insulate ourselves spiritually speaking too. And unfortunately, because of the discomfort or preference some spiritual seasons can bring, we can end up missing the beauty of what God is doing in us during all the seasons He takes us through.
He has made everything beautiful and appropriate in its time. Ecclesiastes 3:11a AMP
Understanding and valuing that there is a divine purpose for each season can really help us not just endure it, but embrace and enjoy it. One of my prayers going into this year is simply this, “God, don’t let me insulate myself from the seasons You take me through this year.” Both in the natural and in the spiritual, I want to do what I can to soak it all in and learn to value what He’s doing at all times.
b.) Secondly, I’ve learned that seasons overlap. And this is important to recognize because if we’re not careful, we can we try to rush on to the next season prematurely.
Just last weekend my family and I went hiking. It’s winter here in NC, and in the next week or so, there’s a chance of snow in our forecast. Yet last weekend you would have thought we were in the middle of Spring! The signs began to appear that indicate spring will indeed, be here soon. But it’s not here…..yet. If I had misinterpreted that sign though, and packed away all our winter clothing and pulled out all our shorts and tank tops we’d be in trouble….and frustrated! We’d be ill-equipped for the season we are actually still in.
Signs of upcoming season changes can bring us hope, provide glimpses of where we’re heading, and tell us we’re approaching a shift soon. But they’re just that, signs. I can already tell you, there will be a period of time between winter and spring when some of the trees will continue to appear bare, dry, and colorless, while others will start to bloom and flowers will begin to blossom in vibrant color. Here’s whats important to recognize: it’s in those periods of time – where we live in the tension of two opposing realities – when we must manage our transitions well and be okay with the fact that some remnants of what has been will have to co-exist with what is about to be. Don’t rush the process by misinterpreting a sign as an actual season change. You can end up planting seed or harvesting your grain at the wrong time.
c.) Thirdly, if we’re not careful, we can remain in seasons we love far beyond their time of completeness. And when we do that, we stunt our growth and development.
No one has to nudge us to pack up our bags and move on from seasons that are particularly painful or uncomfortable. It’s the ones we love, though, where we can get stuck.
I have found this most usually manifests itself in what our typical go-to’s are. God may be trying to expose us to new things or grow us in certain areas, yet we continue camping at the same spiritual sights. We feed from the same spiritual sources. We attend the same conferences. Tune in to the same teachers. Listen to the same music. Practice the same disciplines. In other words, we experience a certain season and we enjoy it so much (or think that’s all there is) that we try and replicate that season throughout the entire year. We continue eating the same spiritual diet – indulging in the fruit of summer, if you will, all year long, covering ourselves in the same spiritual clothing, because it’s what we know and it’s what is comfortable. And we can miss God entirely.
“The ravens brought him (Elijah) bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook. And it happened after a while that the brook dried up….” 1 Kings 17:6-7a NKJV
Here’s what we must recognize: most prophetic words and prophetically speaking, seasons have a shelf life. And when God speaks to us prophetically about our year or what lies ahead, we can oftentimes end up “remaining at the brook” too long, thinking we’re being faithful, when actually, that season has come to a close and it’s time to move on. When the brook dried up, God provided provision for Elijah from somewhere else. A widow, some distance away.
As seasons change, so must our spiritual diets change. Our “clothing” – what we “wrap ourselves in” – our spiritual gear, or armor – has to change to match our seasons. Of course, its important to remain planted wherever God has placed us – with the body of believers we fellowship and worship with – and always deeply connected to our families, but we must stay tuned into where God is leading us. And not camp out in a season beyond it’s time simply because it’s comfortable.
So how do we know what season we’re in or what season we’re heading into? As I wrap up this post, I’m going to give you some things to consider. But really, this must ultimately be prayerfully discerned between you and God. Passages such as Ecclesiastes 3 are great to meditate on or pulling up scriptures that speak specifically about the seasons. God can use that to highlight to you where you’re at.
But let’s start with right now. How would you describe the season you are in at this very moment? Again, knowing where you are will give you greater understanding as to what you’re experiencing and it will help you anticipate and prepare for what season you will most likely step into next.
Winter seasons are somewhat “quiet”, spiritually speaking. They’re what I call “black and white” seasons. Not very vibrant. Not very colorful. (Though now and then, you’ll spot a bright red cardinal fly across the landscape. That’s just God’s way of telling you He’s there.) Winters are cold. It can seem like it takes more effort to “warm up” spiritually speaking. And it does. Winter’s a time we must tend the fire on our hearts a little more closely. Winters represent dormancy. And dormancy is always about Sabbath rest and building up strength and energy for the harvest that lies ahead. As I mentioned in my last post, winters can feel like you’re being “stripped”. They’re naturally seasons of “pruning” where everything is laid bare, and that can make us feel exposed, cold, or even barren. They’re times when we typically exist on what has been stored up from previous seasons of harvest. But it’s a great time to tune in, reflect and prepare. Because what other seasons may conceal, winter seasons expose. How well we prepare and tune in will have a direct impact on the harvest of Spring. For me personally, winter seasons have always been the ones where the most vision for the future emerges.
“The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.” Isaiah 55:10-11 NLT
Spring season is when our senses come alive. It’s as though someone flips on the switch and the world bursts into color. Blooming. Booming. Fragrance. Sound. A supernatural energy catapults us into action. What previously took so much energy suddenly doesn’t anymore. It’s a time to plant according to what has previously been revealed, but also a time to harvest. Spring is a time of work. Oftentimes requiring us to plow new and hard soil. “Allergy season” kicks in, which means we must keep our spiritual defenses strong in order for us to make the advances we are meant to make during this time. Because ultimately, spring is a time to take new ground:
It happened in the spring of the year, at the time when kings go out to battle…2 Samuel 11:1a NKJV
Summer – the full warmth of the sun on our skin. In order to stay vibrant and radiant, we need spiritual water and refreshing more than ever. Daily. Yesterday’s drink won’t carry us through for today. Lest we become scorched. We begin to see the first evidences of what we planted in the previous season, (First a leaf blade pushes through, then the heads of wheat are formed, and finally the grain ripens… Mark 4:28b) These are seasons we can be tempted to stop moving forward, but:
He who gathers during summer and takes advantage of his opportunities is a son who acts wisely, But he who sleeps during harvest and ignores the moment of opportunity is a son who acts shamefully. Proverbs 10:5 AMP
Fall has a way of ushering in the entire cycle into rotation for me all over again. It’s a time of major transition as we start harvesting the growth that spring and summer bring. The leaves from our previous seasons of growth begin to “fall”, yet have a way of wrapping around us, like falling leaves come and guard the base of a tree. It is a time of Thanksgiving, a time when fresh new winds blow. A time for storing for the winter that is sure to come. The rains fall, but it’s a different type of rain. Not like the spring rain.
“…then He will send the rains in their proper seasons—the early and late rains—so you can bring in your harvests of grain, new wine, and olive oil. Deuteronomy 11:14 NLT
I know this post was a tad longer than my usual. But I do hope it has helped shed some light on how to pursue God for revelation of what season you’re in. I close by leaving you this scripture. One that used to confound me, until I understood that if we can embrace and enjoy what God is doing in us in each changing season, then yes, we truly can thrive, understanding there are different fruits for different seasons.
May the Lord bless you and continue to make Himself known to you in powerful and unique ways:
But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. 3 They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do. Psalm 1:2-3 NLT