Hi everyone. Rob here.
We’ve just had the gift of a long weekend here in New Zealand. It also marked the beginning of winter. Winter can be a difficult time spiritually. There are a number of contributors to this. We’re often carrying cold symptoms around so we’re less energetic than usual. If we love the outdoors, or like me just enjoy a daily walk, the weather can disrupt those routines. Sick kids, shorter days, feeling cold, the washing never getting dry, feeling stuck indoors – all those little things can add up to a certain dreariness that impacts on how connected we feel to the God of life and hope and joy.
And yet winter carries with it it’s own joys; hot chocolates after the kids soccer, reading books around the fire, snuggling under blankets to watch a movie together, watching or playing rugby with your mates, jumping in puddles, walking in the winter sun, snow (if you get it, which we don’t unfortunately). It’s an opportunity to slow down so do things more slowly, read your Bible more closely, pray more deliberately and move on less quickly. God wants to meet us in the slowing down and meet us intimately in the depths of our hearts.
In saying that there’s a danger of slowing down too much! We can get in the habit of saying no to adventures or outings because it’s cold out or it’s raining or we’re feeling a bit scratchy and sniffly. God also wants to meet us in the challenges and adventure of life. This could involve taking an overseas trip to somewhere you’ve never been or, for those of us of lesser means, finding adventures in our own neighbourhoods. I find going to the beach in winter good for my soul. It’s too cold to swim but it’s still beautiful and in the winter emptiness it feels more wild and free. Walking in the rain may sound foolish to some but it too can be invigorating and life-giving. You could explore some shops you’ve never been too but have always meant to like the new café down the road or that chocolate place out on the edge of town. You could study a bible book in depth and immerse yourself in it for the winter. Try new recipes, a new author, a new sport or talk to new people at church. Doing something new in winter can give us the stimulation we need to resist drudgery and dreariness and find new life.
This might be a good time to break any agreements that you may have made about hating winter or with feeling trapped by winter. God has new possibilities for us all the time and that includes winter. Seasons exist for a reason and so my prayer for us is that winter would serve its purpose in us. We would rest and find refuge in God. We would explore and be stimulated by new things. We would snuggle with those whom we love. We would love more deeply, give more freely and pray more intimately. We would be comforted, challenged and stirred by God’s Spirit into a season of growth and change even as temperatures drop and leaves fall.
May the love of Christ rest on you and in you, and flow through you into the world.