So today the temperature outside is two degrees below zero Fahrenheit (about -19 Celsius), due to an artic mass of cold air that has invaded much of the United States. We do get weather like this where I live, just not this extreme every winter. The ground is white, me breath is visible and we put on our warmest clothing. It is just how it is right now.
I have titled my books Finding God in the Seasons of Divorce, the first volume dealing with autumn and winter, the second dealing with spring and summer…not calendar seasons, but the “seasons of divorce.” The concept is not a unique usage of the seasons. People do the same thing with life, starting with the springtime of childhood, the summer of young adulthood, the autumn of middle age, with winter being the declining years. The suggestion of using the seasons in the book was actually my wife’s idea, back when I was organizing the topics, and she was right…it just fits so well.
I was visiting with a friend the other day who was got divorced some years ago, and she was thinking about getting one or the other of the books. She was trying to decide what season would be applicable in her life. She has been divorced for something like 15 years, and, to my surprise, she thought perhaps she was in winter. When I inquired why, it was because her ex was continuing to bring heartache and hassles to her life after all these years, by playing games with the children and the finances. Pretty stupid, huh? But her story is not the only one like that I have heard. When I pressed further, though, and described the topics in the books, she thought perhaps spring might be more relevant, and left with volume two
I have a point to this, but before I get there, it might be helpful to recap the description I offered to her about the organization of the book. (Those of you who have been divorced, though, will already pretty well know exactly what I mean by the notion of seasons.)
Autumn refers to the time when life is falling apart around you, you are sensing the loss of your family, marriage, home, purpose…it is a very scary and depressing time, and the devotions are designed to help the reader through it.
Winter is the time of desolation, when everything feels cold, lonely and empty. In this time, the comfort needed relates to the presence of God, the sorting out of grief, and trust that there is promise for the future…these are the kinds of topics discussed in that season’s devotions.
Spring is the time of new life, as the brown grass begins to turn green, the flowers and trees begin to bud, and one can see signs of life returning once again. The devotions here have to do with that hope and the rebuilding of life with godly choices, as well as wisdom in handling the ongoing entanglements and hurts.
Summer, of course, is the season of fun, life, energy and warmth, when life is good and things run smoothly. The devotions for this period have to do with remembering God in the midst of life, finding ways to minister to others with what you have learned, and reflections on has kept you through the hard times.
Now, back to the subzero weather outside. I cannot imagine living in someplace like Antarctica…or even northern Alaska. Remember C.S. Lewis in The Chronicles of Narnia talking about it always being winter but never Christmas? It must feel that way sometimes in those places, too! Here, though, I watch the storms blow and the temperature drop, and know that it is only temporary. The snow on the ground today, will be gone before too long. It doesn’t stay on the ground in our area that long, the sun shines and melts it with a few days, maybe a couple of weeks. We will have more storms, and more cold weather, but I know it is only temporary. That is one of the earliest promises in the Bible, one God made to Noah, that the seasons would follow one upon the other.
I don’t really like winter, but I like that it keeps the insect population under control. And I like how beautiful the snow, ice and frost can be. I like watching fires burn in the fireplace, and I like the feel of warm sweaters. Heck, I even kind of like the feel of vigorously shoveling snow in the cold! But I know in the ground around my house are bulbs I planted that will yield tulips, jonquils and crocus in just a few months. I know there are forsythia bushes whose golden blossoms will bring beauty to the landscape, and the redbud and mimosa trees will lend their blossoms to the sky. In winter, that knowledge gives me hope and the ability to endure.
If you are in the autumn or winter of your divorce, or maybe even of your life, I would encourage you to let the snowfalls and darkened skies remind you that this season of life is temporary, too.
Remember the blossoms you have planted deep into the soils of your life. Recall the roots you have sent down, that come next summer will produce the apples, peaches or whatever fruit your life will bear. And if you are nearing the end of life, in that coldest of wintry seasons, remember the promise that the next season will be the eternal sunshine of God’s heavenly summer, the most beautiful season of all. Because we can endure most anything, if we know that it is only for a time. God has indeed created the world so that the seasons come and go, and we move on to something fresh, the sunshine after the storms. Keep your eyes on the horizons of your life, for there is a new day dawning that can be filled with warmth, promise and joy. But in the meantime, you may have to shovel some snow!