Snowbound

29861I plan to go through Macedonia, so I will come to you after I go through there. Perhaps I will stay with you for a time or even all winter. Then you can help me on my trip, wherever I go. I do not want to see you now just in passing. I hope to stay a longer time with you if the Lord allows it. But I will stay at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a good opportunity for a great and growing work has been given to me now. And there are many people working against me. 1 Corinthians 16:5-9

Paul is anticipating using his time and opportunities well. He wants to be where God wants him to be. He wants to spend time with whom he needs to spend time with – in this case, it’s with supporters, but in many times, Paul settled into spending time with opponents. He even accomplished much of his ministry from prison. In these verses, he seems to be looking forward to the prospect of staying with the people in Corinth “for a long time or even all winter.” Of course, he’s only going to stay as long as God allows, but he intends to take full advantage of any time he has.

Are you fully using the current season of your life?

Are you willing to settle into winter and take full advantage of all that it offers?

There are some things that are possible through the winter seasons of life that can’t occur in other seasons. It’s usually considered the bleak, colorless, cold, restricted, lifeless season, but it’s part of the cycle of seasons. What is accomplished in the winter season of your life will impact other seasons.

Right now, it’s summer where I am, and insects are swarming. We are accosted by more insects than usual because we had a mild winter. The extended cold of winter kills many of the insects and creates a better balance for the summer, but this year, winter has impacted summer quite differently. Increased insects affect plants, which means harvest is impacted. Other effects of the mild winter include earlier allergy seasons and an earlier risk of wildfires in many parts of the country. We enjoyed lower utility bills and more options for activities and travel through the warmer winter months, but there was a cost to the mild winter.

The same is true for a mild spiritual winter. You might prefer to experience less cold and dreariness but keep in mind each season impacts the next. If certain things don’t occur during one season, results will differ in consequential seasons. We need to use each season well even when we’d prefer to avoid the season altogether.

One of my favorite childhood authors was Laura Ingalls Wilder. I love experiencing the adventures of pioneer life through her words. The Long Winter chronicles the Ingalls family and others bravely facing the hard winter of 1880-81 in their little house in the Dakota Territory. Blizzards covered the little town with snow, cutting off all supplies from the outside. Growing up on a farm in central Illinois, there were many times when we’d get snowed in for several days. I enjoyed the adventure of finding things to do in isolation. Options were limited, but my imagination soared. For my parents, the isolation was a bit more challenging. They had to find ways to keep livestock fed and warm. They had to creatively solve complicated problems that would have been simple in mild weather. Their experiences were closer to the Ingalls family than mine, because they were the responsible adults who saw the reality of situations, but even then, being stuck for a few days in a large, sound house with many modern conveniences was nothing like being isolated on the prairie with much fewer options.

Despite the trials pioneers faced, the winter months were productive. There were things they could do because of the slower pace and necessity of being inside for days and weeks, even months. They mended and sewed clothes. They made bedding. They wove hats and knitted mittens. They worked on small woodworking projects and prepared ammunition, knives and other necessities they’d need once the weather began to warm. They used the supplies they’d gathered or grown in the previous months to accomplish important tasks during the winter months. How well they prepared for winter greatly impacted what they could accomplish. For example, because the daylight of winter is limited, and the pioneers had no electricity, they were dependent on candlelight to accomplish anything before dawn or after dusk. If they hadn’t taken the time to make candles, their productivity was significantly handicapped.

Consider winter from a spiritual perspective. How do the following quotes from The Long Winter challenge you?

  • “Laura felt a warmth inside her. It was very small, but it was strong. It was steady, like a tiny light in the dark, and it burned very low but no winds would make it flicker because it would not give up.”
  • “If only I had some grease I could fix some kind of a light,” Ma considered. “We didn’t lack for light when I was a girl before this newfangled kerosene was ever heard of.”

“That’s so,” said Pa. “These times are too progressive. Everything has changed too fast. Railroads and telegraph and kerosene and coal stoves—they’re good things to have, but the trouble is, folks get to depend on ‘em.”

Something else the Ingalls family was able to do in their close quarters with one another through long winters is read the Bible. Of course, reading God’s Word wasn’t limited to winter, but there was certainly more opportunity to dig deeper and share more when closed in the house together with less options and distractions. One of Laura’s favorite Scriptures when faced with troubles was Psalm 46. Let God use it to pour into you today.

God is our protection and our strength. He always helps in times of trouble.

So we will not be afraid even if the earth shakes, or the mountains fall into the sea,

even if the oceans roar and foam, or the mountains shake at the raging sea. Selah

There is a river that brings joy to the city of God, the holy place where God Most High lives.

God is in that city, and so it will not be shaken. God will help her at dawn.

Nations tremble and kingdoms shake. God shouts and the earth crumbles.

The Lord All-Powerful is with us; the God of Jacob is our defender. Selah

Come and see what the Lord has done, the amazing things he has done on the earth.

He stops wars everywhere on the earth. He breaks all bows and spears and burns up the chariots with fire.

God says, “Be still and know that I am God. I will be praised in all the nations; I will be praised throughout the earth.”

The Lord All-Powerful is with us; the God of Jacob is our defender. Selah

Every spiritual season, even winter, presents us with opportunities and responsibilities. Are you embracing yours?

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