Scriptures to read:
1 Corinthians 13
Sometimes in our lives we go through stuff that is really really hard. We hit this hard rock place and we just don't seem to be able to get past it. Winter seasons can be tough, but then you get to that dry place that is worse than a winter season. Sometimes it feels like if we could just see beyond, we would be able to convince ourselves that we will make it. If you know the future and you know what lies beyond the hard place and you can see the blue sky again, a place of provision and peace and rest from the stress of life and this world, you will just barely be able to cope and keep going, right? What if there is no sign of it ending...this hard place...this dry season? We call it the 'doldrums'.
What are the doldrums?
The online dictionary says:
The doldrums are what sailors have experienced for as long as they have sailed the oceans. It is that stretch of ocean that seem to never end. There is no wind to take you to land and there is no land in sight. You are stuck in the middle of nowhere with no indication when and how you will get out of it.
A while back I watched a movie about Moby Dick and some whale hunters. They got stuck in the doldrums and nearly all of them died. Most died because they gave up mentally. They were all exposed to the sun, lack of food and water and being stuck in a small space for a very long period of time. They were pushed beyond any human capacity. Those who stuck it out did so because they clung to hope that it would all come to an end and they would find land again. In the end it was about timing and there own endurance of the hard thing....waiting it out.
The doldrums they were stuck in reminded me of the seasons we go through where nothing seems to happen. You feel stuck, closed in and have no way of moving backwards or forwards at all. You remember better times, but there is no way to get back to it and you can't move forward any faster than time can. You have to work through it. You have to wait. You have to be where you are at that specific space in time. You have no control over how long you will be in that season.
This one thing I know: the only Person that can really know why or for how long you are in the dry season, is God.
Only those who have gone through such a season, will understand what I am talking about. It is really the worst place to be stuck in. When you loose even the power to make choices or the choices that you do make, seem to take you nowhere, then you know you are in the doldrums.
If I have you feeling down and depressed, that is not the idea of this post. I have found that in a dry season God is asking for your attention more than ever. At first you will fight it. "More time in God's Word? But I am already reading my Bible and going to church and praying and doing stuff for God." Well, yes. You may be so busy with the things of God or the things you think you are doing for Him, but are you really connecting with the King?
The second reason you might be in this dry season is because He is preparing you for the next season or a promotion in His Kingdom and He cannot use you the way He wants to, if you are filled with the things of this world. He needs to show you that you can actually go without it all. He also wants to know if you had to make a choice, what would you choose? God or the comforts of your life? It is actually not an easy choice for us humans to make. We live in a physical world surrounded by physical things and we have needs and wants that seem to never end. The only way for us to really surrender to God is to go through this "stripping of things"-period and realise what is actually important. God and not things. God and not our dreams or desires. God and not, yes not even the people we hold on to so tightly. God's will and not our own will. It is a power struggle between the two sides.
In the beginning it seems impossible. You feel like God is asking way too much of you. Then you go through a period of really rebelling and getting angry at Him for making you go through this. Isn't He suppose to bless His kids and take care of them in all things, you may ask yourself. Don't be fooled by circumstances. God is ever present. He is right there holding you up and making sure that you don't get destroyed. He will not let you fall. That is a promise from His Word and God is not a man that He should lie. He is faithful even when we are not. So you can rest easy and know that you know that He is your Hope.
The latest release from Hillsong is a song called "Seasons" and it is a perfect song for what I am trying to share with you today. Follow the link to read the lyrics and listen to this amaizing song. Click here. The song is written by Chris Davenport, Bejamin Hastings and Ben Tan. It talks about winter coming for us all and teaches us the nature of patience. So there are lessons to be learned from dry season times, from winter wastelands and from time spent in the doldrums.
My dad use to use the word doldrums way before I knew what it meant. He used it to state that he was feeling low or that some situation was causing him to feel stuck. I use to think that the word 'doldrums' just meant feeling blue or depressed, but now I see it in a very different light. I don't fear it any longer. I don't like it, don't get me wrong, but I don't fear it and I know as a child of God that there is always hope because of the greater plan God has in mind for my life and the lives of all His children. (Jeremiah 29:11)
The most amaizing part of the "Seasons"-song is the fact that in the first verse it talks about why we have to experience winter. Like seeds, we have to be buried so that we can grow. Seeds first need to die deep down in dark places and then after some time, from it bursts open new life. That is the real miracle: that from something that has died can come something beautiful. The song confirms God's promise to be loyal. Sometimes when life hits you hard and you feel there is but a tiny little bit of you left...like a little seed and you dare offer it in surrender to God, He takes it and makes a tree grow from that little bit you offered.
How would you feel if I said that you can know the future, right here and now? Yes you can. If you know God and how He works in people's lives, you can know that He will do what He says. So, when you read His Word, you 'know' what the future holds for those who love Him and for those who don't.
The other issue with being in the doldrums is the issue of time spent there. How long, Lord? How long still? You go through these phases where you think you have reached your limit. You cannot wait one more hour, minute or second. You feel like you have spent the whole of you life's energy just waiting for things to happen..and they never do. The chorus of the song encourages that even if the winter is long, you can know that the harvest will be richer for it. Even when you reach the point of not being able to wait more, you can like the sailors of old, hold on to the hope that Your Promise Keeper's promise is like that little seed in the ground. Though you may not see the progress, it is growing and the season for it to burst open WILL COME.
Seasons change. They do, right. We know this from experience. Winter becomes Spring and Spring turns into Summer and then we have Autumn coming around and then winter again and so on and so on. We depend on it. God created the seasons. He knows we need it to change. BUT He controls the timer.
I really personally relate with the second verse of the song. The Lord's love is compared to the low winter sun. If you focus your attention on the Lord and the light of His love, you will be blinded by it. It is that strong! When that same light and fire hits the snow of your life in the "doldrums", it melts and you feel renewed in it's warmth. I have experienced this in my "doldrums". Each time I was ready to, or really wanted to just give up because it was just too hard to hold on anymore, God with a soft touch would quietly remind me of His love and who He thought I was. When I realised once again that I was loved and validated, it re-aligned me some how. Once I took up my position in Christ again, I would be able to give just one more step...and the next...and the next. That is how I got through each of those times. Surrendering to Him is different than just giving up. God had to tame my 'wild soul' by taking me through the hard times, guiding me all the time, reminding me He was right next to me.
You may feel totally stripped even barren. I can relate. I am turning 44 soon and I have not been able to fall pregnant in nearly 9 years. Some women reach a point where they just accept it and other morn for the rest of their lives. For me it is all about God's timing. I know one thing. If He placed it in me to be a mom, He will be faithful to bring me to it. I have been a teacher for over 20 years and have experienced motherhood in one form or another for most of that time. I have had the privilege and responsibility of holding thousands of children's hearts and minds in the palm of my hands throughout my career, but I still have the dream of my own babies some day soon. Yes, I know the reality all too well, but I know my God and nothing...nothing is impossible for Him. I choose to trust His timing.
And then the bridge of the song, hits home right in the center of my heart. A statement of FAITH:
"I can see the promise. I can see the future. You’re the God of seasons. I’m just in the winter. If all I know of harvest is that it’s worth my patience. Then if You’re not done working God, I’m not done waiting. You can see my promise even in the winter because
You’re the God of greatness...even in a manger. For all I know of seasons is that You take Your time. You could have saved us in a second...instead You sent a child."
And that puts everything in perspective. God has a purpose...a greater purpose in mind for us all and He is very patient in seeing it come to pass. We sometimes forget this when we get so busy with our lives and our own 'stuff'.
When we think of Jesus and his 33 years on earth, we also think of how His tree saved us all and that it started in a very humble place...a manger. Then we read the rest of the story and know that there is more to come for us all. We know that we know that where we may find ourselves now is not where we will end up. God is a God of promise. Jesus is our Hope and in Him we have the Hope of Glory.
Someday He will come and everything will make sense to us.
The song builds up into a crescendo and end as it should with Christ. Like a seed He was given up for us all to die, His tree on Calvary saved us all and through Him we have been made righteous...the unrighteous made righteous. Can you believe that? None of us deserves to be saved but He did it anyway and He gave it all up for us.
So the encouragement I offer you today is that your tree, your harvest, will come. Your time in the doldrums will come to an end. The seasons of your live will keep turning. But know that there is always a season to come. Keep your eyes on God and eternity and not just on this fleshly world with all its trimmings and temptations. They are all temporary. What God offers us, is eternal and very real. Just because you are not shown the full picture, does not mean that it doesn't exist.
So make that choice today to spend more time with God when your life makes less sense. Spend more time talking to Him, when all seems lost. Spend more time choosing to trust Him and wait on His timing, than doubting or giving up on Him. Choose to wait on Him for however long He asks of you...even when it seems like nothing is happening or ever going to happen. Choose to BELIEVE. Choose HOPE. In the end, the only thing that you can really truly depend on in this world is Gods unending, everlasting, all encompassing LOVE for you. And we all know what 1 Corinthians 13 says: Faith. Hope and Love. But the greatest of these is....? LOVE. Love is all you need.
Dear Lord Jesus,
Thank you for planting the seed of Your love in us. Help us to live for you. Wait on You. Trust You. Thank you that You are with us in all seasons and that Your Word promises us that You will never leave us. You are with us in our troubles, dry seasons and dark places. Please shine Your light in those places all the time so we know the way HOME.