Last night, we kicked off a new series with 20 Park called SEASONS. Something I truly love is kicking off a new series of preaching. There’s something fresh and exciting about a new series. I’ve wanted to do a series on seasons over the past few years, but I’ve never done it. Something always held me back. Last night, we focused on the season of winter. What drives this series is looking at the place where Jesus, seasons of the year, seasons of the soul, and our current lives collide.
Winter is the season that feels as far from August in Tulsa as possible. It has been so hot, that we’ve forgotten what cold weather actually feels like. This is a great mirror to how we see life, because we often forget what the cold feels like. Why do we do this? Winter is the season when things die. Winter is the season when trees are bare, and the weather becomes uncomfortably frigid and gloomy, unless you’re one of those people who loves gray skies and frigid weather. Winter is a season God set into motion for the purpose of life, because life springs up from the ground after things die. We often forget what the cold feels like. How do we do this?
Friction creates warmth. The friction that keeps us warm is constant busyness. Busyness can be your enemy over a long period of time if you never put your phone, social media, meetings, emails, and relationships down for a while so you can reflect. So you can see what belongs, and what doesn’t. Here are some truths I found about winter.
We can’t get to a new season by skipping winter. “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” Genesis 8:22. Winter is a season that always comes. If we try and skip out on winter, we will miss out on things dying in our lives. We need things that don’t belong to die. We all want lives that are full of love, because love never dies. This is true. Love never dies, but in order for love to live, something in me must die. If not, it will crowd love out. For love to be powerfully move from our hearts into others lives, we must let things die.
I can’t live ’til I die. Jesus tells us in Luke 9:23, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Following Jesus means I do not resist the changes He wants me to make. I have to let everything die that is not aligned with Jesus. This is a continual process of surrender. I don’t think it is easy. It is daily. There are big things in our lives that are often unaddressed daily, and we need some times of winter to truly let things die that don’t belong.
Find a harbor to winter in. “Since the harbor was unsuitable to winter in, the majority decided that we should sail on, hoping to reach Phoenix and winter there. This was a harbor in Crete, facing both southwest and northwest.” Acts 27:12. Even though this passage is found in the missionary journeys of Paul, I think the wording is key. The harbor was unsuitable to winter in. How many harbors do we stay in that are unsuitable for us to winter in? Harbors of bad relationships, poor influences, or dangerous lusts. You can’t stay in a harbor that is unsuitable to winter in. You need to travel forward, and find a harbor that you can have a true winter in.
The measure with which you let things die will be a defining aspect of your future. If you want to be done with something, it must fully die. This is why Isaiah says, “Forget the former things: do not dwell in the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; don’t you perceive it?” Isaiah 43:18-19. One of the greatest ways to destroy your future is to dwell in the past. This is also one of Satan’s best tools against us. The only thing he may hit you with right now is what you did, because what you did still causes you so much pain. “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” If you want a new season, you have to move into the new thing. See it. Perceive it. An example of this is when married people have not fully cut ties with an old boyfriend or girlfriend. They wouldn’t let it fully die, so it grows back up again, connecting sometimes on facebook or a reunion. We must let things die completely in our hearts so that new life can spring up.
Winter is the season when your roots grow the strongest. This is something to keep in mind. When you feel like you’re alone, the world is against you, no one cares about you, you don’t exit winter. If you do, you’re leaving too soon. It is key for us to feel the things that we don’t like, and then to choose the reality of Christ to step into. I am not advising you to be a depressed person. I think so many people are depressed because they have pushed their feelings down beneath the surface, and won’t acknowledge the things that lie beneath the shadow of their smile. Don’t skip out on winter. When it is coldest, you are growing towards a blessed future in God. You’re roots grow deep, and you are more prepared to weather the winds and storms that come your way.