It’s a completely different landscape when the leaves all fall away.
I was riding my bike home the other day. I used to finish that sentence with something like, as I normally do; but lately, I haven’t ridden as much. Call it laziness, if you must, though I’m grateful to have had a couple of friends who, for the last little while have given me rides to work when I needed them. Whatever the excuse, I hadn’t taken this certain path home since the season noticeably changed from Fall to Winter.
A certain gloom hung over the city, leaving the ever shortening day with a kind of dullness. The ride home was shrouded with a mist that never went away, like the foggy sleep that sometimes seems impossible to wipe from your eyes. It was chilly. The speed of my bicycle whipped puffs of damp air across my face. My nose turned runny in its natural reaction to such an environment.
I turned a corner on the path and realized I could see the river’s opposite bank. It’s not that I’d never noticed before, but in the spring and summer, the leaves of the trees that line the river become pretty dense. For the first time, I became very aware of how naked and cold everything looked. There was no movement. Life was closing up shop for the season.
Nothing was hidden.
I could see the people walking, or biking or running along the other bank. In another section of the trail, there was a vast, open field whose expanse I hadn’t truly noticed up until that moment. Everything was in view.
It got me thinking about what God is up to right now. In my life, personally, I feel like everything has been stripped away. For a while, it was easy to brush past the elements without truly examining the root of why I felt the way I did. On the outside, everything might appear to be okay. We manage; we get through it.
But then winter comes, we have nothing to hide behind. Everything that we could keep around us to hide our nakedness, insecurity, fears…let’s just say, our issues, is no longer there; we have to see things as they truly are. Winter isn’t good at keeping secrets.
Maybe we have to face the death of things that might appear beautiful, or necessary, or even just desirous to show us what we really are; who we really are. No, I don’t particularly like what I see, but I had to see it. I must now look reality in the eye and deal with her. Winter will pass, and the spring time will come again.
Whether you feel like you’re going through a very winter-like season currently, or you experience one in the future, we can’t just expect to go dormant. I really believe that God is asking me, and maybe you, to look at the difficult things right now: to see the bare branches while nothing is hidden and go right to the issues. He wants something glorious and wonderful for each of us. But I don’t think we will appreciate those seasons of abundance if we don’t first recognize, acknowledge the importance and take full advantage of the trying ones.
Winter is not a time to idly sit back and do nothing; it’s time to gain a new perspective, to take an honest, difficult look at our lives and open up to whatever it is that God wants to do in us. We have to believe that, like the changing seasons, He is only preparing us for something fruitful to follow what currently seems lifeless.
It’s a completely different landscape when the leaves fall away…and I’m so thankful that they do.