Recently while on a college visit with my daughter, I became keenly aware of two significant spiritual truths.
One, God does answer all of our prayers. Two, just because the answer received is not the answer we hoped, even prayed for, doesn't mean our prayer hasn't been heard by God and answered. I suppose there is a third significant truth woven here... Three, there is such a phenomenon as "God’s Time." God’s time is not bound by logic or reason or any details remotely resembling the measure of time as we know it.
What prayers of yours seem to be unheard and unanswered by God? Do your prayers suggest answers laced with a timeline you have established?
During a recent conversation with a good friend, she used the term "winter season" to describe the times of our lives when we feel dull, disengaged, disinterested, dormant, and even absent from God. On the contrary, these winter seasons are the times when are faith roots are being shaped and strengthened by God. Unknowingly to us, God is present within our lives, planting seeds within us during these winter seasons that ever so slowly begin to root and take hold for his future purpose. We have no idea God is working in us and through us during these latent, quiet times. We are accustomed to busily doing and moving to be productive; we have a hard time believing meaningful work is being completed while we feel so disconnected and detached.
During this "winter season," we may believe our prayers are falling senselessly into the air and have been ignored and unheard by God. We may begin to be more critical of ourselves, blaming ourselves for having done something at some specific time that has caused God not to be interested in hearing our prayers. Or possibly, God is teaching us a lesson in response to behavior we displayed because we felt tired and overwhelmed. Or during the winter seasons, we may become bored with ourselves and believe we need to undergo an "extreme makeover" in order for God to become more interested in hearing and answering our prayers.
These winter seasons are best treated with patience and inward reflection, recognizing that there is a beginning and end to seasons and this winter season will end and give away to a spring season. During this new spring season, we will become increasingly aware of God’s presence within our lives and his answers to our prayers. We perceive an understanding of God’s purpose within our lives. Sometimes, we experience a spring awakening from a dormant winter season when our relationship with God may have seemed distant and disconnected to a more personal relationship with God feeling much more connected and engaged. This transformation from winter to spring is comparable to an adolescent’s growth spurt when overnight physical changes seem to appear.
Have you or anyone you know experienced a spiritual growth spurt? It may be an "Ah-Ha moment" when you suddenly become aware of God’s presence within your life and his message to you. Or it may feel almost like a lightening bolt strike, you are literally stopped in your tracks by God’s divine presence within your life and his plan for you.
Almost always, these spiritual growth spurts will follow a more quiet, reflective time in our lives, and sometimes they may even follow an extremely dark, painful time in our lives. Sometimes, we transition from winter season to spring season ever so gently; we are hardly aware of our awakening and spiritual growth changes caused subtly by God and have literally transformed us. We may begin to notice that we hear others’ laments differently and with more compassion, or we respond differently and with more patience, or we notice that we have missed our relationship with God and we pray differently and with more heart and engagement. We want to be reconnected with God and we pursue our relationship with God with renewed passion.
As we enter this winter season, be intentional in your relationship with God and thank him for this time in your life. Recognize this season of imposed hustle and bustle and seemingly dormant spiritual time is actually a time for inward reflection. God is at work within you, preparing you for what lies ahead. While we are distracted by a holiday to-do list that seems to grow exponentially overnight, at the top of your to-do list or input as an alert on your smart phone, include this daily reminder: Winter = DORMANT
Winter season is God’s time to shape and strengthen your spiritual roots, sowing purposeful seeds within you that will emerge in God’s time. Winter season is a time for deliberate, occurring often reflective, meaningful periods that are absent of motion and anxious apprehension giving away to tranquil peacefulness.
O ccurring often
A bsence of motion
N ot anxious
T ranquil peacefulness
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Everything Has Its Time
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.