I loved starting our new series last week. This metaphor of seasons as a means to describe the rhythms of spiritual formation has the potential to be so helpful for us. I love the conversations in our church when we are vulnerable and trying to describe what God is doing in us. Using the language of ‘seasons’ both allows us to be more descriptive of what is really going on AND it allows us to focus on the goal of our discipleship which is FRUIT and not mere activity.
For example, if I say ‘I am in summer’, it calls to mind a description of God’s work in my life that is much more textured than just, ‘I am fine.’
And if I remember that the work God wants to do in my life is compared to ‘fruit’, then I can be comfortable with the reality that sometimes there are periods of activity AND inactivity- that all the seasons are necessary for fruit production. We can’t have the harvest of fall without the inactivity of winter and the planting of spring.
This sermon series comes from the book, Spiritual Rhythm by Mark Buchanan. He writes about growth in a way that has helped me understand some of our apprehension and aversion towards winter:
We have adopted a view of the spiritual life and church growth that is a variation on free-market capitalism. In capitalism, the economy, in order to be strong, must constantly grow. A 3% shrinkage in the GDP for 2 or more quarters is a recession. A 10% shrinkage is a depression. Three percent. Governments fly into panic, banks stock the moat, corporations start to implode. It’s wolves. It’s bubonic plague. It’s the sky falling.
Where else is constant growth an unequivocal sign of health? In human bodies, it’s a sign of obesity or cancer. Yet we’ve applied the standard of constant growth to our churches and to our spiritual lives. We applaud every sign of getting bigger, and fret every sign of getting smaller.
This is bizarre.
It is good to pay attention to numbers and size and growth, but the Kingdom of God often gets measured with different criteria. We can be always healthy and not always growing. There are seasons of increase and seasons of quiet. The Kingdom is different.
Sometimes you are in winter.
And God is there too.