One winter several years ago, when I was working as a teacher at a school, I went out into the playground during break time and saw all the children standing in huddles, very close together, to keep warm.
We do this instinctively, don’t we? When it’s cold, we draw close to sources of warmth – other people, a fireplace, a blanket. What I find interesting, however, is that when we are going through a Winter season of the soul – when things are hard, challenging and painful – we seem to do the opposite; we tend to withdraw, isolate ourselves and stay away from others.
I wonder why we do that. Maybe it’s because we’re worried about what people will think of us and our circumstances. Perhaps it’s pride – we want people to think we always have it together and don’t like to admit struggles and weakness. Maybe it’s independence – we want to stay in control and work things out for ourselves because we don’t want to depend on someone else.
James 4:8a (NIV) says:
“Come near to God and he will come near to you.”
God is our source of warmth when our soul is facing Winter. And we need to draw close even when everything within us is wanting to stay away.
Winter is an invitation to establish spiritual disciplines.
Here’s a few ideas:
- Kick-start daily bible reading. Read through the book of Proverbs in one month. Proverbs has 31 concise chapters filled with wisdom, insight and principles for everyday living. Don’t wait for the first day of the month to start. If today is the 11th of the month, just go to Chapter 11.
- Keep a journal. Write down your thoughts, feelings and questions. Write down what this season is currently teaching you about yourself and others. Write down things that you are grateful for in this season.
- Worship. Find your soundtrack for this season! I went through a very challenging season not so long ago, and there was one album that I had on repeat – it ministered to my soul in that season and caused me to worship in the valley.
- Pray with others. In the midst of your challenging season, be brave and reach out to one or a couple of people to pray with. You don’t have to tell them all the details. And I don’t mean to ask them to pray for you on their own (but that’s important, too), but to actually either meet up with you in person or through technology (FaceTime, Zoom, phone call) so you can pray TOGETHER.
Winter seasons are definitely cold, but it’s extending you an invitation. An invitation to draw closer to God – our source of hope, strength, wisdom and power. Don’t withdraw. He is willing and waiting.