As we near the end of another year and the beginning of a new one, I’d like to share my thoughts about one of the ways the Holy Spirit works in us as Christians that I think we can often miss. I don’t think it’s the whole answer at all but it’s something I’ve been trying and testing in my own life and I think it’s helpful to consider. I’ll just share what’s on my heart and you can take it yourself to the Lord and to the Word and see what He shows you. Please feel encouraged to be discerning as you read and I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback!! Please share this with your friends if you find it helpful.
Have you ever had an experience where a particular part of your walk with God is just going incredibly well? Maybe you’re seeing LOADS of people come to Jesus or ask about Him at work or uni or school. Maybe everyone you pray for is getting healed. Maybe you’re just so excited to serve and lay your life down for others. Maybe you have a burst of creativity and you’re churning out paintings and songs and dances to the glory of God!! Whatever it is, it’s just great and you’re loving it!! Soaring on cloud 9! Then suddenly, without warning, it ends! Arrgh! Nightmare! You’re not riding quite so high any more! You break out in emergency prayers and start examining your heart for sin! Maybe you put in extra effort to whatever it was that was going so well and try to get your “mojo” back. Nothing. Nada. Zip What on earth happened??
I believe God partners with us to work in our lives on a seasonal basis. I know that for me especially this is an expression of His grace as I suck at multi-tasking and thinking about too many things at a time really does me in! I think that each season God brings us into is a season of growth because we always go from glory to glory but each one can look very different.
I’m finding that learning to recognise these seasonal movements is key to my growth in Christ because it keeps me from frustration, striving and self-righteousness as well as helping me to better partner with the Holy Spirit and what He’s doing in me.
In different seasons at different times I believe God gives us grace in a particular area of our lives to manifest Christ and become more like Him. During these times we grow a lot but having spoken to a few people about this and having seen it first hand in my own life, it’s pretty easy to think that things are going so well because let’s face it, “I’m awesome”. We sometimes get really full of ourselves because we assume God is moving in response to our commitment or our righteousness and so when the season ends and the grace is seemingly removed, of course we assume it’s because of something we’ve done! “Have I sinned? Have I not spent enough time in prayer or read my Bible enough today? Why isn’t it working??”
In different seasons at different times I believe God gives us grace in a particular area of our lives to manifest Christ and become more like Him
This space between the end of a season and us discovering what the next one is is often the time the enemy takes to attack us and try to sabotage the fruit of the previous season and plant his own evil seeds to grow in the next one.
The devil will offer us guilt and convince us that God has left us because of something we’ve done or not done or he’ll offer us the opportunity to be offended at God because we did everything right and we deserve His grace (both of which of course are stupid). This can cause us to not believe in the power of the fruit we saw in the previous season and to miss the one we’re coming in to because we don’t trust God to lead us. Seeds of doubt and bitterness can then grow in the soil of our hearts and bear bad fruit in the seasons to come and cause untold damage.
In the wilderness, Jesus was tempted by Satan to question His identity and His relationship with the Father. But the Word says that it was the Holy Spirit who actually led Jesus into and out of the wilderness and I think this is key for us to understand for our own lives. When we feel like the “momentum” has worn off, it can actually be an opportunity for us to worship and praise God for what He’s done! This puts us in the best position to hear what He wants to do next.
“But the Word says that it was the Holy Spirit who actually led Jesus into and out of the wilderness and I think this is key for us to understand for our own lives.”
Sometimes I just decide that I want to focus more on a particular aspect of my relationship with God and I just try really, really hard at something for a while then get confused and disheartened when it doesn’t work out. While I wouldn’t say that’s entirely wrong, I’m starting to be increasingly convinced that being “led” by the Holy Spirit is about more than just knowing who to pray for on the streets. I think that each season we enter (and they do overlap) comes with a new pair of glasses. If we put them on, our focus and perspective changes and enables us to better respond to what He does in our lives. If I understand that God is leading me into a season of humility then I will react differently to situations that arouse my arrogance or knock my ego and I will react differently to people who annoy me, recognising that I have the opportunity to react in pride or in humility. If I understand that God is leading me into a season of developing in the gift of prophecy I will dedicate more of my time to listening to His voice, reading His Word and understanding how He speaks to me and developing in my love for others (1Cor 12, 13+14).
Knowing the seasons we’re in and what the Father is wanting to do in our lives will help us to partner with the Holy Spirit’s plans to make us more like Jesus. We’ll know which books to read, who to spend our time with and how and what to pray for. We’ll be able to let those close to us know what God is doing in us so that they can encourage, challenge and support us in it so we don’t chicken out or get lazy or discouraged. If I know that God has me in a season of developing great vision, I’ll hang out more with my friends who have great vision and read books about people with great vision. This will keep my heart and mind focussed on what God is doing and enable me to be taught by Him.
“Wait Tony are you saying you think that there are times when God is not wanting us to develop in humility?” Haha I probably won’t say that outright but I think at different times He has different focusses and how we respond to these emphases has an affect on our life and transformation. I don’t think it’s entirely dependent on that and there are several other factors but I think that our level of obedience in a season often determines the length of the season. If we just flat out refuse to move forward in what He is leading us into, He may just press the matter for a long time and we’ll feel what some call the pressure of the Potter’s hands. The issue with that is the more we resist Him, often the easier it gets. For example, if He presses us to grow in our purity or integrity by removing dodgey music from our ipod (ouch, see my blog on Irrational Passion or Purity) and we resist, we can eventually become callous and numb to His pressing in that area, losing our malleability and convincing ourselves that He’s actually not that bothered about it or that we’re overreacting which can lead us into further Compromise.
I think that our level of obedience in a season determines the length of the season
I hope you don’t mind me getting a little allegorical for a sec. I believe that the work of the Holy Spirit in us is a lot like the work of a gardener. Original I know (!). We sometimes play the part of the childish helping hands who’ve come to help the gardener during their school holidays. We haven’t spent any time with Him and we don’t know anything about gardening but with hope and excitement in His eyes He welcomes us as He plants seeds of all shapes and sizes and diligently waters them while nothing can be seen on the surface. We get bored of waiting really fast! In our immaturity sometimes we see the first fruit of what has been planted and immediately think that is the be all and end all! We pull it up out of the ground or we pick the tree clean and run around showing it to everyone, maybe we sell it off in pieces or maybe we display it on our wall or maybe we chop it up and throw it into a stew but either way we use it up and its gone and we’re confused.
The next time something blooms we watch the gardener instead. He closely inspects it. Seeing unhealthy portions he prunes it or He gives it more water and allows it to grow more and then leaves it and moves His attention on to something else that is very well developed and bursting with fruit. Removing some of the fruits he makes them into a soup and gives it to people who are sick or hungry then he takes the rest of the fruits and plants them in the ground.
In the garden of our life, God plants seeds of what He wants us to become. Seeds of character, seeds of gifting, seeds of dreams and careers. In our immature and finite thinking we often think that as soon as something small comes of it, it’s time to jump into high gear! Maybe we write a book or we tell people about our great wisdom revelations or spiritual power and authority and we try to make a reputation for ourselves. So often we grab a hold of things in impatience that aren’t fully grown yet (maybe God is working on our patience haha) and we stop nurturing and cultivating with Him and we end up either producing tiny, anaemic, premature fruit and try to make it out to be greater than it is or we stop producing fruit.
The Holy Spirit is VERY clever and if we watch Him and walk with Him instead of running haphazardly around the garden and just picking whatever has bright colours or looks tasty, we will learn a lot. When we stop trying to produce fruit that will impress other people and join Him in producing fruit that will last and display His glory, fruit that will help and heal other people, I think we’re onto something… We learn that anything He grows in us is designed to benefit others not just to make us famous or popular so we take whatever He produces in us and share it with people instead of boasting about it or flaunting it. When compassion is produced we take it to those who need compassion. When faith for physical, mental or emotional healing is produced we take it to those who are hurting.
“When we stop trying to produce fruit that will impress other people and join Him in producing fruit that will last and display His glory, fruit that will help and heal other people, I think we’re onto something…”
However it’s important to remember that there is always more growing to be done! As we join Him in His work in the garden we grow stronger and find that as seasons come and go we are able to carry more of what is produced and accelerate quicker in our personal growth.
Sometimes we stop to celebrate a single tree when God wants to grow orchards!
Of course I totally think we should rejoice at the slightest sense of growth and thank the God of the universe that He is giving time and attention to our tiny hearts but we should always expect that there is more He wants to do in us. Remember: An orchard can continue bearing fruit long after the original apple has gone.
I think it’s important to say also that at the end of any season we don’t go back to square one but obedience means that we will always move forward from one degree of glory to another. In the words of Paul Manwaring, “He gets you ready and He wastes nothing.” Our awareness of how much we’ve grown is often inaccurate and the truth isn’t revealed until later and in the mean time we just have to trust Him, thank Him and follow Him. Seasons often overlap and as we get to know His heart and His mind we can begin to know to a small extent what the next step of the journey will be.
The Bible talks about how the anointing of the Holy Spirit actually teaches us (1John 2:27) so I’d like to suggest that the seasonal movement of our lives can be attributed to the fact that at different times in our lives we’re more anointed in particular things and less so in others as the Holy Spirit draws more attention to one area of our lives than another.
Let’s learn to catch the winds of grace so we can ride on the waves of favour!
- God is far too extravagant for us to always be able to predict what He’s going to do and so we can’t get all formulaic about seasons or we risk restricting the Holy Spirit’s work. He’s like the wind after all!
- Sometimes when you’ve had a tonne of grace in a season, God removes it so that you will seek after Him for the fullness of what you tasted and not simply move on to something else.
- When seasons overlap you can find that you’re harvesting the fruit of one season while nurturing the seeds of the next.
Thanks for reading! Please leave your comments and share this if you found it helpful!