“Winter preserves and strengthens a tree. Rather than expending its strength on the exterior surface, its sap is forced deeper and deeper into its interior depth. In winter a tougher, more resilient life is firmly established. Winter is necessary for the tree to survive and flourish.” (Richard Foster, Prayer, p 66)
Can you relate? Maybe this is true for you at work or in a relationship. Either way, its core is the picture of our soul. When the beauty of a good relationship at work, home, or with God is pealed away, who I really am is revealed.
Last night I was working late on an article for a Christian writing course – and hopefully a Christian magazine. I’ve struggled all week with this article. Finally, it was flowing. Then an interruption comes from little feet. It was a wintry scene. Cold and bare. Howling wind from me, precipitation from the eyes of the little one.
In the past, I would have felt like a total hypocrite from the experience. Somewhat like the speaker at a writer’s conference who confessed he wrote an article for a men’s health magazine from a donut shop. But I’m learning something from this winter freeze I’m having in my soul these days.
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
In the past when I’ve prayed “God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven”, I think that part of eternity in my heart thought that if everything wasn’t just right then God’s will wasn’t happening on earth as it does in heaven. I don’t think I really believed that prayer was possible in this world as it is. I thought I was praying for a future event.
Not so! Psalm 24 says the earth and everything in it belongs to God. We already have a little of heaven on earth. As Steve Robbins spoke at Vineyard some time ago, each time we pray for healing or for anything in God’s will, we are praying for a little more of heaven to be experienced on earth right now.
My quiet times have become more important to me in this frozen time. I’m realizing that in those moments I can have a peace that my heart longs to experience for eternity. And for just that little bit of time – whether it is 15 minutes or 2 hours – I am experiencing heaven on earth.
I encounter a bit of hell through the rest of the day. But I am reminded that the earth is the Lord’s. Because of my short periods of heaven on earth, I’m confident that He will restore all creation completely one day.
I’m not a hypocrite. My green leaves get blown off once in a while and the truth of my imperfection is revealed. But it is in that nakedness that I learn to rely on my source of strength. Without those naked moments, I would never have the beauty of the emerald covering.
“Dear Lord Jesus, in my better moments I want nothing more than to be like you. But there are other moments…Help me to see how good conformity to your way really is. In my seeking for you may I be found by you. I love you, Lord. Amen.” (Foster, p66)