Life is a period of time in which we pass through many different spiritual seasons. Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.” Various authors have written about the seasons, giving them a variety of titles. Throughout my life, I have experienced seasons which I have named roses, thorns, tumbleweeds, and desert. During some seasons I enjoy life more than I do in other seasons. Today I will share my insight with you, praying that you will receive some awareness into how you can move through your seasons of spiritual life. As you read this article, keep in mind that each of us will react differently to the same circumstance. I will provide some differences within the paragraph of each specific season; however, there may be other reactions which are not included.
Season of Roses
When we are in a season of roses, it is extremely easy to trust in God. Why name it roses? Several studies have been done on how flowers affect us. The results of one such study suggested “that those who enjoy the great outdoors and the presence of flowers on a regular basis boast increased feelings of happiness and a greater life satisfaction.” Roses are also used as symbols of God’s hand in our life. Whitney Hopler reminds us that “it’s not surprising that many miracles and encounters with angels…have involved roses.” This most welcomed and beautiful season includes experiences of success, joy, births, laughter, positivity, good health, etc. During this season, we can tend to take things for granted. We may tend to not worry about the future. Many of us find that it is easier to maintain a good prayer life; while others of us find that we tend to ignore a prayer time. In this season, we find more positive things to share with others; and we tend to have a positive outlook on life. In the season of roses, we generally take good care of ourselves (eating healthy, obtaining the proper hours of sleep, getting regular exercise, etc.). We enjoy the season of roses, and most of us welcome it.
Season of Thorns
When we are in a season of thorns, it is easy to question God; and we can be uneasy in trusting God. Why name it thorns? As we know, most rose varieties have thorns on their stems. Although the purpose of these thorns is to protect the plant from being destroyed, we focus on how it harms us. When we are pricked by a thorn, it hurts! Along with the pain, we can experience infection caused by a fungus found on the plant; which can lead to serious health issues. Therefore, thorns represent all of the negativity in our life. As we walk through life, ‘thorns’ poke at us. They include such things as a fight with a loved one, a health crisis, loss of employment, divorce, mental illness, addictions, etc. Some of us will stop praying, while others of us will turn to prayer. When there is no resolve to our negative experience, we begin to wonder why God isn’t answering our prayers. We ask God why he isn’t present to us; while at the same time, we may have ceased devout prayer time. Because the pain of the thorns is unpleasant and unwanted, we may withdraw from our circles. We may find that we experience depression, miss work, deny ourselves positive self-care, withdraw from our usual routine, miss church, etc. We may find that our spiritual life is drying up.
Season of Tumbleweeds
When we are in a season of tumbleweeds, it is difficult to trust in God. Why name it tumbleweeds? Tumbleweeds begin as a plant, growing in dry lands. At some point within their lifecycle, the plant separates from its root. This is when the tumbleweed tumbles aimlessly around. Although we generally believe there is no good purpose for the tumbleweed, the Geological Society of America reports that tumbleweeds are planted in contaminated areas to remove uranium. Therefore, during this season, we have separated ourselves from God (our ‘root’). Trusting in God has become relatively difficult, as we tend to hold unto the negative ‘stuff’, allowing it to ‘contaminate’ our spirit. We ‘tumble’ around in an attempt to maintain the positive. Yet, we discover that there are moments, or even days, when we skip some of our positive self-care, prayer time, etc. Some of us may not even realize that we have allowed the tumbleweeds to obscure our positive outlook. We may find that we are walking deeper and deeper into the dry land.
Season of Desert
When we are in a season of desert, it is extremely difficult to trust in God. Why name it the desert? Britannica provides a long definition of the word ‘desert’. In brief, it is an area of dry land which experiences extreme heat, and has very little vegetation. The desert is generally a place of desolation. In Matthew 4, we learn that Jesus was led into the desert by the Spirit in order to be tempted by the devil. The desert is mentioned in several scripture passages, seemingly as a source of isolation and destitution. Therefore, the ‘desert’ is potentially our experience of despair, loneliness, self-loathing, depression, and darkness. We find it extremely hard to find any ‘roses’. In fact, there are many days in which we can find no ‘roses’. We may cry out to God, “why have you abandoned me?”. Our mental and emotional pain can become unbearable. In the desert we feel alone, afraid, let down, lost, disoriented, hungry for the truth given to us through the bread of life, and thirsty to receive the living water.
Lessons to be learned
As we move through each season of spiritual life, there is a lesson to be learned:
- In the season of roses, we learn about the beauty of life. We experience unconditional love, we taste the sweetness of the Holy Trinity, and we grow in self-acceptance. It is in this season that we are able to give of ourselves more easily. It is also a time when we tend to take the best care of our personal needs.
- In the season of thorns, we learn of free will. Each person we encounter within our lifetime has free will, including ourselves. What others do with their free will always has an effect on us, one way or another. Their free will brings joy, frustration, laughter, or pain into our lives. What we each do with our own free will also affects us, and has the potential of affecting others; again causing positive or negative reactions.
- In the season of tumbleweeds, we learn that we are indifferent. We tend to tumble around, lost within ourselves. Some of us will haphazardly pray. Some of us will clam up and resist any Spirit of God to touch us. We have taken in so much of the negative of life, that we tend to hold onto it, just as a tumbleweed holds onto contamination. There may be some of us who cry out to God in prayer, yet we are so busy tumbling around in the dry land, that we do not remain still/quiet in order to hear from him.
- In the season of desert, we learn that there is nothing else we can do, but to truly rely on God. As we read in several scripture passages, the desert is the place where God’s people found answers, peace, strength, guidance, etc. We realize that the path we took to reach the desert was pride, sinfulness, hatred, unforgiveness, illness, lust, apathy, etc. We soon learn that being in the desert isn’t necessarily a negative or wasted time. Once we realize that we are in the desert, and then acknowledge the fact, we are able to begin healing. Once we are healed from what brought us into the desert, we discover that we are once again in the season of roses.
Be sure to return next week to learn about how being in the desert is truly a time of spiritual growth, as well as renewal.
May God shine His light, love, mercy, grace, and peace upon you!