Defining the Seasons: tales of disinformation
(Note from Doug: Before I get started, I wanted to let you know that I will be present on Sunday and ready to give a word the Lord spoke to me in Costa Rica, which I feel is deeply directional and important for our Fusion family at this time. Plus, I will share some of the testimonies of what God did! I really hope to see you all there, it has been too long.)
Daniel 2:21-22 (ESV) He changes times and seasons; He removes kings and sets up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; He reveals deep and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him.
When we come to times personally of grief, disappointment, even silence from God, or nationally of not understanding a drift and direction of a nation, we can enter into times of disorientation. How we maneuver our hearts in those seasons determines both the duration and the dispensation God wants to bestow on us.
Understanding and knowing how to respond, versus how to react is not only a powerful way to live, it is necessary.
Understanding and knowing how to respond, versus how to react is not only a powerful way to live, it is necessary. Like anything, how you frame the season you are in is a great indicator of the gifts you will find in that season and what you will take out of that season when it will inevitably change. Yes, this too will pass.
If you define your season by your problem, you have already lost . To gain what God wants to give in each and every season of life, you must define them by what God is giving and doing in that season. The season is never about the problem, but always about the solutions you are about to discover from God.
But what if God seems silent in a season?
Silence is one of the most difficult things to work through because we are left to our own thoughts. It is the time when we can become disoriented and bitter, if we don't know how to read the landscape we are in. Read, with reflection the words of C.S. Lewis, a lifelong bachelor who had only recently married, upon the death of his wife Joy in his book, "A Grief Observed":
Meanwhile, where is God? This is one of the most disquieting symptoms. When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing Him, so happy that you are tempted to feel His claims upon you as an interruption, if you remember yourself and turn to Him with gratitude and praise, you will be—or so it feels—welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will be come. There are no lights in the windows. It might be an empty house. Was it ever inhabited? It seemed so once. And that seeming was as strong as this. What can this mean? Why is He so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of trouble?
I tried to put some of these thoughts to C. this afternoon. He reminded me that the same thing seems to have happened to Christ: ‘Why hast though forsaken me?’ I know. Does that make it easier to understand?
Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is of coming to believe such dreadful things about Him. The conclusion I dread is not ‘So there’s no God after all,’ but ‘So this is what God’s really like. Deceive yourself no longer.’1
This conclusion is only avoidable if you are guided by a sense of God's person, purpose, and power in the midst of the season. How to do that is simpler than you think.
A season of change
Like many, I did not escape the last three years and its losses. I lost friends, colleagues, my own father, health, relationships, and much more. Those are data points along the way. Simple framed points of data that are there to interpret, either through a perceived absence of God, or through His abiding love and covenant, even when I don't feel it. I could frame this last season as one of loss, of forced change, of defeat, or, I can see it as a profound time of growth, maturity, gains in skill and character, deepening of worship and connection with God, promises fulfilled and the joy (albeit, white knuckled at times), of going through this with God to discover the incredible riches I have in Him.
You see, despite there were facts (data) on one side, they are open for my reframing, my paradigm adjustment and seeing them through the worldview of a much loved son, rather than a struggling orphan. My season was one of transformation, one of growth, one of His care, even though I didn't perceive it. I went through a period of time in this last season where I didn't feel Him and was unaware of Him as I normally am. To say that at first that was disconcerting, would be an understatement. My season of deep change wasn't being undermined by circumstances, but by my need to reorientate my perception of reality to Him.
How to Miss a Mountain
Years ago, I lost a couple of friends who were in a small plane crash into the side of a mountain. A few years later, I lost a mentor who flew his plane into the side of a mountain. In both these cases, the pilots became disoriented by what they saw and didn't trust the gauges to tell the the truth about where they were, how high they were and the immediate danger they were in. The results were tragic.
When you get your license to fly, one of the things you must learn to do, and it is a discipline, is to trust your gauges. Even when your eyes deceive you, the gauges will tell you the truth and they will save your life.
In my walk with Jesus in the various seasons, I have one gauge, Him. When I go through seasons where He seems silent, I draw closer to Him. I worship more, take communion more, I remind myself more of what He has already done and what He has promised and yet to do. I also, do not forsake reading the Bible. It is one of my ways to stay in constant information about Him, despite my circumstances. Reading the Bible will help me in times where I don't have a clear sense of what God is up toi because it reminds me of who I am trusting and His character and faithfulness to me.
When I lean into Him, His faithfulness and character, I avoid slamming into a mountain at terminal velocity. In fact, i come out of a season with great gifts.
Our National Season
I think that the Bible has a word for us in our national season:
Psalms 33:10-11 (NKJV)
The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect.
The counsel of the LORD stands forever,
The plans of His heart to all generations.
There have been many counsels taken up. In fact even today as I write this "kings" are gathered to usher in their plans, but the LORD will bring them to nothing. His counsel will stand forever. So what do I do in this time? Ephesians 6:13 (NKJV): Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. I will stand with His stand!
So, if you are in a time of silence, don't define your season according to it. Draw near to the Lord, linger with Him, refer to the constant of the scripture and let Him and His goodness define your season so that you will gain and grow from it!
Remember, sit in the season, you will not linger there forever. Read again Psalm 84:
Psalms 84 (NKJV)
How lovely is Your tabernacle,
O LORD of hosts!
My soul longs, yes, even faints
For the courts of the LORD;
My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.
Even the sparrow has found a home,
And the swallow a nest for herself,
Where she may lay her young—
Even Your altars, O LORD of hosts,
My King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in Your house;
They will still be praising You.
Blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
Whose heart is set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the Valley of Baca, (the Valley of Weeping)
They make it a spring;
The rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength;
Each one appears before God in Zion.
O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer;
Give ear, O God of Jacob!
O God, behold our shield,
And look upon the face of Your anointed.
For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
Than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
The LORD will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.
O LORD of hosts,
Blessed is the man who trusts in You!
Do not define your season by your problem, but your God!