"Fruit has everything to do with seasons and you have to endure the season for fruit to come out." Darin Hufford
When I heard those words, I immediately started thinking about the four different seasons of the year - summer, fall, winter and spring. Right now, in South Carolina, we're experiencing summer. Summer in the Southeast means HOT with thunderstorms and possible hurricanes and tornadoes. Droughts are a part of this season and insects are everywhere.
Next, comes fall. Fall in the Southeast is a wonderful time of year as the days get cooler. The leaves start to change color, die and fall off the trees. I love the sound of the leaves crunching under my feet as I walk in my yard. How beautiful the yard looks covered by a blanket of different colored leaves.
Next, comes winter. Winter is a time of cold temperatures. Even though we don't normally have snow in the Southeast, we tend to stay indoors rather than face the cold. Trees look barren and all we see are naked branches that have been stripped of their leaves. It's a quiet time as most backyard birds and animals stay hidden seeking warmth and only come out occasionally in order to eat.
Spring is a busy time as everything seems to wake up. Trees take on a new beauty as leaves begin to sprout on what was once naked branches. Color is everywhere as flowers start to bloom and grow. Animals that were hidden during winter now are everywhere moving about. The song of birds can be heard throughout the day.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 says " To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven." The seasons are necessary. The barrenness of winter is necessary to prepare the earth for the activity of spring. The harshness of summer is needed in order to produce fruit. Fall is really a transition time that moves us gently from the harshness of summer to the rest of winter.
As each season is necessary for life to flourish so it is in our lives as believers. We love the spring in our lives when it seems like Father is doing great things and we're actively involved in ministry. However, we despise the winters of rest when it seems like nothing is happening and we're plagued with feelings of loneliness and wondering if God has forgotten us or, worse still, if we've offended him in some way and he's turned his back on us in anger.
As believers, we'll go through a varying cycle of seasons. Some pleasant and exciting and others very painful. For the most part, however, we have no control over what season we're in. We can't change the season. All we can do is stay on the path until the season is over.
We have a tendency, however, to try to run from the season when it gets hard. When feelings of loneliness overwhelm us, we call everyone we know and try to find ways to keep busy rather than face the loneliness. The reality is that when we run from the season, we don't really stop it. We may cover up the emotions but somewhere down the road, we'll go through that season again. When we refuse to allow Jesus to lead us through the season, we never learn the lessons from that season.
However, when we've endured the season and it's finished, we need to take the lessons from that season into the next season. For example, as I've shared before, I spent three and a half years in an abusive church. It was a very painful time in my life and, even after I left, the pain remained for some time. I believe one of the keys to my healing was the fact that I accepted that season in my life with all of its pain. It was not something I consciously set out to do but, as I followed Jesus, he led me on a path through the pain and I took the lessons learned during that season into the next season.
We all want to see godly fruit produced in our lives yet, in order to produce the type of fruit that is eternal, we have to endure the season. Seasons of loneliness and lack will come to prepare us for the exciting seasons of much fruit and activity. Jesus described these seasons of fruitfulness in John 15:4-5 when he said, "Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."