If I asked you which season you are in right now, no doubt you would answer me with “Spring” or “Autumn”, depending on which hemisphere you currently live in. You could point to physical and climatic signs to back up your answer. Here in Australia leaves have turned red and golden, there is a gentle warmth to the days, but the mornings and nights are increasingly colder, indicating autumn is here but winter is close on its heels.
If you are in Spring you could show me evidence such as buds and bulbs emerging from their sleepy beds beneath the earth to welcome the returning sunshine. Daylight hours are getting longer. Soon the delightful floral colours and fragrances of summer will be in full display, and coats and scarves will be discarded for lighter clothes and swimsuits.
But If I asked you to tell me about the spiritual season we currently find ourselves in as Christ followers, would you be surprised, and would the answer come so easily?
Over the last few months I have become increasingly aware of a change of seasons both in my own life and more importantly in the Spirit. It has been a season of transition, requiring stillness, surrendering of things long held, and quiet watchfulness. Such seasons in our lives are not traversed easily or without pain. But it has also been a time of deepening dependence on God and of learning to lean on the Beloved more completely than ever, letting go of what has gone before (sometimes wrenchingly) and embracing new and unfamiliar pathways whose destinations are yet to be made clear.
I guess some of Jesus’ closest disciples faced a similar scenario out on the Sea of Galilee when a sudden, ferocious storm threatened to overpower their fishing boat while a dark, angry sea eagerly waited to swallow up every one of them. While they battled the elements, Jesus, their esteemed passenger, slept on. “But wait, WE are the seafarers, WE are the ones who have been sailing these waters since childhood, WE have battled storms and giant waves many times before. WE should be the ones conveying Him to safe water. This is who we are and have always been!” But then, as the storm grew fiercer and the waves grew taller “Jesus, save us!!” (Luke 8:22-24)
The season was changing, rapidly and even violently, for those disciples. The very things that had previously defined them, from which they drew their identities, wouldn’t cut it any more. Something new and unfamiliar had overtaken them and over the coming days each of them would face monumental choices, choices that involved cutting loose from all they had ever thought, assumed or been told about themselves to entirely embrace this man, Jesus Christ.
They had entered a new season. In this new season all they had been would need to become entirely immersed in Who He is, even to the smallest detail. They were experienced, highly skilful sailors and fishermen, more at home in a rugged Galilean fishing vessel than anywhere else on earth, but He would completely undo them and transform them into fishers of men, sending them far and wide among the great ocean of waiting humanity.
Now that’s change.
Right now, as Christ-followers, we have some pretty big waves labelled ‘’change’ looming over us. Maybe you’ve noticed? Or maybe you’re asleep, comfortably cruising along with Jesus in the back of the boat oblivious to the scenario unfolding around you? Either way, the Spirit is trumpeting that a new spiritual season is upon us, and it won’t be held back.
For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grapes give a good smell. Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away! (Song 2:11-13)
We needn’t be concerned about whether it is autumn, spring, summer or winter as we consider this passage. It’s not about the weather. Its purpose is to awaken us to the change of seasons in the Spirit. It speaks to us of signs upon the earth that herald a new season. It challenges us to discern those signs, rise up from whatever we’ve been occupied with, and come away to the Beloved even more wholeheartedly. It demands we abandon all that the previous seasons have encumbered us with and run with Him like barefooted children through newly discovered fields that stretch far beyond our familiar horizons.
It is in our land, not the land of others, that the Voice of the Turtledove is sounding. And He speaks of a long-awaited new season, a season of the coming of the Kingdom upon the earth. It is to the Bride of Christ only that the turtledove calls and beckons. He sings to us of coming away like never before to our Beloved, who longs to unfold this new season of His Kingdom to us and reveal it within us.
To Jesus, the flowers are the called, chosen and faithful company who are His Bride. It is time for those flowers to appear on the earth in abundance and be made manifest to the world, the principalities and the powers, as His faithful and eternal bridal company.
In coming posts, as the Spirit leads, I hope to share more about this unshakeable Kingdom of God whose season is now upon us. May we all be increasingly aware of the Voice of the Turtledove in our land, and increasingly unmoved by the noisy demands of this world in which we are strangers and outcasts (1 Peter 2:11).
© Cheryl McGrath, Bread for the Bride, 2018. Copyright Notice: Permission is granted to freely reproduce any Bread for the Bride articles in emails or internet blogs, unaltered, and providing this copyright notice is included. To permanently display an article on any static website please contact me for permission.