Understanding The Season & How To Respond

Simon LawtonInspiration, Leadership, UncategorizedLeave a Comment

Have you ever asked yourself ‘What is going on?’ or ‘Why is this happening to me now?’ I’m a great believer that just as there are seasons in nature we also experience different seasons in our own individual lives. This article will, I hope, help you to understand the season you are going through and possibly how to respond.

Our surroundings are changing. It’s Autumn and the leaves are turning, nights are drawing in and colder weather, fog, frost and perhaps snow lie ahead….and it will soon be Christmas! It’s a new season – for football, rugby, school, TV, university, college, careers and at the same time we are all spiritually, emotionally, and physically going through different seasons in our lives….

I wonder what season you are in?

Julia and I celebrated our 27th Wedding Anniversary on Friday and I came across this yesterday….

“I think men who have a pierced ear are better prepared for marriage.  They’ve experienced pain and have bought jewellery!”

At our wedding, our Pastor read these words from Hosea;

“I said, ‘Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plough up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the LORD, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.”  (Hosea 10:12-13 NLT)

There are clearly different seasons:

  • Spring: for planting and cultivating
  • Summer: for watering and feeding
  • Autumn: for harvest and reaping & then ploughing
  • Winter: ground is left fallow and nothing appears to be happening

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

I’ve identified some of the seasons we experience during our lives;

Seasons of joy and seasons of loss and great sorrow

The joyful times are just great….as I look back on this year….it’s been a great year…..moments of great joy when our grandson was born. Other highlights including visiting LA and spending a wonderful weekend in beautiful Sussex and a beautiful day at Lake Windermere with our kids/grand kids. However during the same year, as a church family, we lost Sarah Crooks suddenly. I will never forget receiving the phone call. The sorrowful times are just horrible. Some of you will have lost loved ones too. Bereavement is the worst kind of loss but also relationships end, businesses fail, much loved careers change bringing loss and sorrow.

Seasons of testing & trial & challenge 

Sometimes it seems like everything has been shaking,

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32)

The Lord allows those seasons….there are many examples in the Bible. He allows them….to test us and see what we’re made of (can he trust us?) He may have a particular plan for us and will want to know we won’t give up at the first hurdle! During those seasons he will grow us, mature us and build us up in our faith.  Those seasons are never pleasant experiences at all but often necessary ones, if we are to do great exploits for our God!!

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4)

Even when we go through the toughest season we should be aware that God has NOT forgotten us,  He is with us and He is allowing our faith to be built up, strengthened and established.  He is building FAITH & CHARACTER and a deep deep trust in Him during those times. Trust me – He is willing you on right now!

Seasons of battles and seasons of peace

Sadly I’ve fought many over the years and sometimes on many different fronts and it can become wearying….some of you are there right now. It just seems like everything and everyone is contending against you.  Stay close to God, seek Him, ask Him to give you peace on every side…

“The LORD gave them peace and rest on every side. That’s what he had promised their fathers he would do. Not one of their enemies was able to fight against Israel and win. The LORD handed all of their enemies over to them.” (Joshua 21:44)

“But now the LORD my God has given me peace on every side, and there is no adversary or disaster.” (1 Kings 5:4)

Seasons of preparation, planning, learning

In Crewe I realised that the reason the church wasn’t growing was me! I was the bottleneck….and so I spent two years learning how to structure the church, to empower people, trust people to lead etc and just as I’d learned all I could at the time and finished the restructure, I was called to pastor the church in Newcastle! I discovered at the interview that their first priority was to restructure the church.

But we also had some difficult, challenging times in Crewe. I absolutely believe that God uses all those situations and experiences we go through (good & bad) to prepare us for what lies ahead (He knows) BUT also we need to be alert and willing to prepare. Seasons of preparation are so important! Billy Graham was once asked if he had any regrets….his main one was ‘spending less time preparing for ministry.’ Preparation time is important and never wasted!

Seasons of pruning 

Pruning always follows on from being fruitful. The fact is – you can’t prune something that isn’t already growing and fruitful. The purpose is always that greater growth & fruit will come forth. Is God pruning you? Has he allowed something to die in your life? Have you had to step down from or give up an activity you love in order that your life can be more fruitful….it may seem strange or even painful.  Trust God! He knows what He is doing!

Seasons of change and transition

We all face them and even churches have seasons: growth, plateau, expansion….change & transition… Right now I believe we are in a season of great transition, change and shaking (things will never be quite the same). It’s uncomfortable, strange and stressful….but we must keep eyes focused on the goal….it will be worth it!

The children of Israel….had to escape Pharaoh, wander the desert, cross rivers and then conquer some kingdoms BEFORE they received what was promised! It was a season of change and transition.

Seasons of waiting

This is always a tough season however God’s timing is perfect. My call to ministry demonstrates this:

  • I preached my first sermon after being called to ministry in Dec 1985
  • I went to Bible College in Sept 1992
  • I became a pastor in Jan 1995 (planted a church)
  • Gods call became a reality 10 years later.
  • God called me to create a Dream Centre over 15 years ago.

You may be waiting for your dream to become a reality, your breakthrough, your answer, that prophetic word to come to pass….

“Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.” (James 5:7-8)

Seasons of reaping, success, prosperity 

“Let us not become weary in doing good. For at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)

This is probably my favourite season! When it seems like almost everything we touch turns to gold!  (incidentally if you’re going through one of those…..share the blessing with others…..encourage one another)

Remember, whatever season you find yourself in….

“But I trust in you, Lord; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hands.” (Psalm 31:14-15)

God knows, understands and is not surprised by what is taking place either in our lives or the world.

HOW SHOULD WE LIVE DURING THE SEASON WE ARE IN?

God gave Joshua some great advice as he entered a very challenging new season.

“After the death of Moses the servant of GOD, GOD spoke to Joshua, Moses’ assistant: “Moses my servant is dead. Get going. Cross this Jordan River, you and all the people. Cross to the country I’m giving to the People of Israel. I’m giving you every square inch of the land you set your foot on—just as I promised Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon east to the Great River, the Euphrates River—all the Hittite country—and then west to the Great Sea. It’s all yours. All your life, no one will be able to hold out against you. In the same way I was with Moses, I’ll be with you. I won’t give up on you; I won’t leave you. Strength! Courage!

You are going to lead this people to inherit the land that I promised to give their ancestors. Give it everything you have, heart and soul. Make sure you carry out The Revelation that Moses commanded you, every bit of it. Don’t get off track, either left or right, so as to make sure you get to where you’re going. And don’t for a minute let this Book of The Revelation be out of mind. Ponder and meditate on it day and night, making sure you practice everything written in it. Then you’ll get where you’re going; then you’ll succeed. Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. GOD, your God, is with you every step you take.” (Joshua 1:1-9 MSG)

TEN TIPS TO HELP YOU NAVIGATE THE SEASON YOU’RE IN RIGHT NOW

1. Identify the season you are in (ask God if you are not sure)

“Men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do.” (1 Chronicles 12:32)

For Joshua it had been a season of grieving and sorrow and he was also perhaps feeling a bit lost. Moses was dead. Israel had lost its spiritual giant….the prophet, leader, strategist and there was suddenly a massive void…that Joshua was supposed to step into. My guess is he was in no rush! It’s no fun following a great & popular leader…ask any politician!

2. Get going!

God had to say to Joshua. Moses is dead! You’ve been grieving….but it’s time to get going again! The vision of a land flowing with milk and honey still stands. It’s conquest time! Get up, dust yourself down. Get this people ready for war!

Sometimes, you know, the season we’re in can cause us to lose our way and perhaps lose sight of our vision and plans and even lose our way. God would say to some of us…. ‘GET GOING!!’

3. Embrace change (change is here to stay)

The only thing that is constant is change… Israel were happy nomads! It’s easy sometimes to get comfortable even in a desert! I’m sure there were some in Israel who quite enjoyed being nomads, wandering from place to place. They never had to put their roots down and fight a battle for God and suddenly they were having to enrol for the army and conquer Canaan.

Some Christians can be like that…..they’re quite happy to settle for less than God has intended for them. They enjoy being comfortable with what they have. Can I encourage you to embrace change! I’ve written a post on embracing change – you can read it here

God brings change. He authors it. He knows best. He has a better way. We must learn to embrace it.

Is it possible to get yourself out of a season?!

I think it is….in some seasons. Joshua’s season (I’m speculating!) of grief, disappointment, comfort, rest, loss of vision ended when…..HE WAS OBEDIENT to what God had called him to do. Sometimes our disobedience keeps us where we are.

I can remember my pastor saying….God won’t take you any further UNTIL you’ve done what He’s asked you to do….or sometimes it’s ‘stopping doing what he’s told you not to do!’

4. Trust God deeply

Joshua had to learn to really trust God deeply.

“In the same way I was with Moses, I’ll be with you. I won’t give up on you; I won’t leave you. Strength! Courage! Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. GOD, your God, is with you every step you take.” (Joshua 1:5-6 TM)

Remember seasons change but GOD NEVER CHANGES! He is faithful throughout all the seasons. So learn to trust Him and to depend on Him totally.

5. Stay close to Him in EVERY season

We do have a tendency to desert Him at harvest time when everything is going well. The Israelites forgot God once they were settled in Canaan and began to follow after other Gods. It’s a mistake so many Christians make and one I often did in my younger days! 

One of the ways Joshua would stay close to God was by putting time aside to read and meditate on God’s Word (and he wasn’t blessed with the full scriptures that we enjoy today). Can I encourage you, whatever season you find yourself in, to meditate on God’s Word and let it be your foundation, influence, inspiration and life manual.

6. Know yourself and learn to recognise the signs that you are slipping into areas that you shouldn’t: 

“Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. GOD, your God, is with you every step you take.” Don’t get off track, either left or right, so as to make sure you get to where you’re going.” (Joshua 1:6)

Twice God says this. Could it be perhaps that Joshua had the type of character that could easily slip into fear, timidity, doubt and discouragement. In the season that you’re going through be alert and aware of the signs that you’re slipping into areas that you shouldn’t be….it could be sin, despondency, despair, fear or anxiety. So recognise what’s happening, resist the devil and he will flee from you.  Don’t be unaware of his devices!

7. Enjoy the journey, make every day count!

There is so much joy & fulfilment to be experienced on the journey! We can be a nation of whingers and therefore we miss out at times. If you’re going through a difficult season then can I encourage you to find something everyday to make you smile, celebrate or thank God for.  Praise and worship will carry you through the difficult and testing season!

Would you like to discover how to be thankful during the challenging season – check out my post here

 

8. Persevere! Never give up!

“You are going to lead this people to inherit the land that I promised to give their ancestors. Give it everything you have, heart and soul. Make sure you carry out The Revelation that Moses commanded you, every bit of it.” (Joshua 1:6)

There would be seasons, I’m sure, when Joshua would be tempted to give up. Achan’s sin for one. God re-assures him in advance – “You are going to lead this people….it’s going to happen!” So please persevere through the season…never ever ever give up! A season change is just around the corner….summers coming, harvest…

‘Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who live him.’ (James 1:12)

9. Prepare for the next season 

“Then Joshua gave orders to the people’s leaders: “Go through the camp and give this order to the people: ‘Pack your bags. In three days you will cross this Jordan River to enter and take the land GOD, your God, is giving you to possess.’” (Joshua 1:10-11 MSG)

Get ready! Get prepared! (NIV) My children are now having children of their own and so they get themselves ready for the arrival of the new baby. They will perhaps buy a book/mag, go to pre-natal classes, buy all the gear…sterilisers, nappies, protective gloves and also prepare the babies bedroom.

In the same way a farmer will purchase seeds, cultivate the ground, sharpen & service his equipment….

In the same way a footballer attends pre-season training to make sure he is fit, healthy and prepared for the long season ahead….

What should you be doing in this…..your ‘pre-season?’

If you were asked to accept a promotion at work tomorrow would you be ready?

If you were told you were going to be a dad tomorrow would you be ready?

If you were asked to lead a small group or ministry would you be ready?

10. Remember: seasons change

It often seems like Winter is going to last forever and then all of a sudden the sun comes out and spring has arrived. No matter what season you are in….this is Gods word to you today!!

“Moses my servant is dead. Get going. Cross this Jordan River, you and all the people. Cross to the country I’m giving to the People of Israel. I’m giving you every square inch of the land you set your foot on—just as I promised Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon east to the Great River, the Euphrates River—all the Hittite country—and then west to the Great Sea. It’s all yours. All your life, no one will be able to hold out against you. In the same way I was with Moses, I’ll be with you. I won’t give up on you; I won’t leave you. Strength! Courage!

You are going to lead this people to inherit the land that I promised to give their ancestors. Give it everything you have, heart and soul. Make sure you carry out The Revelation that Moses commanded you, every bit of it. Don’t get off track, either left or right, so as to make sure you get to where you’re going. And don’t for a minute let this Book of The Revelation be out of mind. Ponder and meditate on it day and night, making sure you practice everything written in it. Then you’ll get where you’re going; then you’ll succeed. Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. GOD, your God, is with you every step you take.” (Joshua 1:1-9 MSG)

I’m praying for you whatever season you’re going through right now. Stay close to God, depend on Him…look to Him for everything you need during this present season and don’t forget to encourage those around you on the journey!

IMAGINE

If you’ve enjoyed this post you might like to check out my book entitled ‘Imagine.’ It is all about trusting God based on the amazing promise in Proverbs 3:5-6. I’ve shared from my own experiences and personal journey the lessons that I’ve learned about trusting God. It has truly been an amazing journey of discovery of trusting God like never before and living like never before!

Imagine is available here

Recent Amazon reviewers said,

“This is an incredibly powerful book written as if the author is chatting to you about his own life, struggles and experiences during his ongoing walk with God. It is a very real and honest book with bible verses to back up what the author is sharing about. Personally this book is having a big impact on me and my faith in God. I would recommend to anyone to buy this book if you want to deepen your relationship with God at whatever stage you are in your walk. Imagine the impact this book could have on your life….”

“Imagine is a brilliant read and it is challenging too. Using Proverbs 3:5-6 as the central scripture and Simon Lawton’s personal journey, the important issues of trust and faith are discussed in depth. It’s easy to read, enjoyable and has really helped me think long and hard about God’s calling for my life and how I can trust Him with so much more. Well worth reading, whether you are exploring or are new to the Christian faith, or if you have been a Christian for years – there’s something in this book for everyone. Highly recommended.”

“I have bought this book both on kindle and paperback. It is definitely worth owning one. Apart from my bible, it’s my most read and re read book which is underpinned with the word of God. The authors shares personal experiences, which backs up what’s been said. It’s true to life, and is very simple to read but extremely powerful. It’s a reminder of God’s love for us, and His Fatherly promise to be with us through the storms of life.. we only need to trust in God no matter what life throws at us.. I highly recommend this book and the bible study which is in within the contents of the book. It’s going to be my home groups next study.. A word in season.”

Why not grab a copy now! Imagine is available here  

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.