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New Seasons

New Seasons

by Sheila Jacobs

New Seasons – At the start of every year, I lay the following twelve months out before Jesus, like a map, or like a blank piece of paper. I don’t know where this year will take me, the route I am meant to follow, or what the outcome will be. I trust God for signposts. Perhaps this year will be one of great possibilities and big choices. It could be that there will be smaller events and that the path I’m walking now will see very little change. If that’s the case, I’ll just keep walking.

I like walking. I often meet with God when I’m outside, away from my desk. When I’m wandering about in the countryside, noticing the changing seasons, God speaks to me. Changing seasons reflect life.

I am in the autumn of my life; some of my leaves are a bit shrivelled (!) but of course, autumn is the time of great fruitfulness. As I walk, God speaks to me about ‘low-hanging fruit’, the people who are close to the kingdom, who are aching to hear about a Saviour who loves them. I need to listen to God and discern when and where to speak, and to whom. God knows what they need, I do not; he understands their hearts. And he understands mine too.

Feeling dry

Last year, I felt as dry as the stubble fields. But stubble fields don’t remain as stubble, do they? They’re ploughed up. The hard ground is tilled, ready for a new crop. One day in the autumn I realised I was ‘hard’ and needed my ‘ground’ to be softened. It had been a tough year, and the hardness was probably an emotional shield; my mum had died after a long illness in October 2021. It was as if a difficult chapter had ended, and the page had not yet been turned. I was emotionally exhausted. God had made me many promises and had been faithful. But what next, Lord? I knew I needed to ‘wait’. In truth, I didn’t have the energy for anything else. And that waiting, a time of rest and recuperation, was vital for me.

Moving on during a season of grief can be very hard – whether it is due to the loss of a person, or a relationship. Last new year, when I spent my quiet time with the Lord, I knew he was telling me to wait twelve months before I made any great decisions. That was a year of grace; a downtime, a time of not pushing forward, not making any huge changes. Just treading water. Getting involved in some street evangelism, meeting people for coffee; being easy on myself and with others but doing little else apart from work. Sometimes we need that ‘time out’, especially when we’ve taken a bit of an emotional hammering. God knows when we need to ‘get some rest’ (Mark 6:31), in a quiet place with him, before we are feeling refreshed and restored, ready to walk out into whatever he has planned for us next. We don’t need to rush. Rushing rarely results in anything good. I knew I needed to take my time to heal.

Conclusion

At the top of the year, things begin to change, slowly, slowly. The frost breaks up the hard ground. The hard ground yields and produces the first snowdrop. Hope begins again.

Maybe you have felt dry, cold, switched off, due to grief, sadness, or disappointment. Disappointment can come in many shapes and sizes: a relationship that didn’t work out; a promise that wasn’t kept; getting older and realising that there have been hopes that didn’t materialise. But if you know Jesus, don’t despair. God is a God of new seasons and new beginnings.

The new year, with new possibilities, is a special time. Old festivities are over, and nothing can bring the past back. Spring is on its way, and this year will be different to the last. Laying it all out before God, inviting him to reveal the next chapter in his own time is far better than scribbling some ideas on a page and hoping our dreams will come true if God rubberstamps them. If God promises something, he will not let us down. And we don’t have to force his hand, jumping into something new that might not be right, before we are ready. That way we damage ourselves – and may damage others too.

As we wait on him, we will grow ever closer to the One who knows our future as well as our past. He has good plans for us, but he asks us to seek him first – to make knowing him our ultimate goal (Jeremiah 29:11-12). If we make Jesus our priority, then we might be surprised what he will bring, as we walk along the path of the new year.

Perhaps, if you can, go for a walk. Look at the bleakness of the trees in a field or park or garden, which look dead but aren’t. New life is there, hidden, just waiting to burst out in the coming months. Who knows what life will burst out in ourselves, as we yield everything to Jesus? He himself is life (John 14:6) and if you know him, that life lives in you!

All scriptures NIV 2011 (UK)

Sheila Jacobs is a writer, editor, and an award-winning author of 19 books, including Watchers. Her latest title is A Little Book of Rest: Walking Out of Anxiety and Fear (Malcolm Down).