by Rayola Kelley
The month of March always signifies the coming of spring to most people. For me spring reminds me of the cycles of life. These cycles are constant and are necessary to insure life. Each cycle represents a season.
We all know about the four seasons but how many of us realize they represent the four seasons that Christians encounter throughout their spiritual journey? If you are truly following Jesus you will experience these seasons. Each cycle or season has eternal significance that Christians need to be willing to embrace regardless of how pleasant or unpleasant it may be.
Spring is a significant season for Christians as we prepare for Easter or what I fondly refer to as Resurrection Sunday. I think it is only proper to follow Jesus through the seasons of His life as we look forward to this celebration.
Jesus’ life shows us that all real life is established not in the spring but the winter of our lives. Winter represents obscurity. Although Jesus’ birth was boldly proclaimed and He made a slight entrance on the scene when He was twelve, He was formed in obscurity for thirty years. He spent years as an insignificant carpenter in a town that held no importance in light of Jerusalem.
For many Christians the season of obscurity is unbearable. Such a season is often filled with drudgery, limitations, frustrations, and despair. But it is in this winter season that character is formed and preparation is being made for springtime.
Jesus made His official entrance at the river Jordan, which represented the spring of His life or ministry. This particular spring season quickly gave way to the intense heat of summer as He was led into the wilderness by the Holy Ghost (Luke 4:1).
It was in the summer of His life He was tested. He experienced physical hunger, thirst, and weakness, as He was tempted to give way to Satan. It was in this season that Jesus defined true life and what sustained that life as He withstood each temptation. For example, He showed us that life is not defined by worldly substance but by the Word of God. He showed that proving one’s personal strength does not insure life and that doing so will ultimately put the Giver of life, God, to a foolish test. Even though He had the right as Creator, King of kings, and Lord of lords to lay claim to all earthly kingdoms, they were of no enticement to Him because His kingdom was of an eternal nature. His reaction not only proved His kingdom was not of this world but neither was He.
The springtime for Christians is represented by victories. But these victories are short lived as they lead believers into the wilderness of temptation and testing. Oswald Chambers puts this in perspective when he stated that after the Mount of Transfiguration a person must go down into the demon possessed valleys. This implies that the Christian life is about perspective. There must be both the mountain top experiences and the valleys of humiliation to insure a realistic perspective of life. Each intense experience of summer is to separate believers from that which is fleshly, arrogant, and worldly in nature. Each area is revealed through temptation and discarded in the barren wilderness by the meek and lowly in spirit.
The next season of Christ’s life was the fall or harvest season. After the summer, Jesus began to work in the harvest field of humanity. He planted the seeds of the Gospel, nurtured man’s soul with Living Word, and touched hearts, minds, and bodies to make them whole. He separated the religious ‘tares’ from the struggling ‘wheat’ by exalting those who were humble before Him and abasing those who exalted themselves.
Jesus began to change the terrain of man’s heart as He plowed up the fallow ground and removed the dead religious roots, excavated the rocks of man’s traditions, and broke down the clods of self-exaltation and importance. His purpose for this unwavering work was to free men up to receive the life God had for them.
Christians may talk about the harvest field but how many are willing to work in it? Sadly, working in the harvest is hard work; therefore, Christians avoid the harvest field in both prayer and commitment. There is not much time for personal recognition or glory. It requires you to give everything you have, leaving no room for half-hearted dedication and spiritual slothfulness.
The harvest will ultimately usher one into another winter. For Jesus the harvest led Him to a garden where He was crushed by the sins of man, ushered through the biased justice systems of the religious and political leaders, and up a hill called Calvary. It was on Calvary that He experienced the coldest, darkest, and longest night of winter when He was nailed to a cross to taste death and experience the obscurity of the grave.
The Christian life will always lead every sold-out Christian into this same type of winter season where a crushing will take place, causing them to give way to death and obscurity.
It is in this season that Christians begin to experience the secret of real life. They discover that life cannot be known or obtained outside of death. The darkness of self-denial and death may engulf the Christian as they struggle to see through the despair of it all, but as each believer gives way to the reality of it, he or she will discover great depths in God. As the believer embraces the depth of the darkness, heaven will draw closer and the light, beauty, and glory of Christ will begin to shine through the thick darkness of the grave.
Once the light of Christ begins to shine in the midst of darkness, new life will come forth in power and glory. This new life is called resurrection life. This resurrection life represents the ultimate springtime for every born again believer. The beauty of this particular spring is that it will never end. This spring not only represents a dawning of a new day and a new season but a new life that is eternal in nature. This life manifests the attitude and life of the One that overcame death and mocked the grave as He rose to bring forth this reality in the hearts and souls of men.
What season are you in? Maybe you are in the summer, fall, or winter season of life. You may be experiencing obscurity, intense temptation, or weariness because the harvest is so demanding, or maybe you are in the garden being crushed by the harsh realities of life, experiencing death. I want to encourage you that if you know Jesus Christ there is hope.
It matters little what season you are in for you are promised the ultimate springtime where resurrection life will be made a reality as you personally embrace Jesus Christ. Meanwhile, thank God for the obscurity of winter, rejoice over the temptation of summer, hold tight to the plough of fall, and embrace the cross of winter, knowing that the cycles of life will give way to the ultimate springtime of heaven, that of resurrection life.
My prayer is that Resurrection Sunday will not just be a concept or belief, but a joyous reality of the Living Christ in you.