Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Winter (11/14/05)
TITLE: Jodi’s Winter Solace
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Jodi was dumfounded. Has God been with me after all? she mused as she clicked the phone back into the receiver.
Sluggish thoughts, sluggish actions, overwhelming fears, uncertain future - Jodi’s depression seemed to be an impenetrable fortress. Isolated in her own private hell, Jodi had been shaken from her foreboding by Anna’s unexpected phone call.
Anna’s intriguing words goaded her to discard her comfy pyjamas and dress to meet her friend at the café as arranged. She has been praying for me and has something to tell me from God? Jodi’s curiosity was aroused, as were her anxieties. It had been many days since she had ventured out the front door.
Gloria Jeans: 10:53am.
Punctual as always, Anna waited patiently for Jodi.
Rising from the table she greeted Jodi with a kiss and hug. She looks immaculate as ever, Jodi thought studying Anna’s face and clothing
Hair out of place, no make-up, donned in a drab, loose-fitting T-shirt, with mournful eyes and late, Jodi sat opposite her friend and offered a weak smile. Anna is always so bright and cheery. How can I tell her...how dead I feel, useless, lost...
The waitress emptied her tray of delectable sweet goodies with speed and flair. Anna said thank you with her radiant smile but Jodi hadn’t noticed that her crepe and coffee had arrived.
“Jodi,” Anna started, “I want to tell you a story!”
“Sure.” Jodi said without really meaning it. With my aching heart, a ‘story’ is the LAST thing I need right now, she thought with a pang of sadness.
Pointing out through the cafe’s glass window Anna asked Jodi, “What season is it right now?”
“Spring.” Jodi replied lamely.
“Does Spring ever come without experiencing Winter first?” Anna continued.
Somehow that statement arrested Jodi’s attention.
“The new leaves have recently unfolded, and soon flowers will also appear. But, do you remember what these trees looked like a few weeks ago?
“Well, in the same way we go through ‘seasons’ in our lives and in our walk with God. Winter is the most difficult of all seasons for us to pass through. Judging by outward appearances, the tree looks dead - it seems impossible that it will ever live again. But despite its bleak appearance, something incredible is going on inside the tree during the death of winter. It’s a hidden thing, but essential preparations are taking place within the tree during the winter.”
Jodi stared in astonishment - the words were like burning arrows from God to her heart.
“There’s a natural time-lock set in motion by the Creator. At the right time the tree emerges from its winter hibernation and springs into sudden action. Leaves appear, buds emerge, fruit is produced. The new growth is rapid and visible.”
Anna paused to sip her hot chocolate. Jodi finally relaxed and smiled. The napkin she had been fiddling with in her nervousness had finally been discarded on the table.
“Nature often reflects spiritual truths and we have seasons just like trees do. When we go through winter ‘seasons’, often we don’t understand what is really going on within us. Secretly, in our hidden places, God is working in us - preparing us for our next season of growth...our next season of enlargement and fruitfulness. Right now Jodi, you are in a ‘winter’. But at the appointed time, the Lord will faithfully bring you out into the Springtime too!”
“Oh! Look at the time. Gotta rush Jodi!” Anna said as she stood to leave. “I’ll pay the bill,” she announced with a broad smile and left with an affectionate departing embrace.
Jodi was in no hurry to leave. Her soul had been rejuvenated, refreshed by the word from God. The symptoms of her lonely ‘winter’ paraded through her mind:
...God seems far away. I can’t pray, can’t get anything out of the Word like I used to. I feel empty, alone, doubting my salvation, emotional...
Finishing her cold coffee, Jodi sat for a while to reflect on her incredible encounter with God. Oh how could I have ever doubted Your love? All along You’ve been at work in me...on a deeper level. I didn’t recognize Your work, Jodi prayed. Today’s meeting with Anna was a Divine appointment! I’m in a Winter season, and I understand now exactly what has been happening to me...and in Your perfect time You will restore my joy and my broken life!
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