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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Winter (11/14/05)

TITLE: Jodi’s Winter Solace


Jodi’s Winter Solace

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?

Jodi nodded.

“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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Member Comments
Member Date
Denise Stanford11/21/05
All along You’ve been at work in me...on a deeper level.

What a wonderful reassurance this really is. I do believe God surrounds us with so many lessons in the everyday things. Your story is a delightful reminder of that, well put, unclouded, contrasting Anna's brightness and Jodi's cloudiness - the best of winter days.
Helga Doermer11/22/05
“Nature often reflects spiritual truths."
That is the secret of the cycle of the seasons. Opening our eyes, we find the Word given expression all around us.

Shannon Redmon11/23/05
A great reminder that God is always up to something good even when we feel dead! Ahhh, spring is just around the corner!
Shari Armstrong 11/24/05
Very nice- a good reminder that problems are only for a season.
Jesus Puppy 11/24/05
It seems we all have our down time.. the winter season to our heart and soul. The blessing becomes greatest when see those first shoots appear, the blooms of spring rising up to start us one our way... very well done..
Pat Guy 11/24/05
You describe our Spiritual struggle so well of the desire to 'understand' what we cannot. It's a dark place to be for there are no answers. Yet God is patient and kind in His Love and brings Light to us. Lovely.
Julianne Jones11/24/05
Beautifully written - as always. Great message combined with a creative approach. Loved it.
Nina Phillips11/25/05
This is really an awesome story. Engaging and wonderfully associated with our lives and affirmation of God's love. Nice post. God bless ya, littlelight
Kate Wells11/25/05
Beautiful! The next time I find myself in a winter season, I shall take hold of this life preserver you painted with your creative words... and hold on 'til Spring.
Thanks for writing this!
Suzanne R11/26/05
You've taken what could have been quite a reasonable devotional thought and made it accessible to the casual reader by putting it in a context many can identify with. Well done!

And praise God for friends like Anna.
Jan Ackerson 11/26/05
This was a lovely analogy. As a person who has dealt with depression, I'm not sure that having a freind talk to me like that would have done the trick so quickly--BUT--reading something like this would definitely have touched my heart. I'd like to see it re-worked, not as a story, but as a devotional. Very nice.
Garnet Miller 11/27/05
Depression is a hell unto itself. I have been there a few times myself. If it wasn't for the Lord, I would still be there. He spoke to me a few weeks ago through my sister when I asked Him to send me some help. Somehow, she knew what I was feeling deep inside and her words help unlock the hurt. I thanked God for hearing my prayers. He will never leave us desolate and alone in any season of our lives! Thanks for sharing this revelation:)
Debbie Sickler11/27/05
"She has been praying for me and has something to tell me from God?" This sentence explains why she was willing to be touched by her friend's story. Good job and by the way, Gloria Jeans is my brother's favorite coffee shop here in California, so it was a fun to see an Aussie mention it!
B Brenton11/28/05
This is beautiful! That Anna is a wise bird! ;)
It was a real blessing for me Karen, thanks and thank you Jesus for shining through you so ferverntly.