The January – February landscape in the Midwest, where I live, is radically different from the vibrant display that is witnessed at certain other times of the year. The first verse of the wonderful song, “America the Beautiful” would not have been written the same way if the writer were viewing the fields in January. There are very few “amber waves of grain,” or “fruited plain” for the next couple of months. The lyrical structure would have missed the easy rhyme of “plain” and “grain.” In place of the “waves of grain” lie fields that are past harvest, perhaps with only the remaining stubble. Some have been plowed under, and will be replanted with another crop to allow particular soil components to be replaced.
Even the winter sky is different. In place of the stark white cumulus clouds of Spring seen against the backdrop of huge stretches of blue, the sky is stratified with shades of grey, and even these are limited.
Sometimes it seems, especially later in the winter, that the earth is just marking time. We like to see things grow, and very little is growing that we can see. While some fruit, like apples, may need a certain chill to become sweeter, very few continue to improve as winter progresses and becomes deeper and colder.
But just because we do not see things growing in the fields does not mean that nothing is going on. With some plants, root systems are developing. In other settings, particular pests or bugs are exposed and die off or are controlled. When the ground is turned over, certain fungi dies in the cold. Seeds in the ground are going through a particular process. And even perennial plants have a process that continues unseen.
Most of us know all this as a reality. The farmer does not fret when his wheat is not ripe in January. He knows in the Spring it will begin to sprout, will grow during Summer and by Fall, be ready to harvest. The farmer must be a person that understands the rhythm and many processes of nature.
Nature was given us by God to help us understand Him and how He works. Faith is not looking at a crop ready for harvest. Faith is toiling to prepare ground, investing in seed and not eating it but planting it, putting it in the ground and covering it up. Faith is the waiting for weeks before one sees anything, and with some plants even years. Faith is seeing the plant show above ground, but not touching it early. Any interruption will distort its final product.
Faith is what we have to exercise with children, trusting that God is faithful. Faith is working with friends, not seeing progress for an interminable length of time, and when we begin to see change, still having to wait until eternity to see the end result.
So relax. It is Winter. Spring will come. And if it is Winter in your life, let what God is doing, perhaps unseen to others, prepare you for his wonderful Spring, Summer and final harvest.