Does this week find your faith in wintery conditions? Take heart and read the latest blog post from Sarah Rock-Evans, Ordinand at St George & St Paul, Tiverton.
January is regarded by many of us as a cold, dreary month – and not unreasonably so. The days are still short, temperatures low and sunshine is often in short supply. As I write, the last few days have been particularly grey, as if the sky is depleted of energy, and nature is lacking in life. But in case you feel I am about to send you into a state of gloom, this is not the full story. Deep in the ground, the bulbs, whose flowers will soon be nodding their cheery heads in the breeze are preparing to emerge, sprouting upwards through the cold earth. Apparently cherry trees actually need cold for their buds to develop and many others use the winter as a period of dormancy for “housekeeping” maintenance. Far from being a period when everything is just waiting for Spring, nature is in fact quite busy during our much-maligned winter.
In keeping with nature, it is well recognized that our journeys of faith can be seasonal too. There are times when following Jesus feels joyful and fruitful – prayers are answered, we sense the Holy Spirit with us, Church life is fulfilling. Then there are other times, perhaps the winters of faith, when being a Christian feels at much more flat, less rewarding, unclear.
On Sunday, our vicar, Rev Andy Humm spoke to us about persevering in faith – trusting God even when we can’t really see where He is leading us, or when He seems far from us. As he shared with us, we are often able to look back on those times with hindsight and see where God was at work and how he was, in fact, using those difficult circumstances to prepare us for something new – just like the plants use the winter cold for their future flourishing.
Psalm 31 tells us “Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” So if this week finds your faith in wintery conditions, hold on to that verse, and keep persevering. Take your weariness to the Lord, who hears you and cares for you. Share your worries with a trusted friend or listen to some hymns or worship music that speak the truth of God’s love over you. My prayer is that you will sense God’s renewing Spirit with you as you persevere and that those moments of winter will become faith-building opportunities for growth.
Sarah Rock-Evans, Ordinand (the term for someone training to be ordained as a priest or minister)
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