Our seasons in life and faith can have a big impact on growth in the Lord. What are some principles to keep in mind as we disciple others, and as we seek to be discipled?
Great Post…Wrong Season!
Many of the blogs I follow are written in the Northern Hemisphere. At the moment my blog reader and email box are filled with seasonal posts. ‘How to survive Summer with the kids’. ‘Getting the family into holiday Mode.’ I’m sure they are really helpful posts. It’s just that, that is not where I am at at the moment. Right now, I am snuggling in front of a toasty warm fire. I want a post on “How to keep the kids from destroying my home when I can’t send them outside.” (The first week of our two week winter holiday hosted a storm. It shut down transport, closed roads and blew our weather station off the roof!)
I pondered this abundance of advice and resources which are useful yet not immediately relevant. It struck me that our own growth in the Lord can be like this. As we are mentored, or we mentor others, some information or teachings can hit home with pinpoint accuracy. Others seem to miss the mark totally. Why so different?
The Holy Spirit’s Work
One reason is that the Holy Spirit is at work in us and through us in ways that only God can understand. I am sure you have experienced that feeling of reading a verse you have read a hundred times before and having it stand out in a way you had never seen. Sometimes I am surprised at the things I have said which people pick up on and are blessed or challenged by. Often when I actually intended the message to be something quite different. As God’s Spirit nudges or gently (or not so gently) challenges and convicts each one of us in personal ways we will all respond differently.
Relevance to our current season
Another reason, I believe, is that we are all in different seasons in life and faith. A young woman who is engaged will be very open and eager to receive godly marriage advice and counsel from other women. Not so much a 90 year old, whose husband died 5 years earlier. Women in the throes of parenting babies and toddlers will want to learn from others who have walked that way before. Our seasons in life will influence which input we are on the lookout for and which input we do not see as relevant.
Seasons in Faith are also influential in this I believe. Seasons of doubt, seasons of joy, seasons of growth. Different seasons will lead us to be more open to different kinds of counsel and encouragement or challenge.
The Need to Plan Ahead
What would happen though, if we only ever focused on the season we are in? Scripture addresses this in a positive way…
Psalm 1: 1-6 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; …
There is an underlying principle though Scripture that we are to prepare, to put in the work beforehand, so that we are ready for the seasons which will inevitably come. In order to do this we need to take our focus off our current season at times, and prepare for times to come.
In a physical sense this means that my husband works hard over the summer months to gather enough fire wood so that I can sit in front of the fire, cosy and warm, at peace, when the cold times come.
Investing in our Faith
What about the Spiritual sense of this principle? When we build up our faith in advance, laying down the foundations of Knowing our God and His ways and planting His word deep in our heart, we prepare ourselves to face times of difficulty and challenge with confidence and faith. I believe that this is where the true beauty of older, more experienced women coming alongside younger women can be seen.
For a younger woman , the trials of heartache, loss, sickness, poverty, and a myriad of other challenges may be like the idea of Winter to someone sitting on a beach in the middle of Summer. They KNOW it will probably come eventually, but they’re certainly not rushing out to buy winter coats and learn how to set up a fire. In fact, for someone who has never experienced Winter, they may not even have any idea of WHAT to do to prepare.
But a woman who has lived life for a little longer will know that “Winter” will come and that NOW is the time to prepare. Now is the time to study and hide God’s Word and His promises in our heart. Now is the time to exercise muscles of faith in the small things so that those muscles will be strong and ready when the big trials come. A woman who has walked through her own “Winters” has great wisdom about the preparation needed and the necessity of it.
What does this have to do with Discipleship?
What principles for discipleship can we find in all of this?
- By all means, take advantage of the seasons of life and faith. Use the focus and motivation to learn each season brings. Invest in teaching and building up principles from God’s Word for each season as they are relevant and timely. Be willing to share both principles, and methods you have used to implement them in your own life. Use the wisdom you have gained to help others in each season as they face it. (I experienced this myself in my year of engagement. The mother of one of my students took time, many afternoons after school, to chat with me about little snippets of her own married life. I am fairly confident that this was a deliberate action on her part. She poured into me Biblical principles for my own upcoming marriage.)
- Be deliberate in recognising the value and necessity of “storing up” Biblical truths, principles, and big picture understandings. Even when they may not seem relevant right now. Be willing to push a little to encourage investment into the future. (As a university student I was focused on “God’s will” for me and what courses I should take. I wondered if I would ever get married etc. I am so pleased that godly people in my life encouraged me to read and study deep truths of Scripture not related to these things. In the years ahead I faced the loss of babies, the birth of a child with Down Syndrome and many other trials and challenges. I clung to those truths. )
- Share your own “seasons in life and faith”. This will allow younger women in the faith to begin to see the necessity of preparing. They may begin to see the relevance of truths and principles which may not seem important right now.
- Challenge those we disciple to use the wisdom they have gained in own lives to walk alongside others and help them to face current seasons or to prepare for seasons to come.
I will probably read a few of those Summer holiday posts. It may even be wise to file some ideas away for when our own Summer holidays come. I will also keep my eyes peeled for that post on surviving Winters inside! I’m sure both will stand me in good stead for the future! I will also continue to learn and grow in my faith in preparation for the future. I will also continue to point others to do the same!