And no, I don't mean this. Although who doesn't like an '80s ballad now and then?
I'm talking about life, and especially life in Jesus, going through seasons. Like any relationship, our interaction with God goes through electric, exciting moments of engagement as well as dry, seemingly negative valleys where we feel like God isn't near. Here are the seasons of the spiritual life as I see them.
Everything is new. You are in a period where either you've just begun your relationship with God or God has brought you through a tremendous amount of trial and pain. Every passage of Scripture, every prayer, every song, every conversation is bursting with God's presence and you can't imagine thing ever being any different. Keeping up conversation with God and resisting distraction is second nature at this point.
The heat of summer becomes a time where you rest in the sun, soaking in the goodness of God and the electricity of spring develops into a contentment and trust in God's grace. Conversations with God come easily here, but they are changing as we become familiar with the feeling of God's presence in everything and soon begin to assume God is near and working in us and through us. Prayer, Scripture, and worship in community become familiar places - like your comfortable chair or the living room you grew up in and/or celebrate holidays in.
The contentment of summer turns to action. The energy gained from resting in God's love and grace through the summer creates a surge of desire to do - to pursue new spiritual disciplines, ministries within the local church, or projects outside the local church (such as workplace conversations). The focus is mainly external, leaning on less internal work (meditative prayer, etc.) and letting the energy of the summer flow through us as we work and move.
The natural turn is that we become discouraged through spiritual warfare in our external quests and we become too familiar with our conversational pattern with God. What emerges is a time when we are "struggling" spiritually - a term that troubles most people - but in all actuality simply means that one's relationship with God has come to a point of transition. It's a place where we begin to feel that God is distant when in fact He's simply so close but the "tingle" of Spring is gone. Also present is the discouragement of Satan as we pursue new places of growth - ideas come to mind that we can't truly be transformed, we can't grow, and our efforts to help bring restoration to our world are futile. Winter is when we retreat internally, become discouraged, and where some people walk away from the faith.
All four of the seasons above are normal and perfectly acceptable - they are normal ways that our relationship with God changes. What we need to do is embrace and identify what season we feel we are in and live through it.
Perhaps we alter our habits and pathways to God during the winter. If I'm an intellectual pathway person, what if I embraced more praise and worship music in my routine during Winter? What if I simply stay the course through the Winter even if the "warm and fuzzies" aren't there?
Are there descriptions you'd add to these seasons? How has God led you through these seasons in the past?