Recently, I’ve been going through a pretty dry spell spiritually. As I was talking to the Lord about this one morning, He brought to my mind a verse out of 2 Timothy chapter 4 where Paul urges young Timothy to be ready both “in season” and “out of season,” to preach the Word. As this verse began to pace back and forth in my understanding—the time spent in meditation began to bless me and encourage me in the Lord. Being “out of season” refers to the plant world where in colder regions trees and other plants go into a type of hibernation during those months. All we see from the outside is that the tree loses its leaves—and it looks barren and sad. That is how I was feeling as I struggled through this spiritually dry time. My emotional state was starting to be too focused on just outward things. That is when the Lord had me take a look into what a tree does when it is dormant.
Trees are anything but inactive during their “out of season” times. They shed their leaves so that there will be limited limb damage when they face the cold months. In addition to this, they also begin to beef up on certain chemicals in their cells. This concentration of certain chemicals lowers their water content—which allows the tree to survive the harsh winter temperatures without freezing and being damaged. Another thing that is happening takes place under ground. The root system continues to grow throughout the winter months. This slower growth is vital to the health of the tree the next spring. It allows for the tree to provide for the water needs it will have the following year. These are the things the tree is doing in its time “out of season.” Then the Lord began helping me to see applications for my own life through His example in nature.
When we are “out of season” we need to focus on growing deeper in the Lord. Focusing on the outward will probably depress us—so we should change our focus accordingly. Just as the tree drops its leaves to prepare for winter winds and storms, we should prepare our hearts for troubles and difficulties that are part and parcel of the human experience. As the tree concentrates chemicals to protect itself—we too should labor to increase the “concentration” of the Word in our minds and hearts. It will keep us from being “frozen” spiritually and falling into spiritual laziness or inactivity when dry times come. Finally, we should seek to deepen our relationship with the Lord during these times—just as the tree focuses on the root system. Grow deeper in the Word, in discipleship, and in “just being faithful” even when we might not “feel” like it. Hopefully these things will encourage you in your “out of season” moments.