The Garden of God
Beauty For Ashes Part 5 - George H. Warnock
CHAPTER 2 - WINTER...ASLEEP IN THE SNOW
"While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease" (Gen. 8:22).
This was God's covenant with Noah when he and his family came out of the ark. So God has ordained our seasons. In the next few chapters I want to talk about each of the seasons in turn... our emphasis being on harvest time, and what our Gardener is looking for in the day of harvest. And although there are many places in the earth where only two seasons are recognized (some places perhaps only one)... up here where we live in the far North, we expect four seasons. Officially our winters are supposed to start about the third week of December, and spring is supposed to follow about the third week of March. But winter is one visitor who will generally make his appearance before the due date in December, and he seems to linger around much longer than his scheduled departure date in March. He may leave for a brief time when he is reminded "spring time" has come. But generally he will drop back several times in the next couple of months before he leaves the country... just to say "hello... and good bye". But we know God has ordained the seasons wherever we may be living on this planet; and He has made us hardy enough to survive the worst of winters. Not denying, of course, that many of our people will migrate to the deep South as December approaches. "Snowbirds" is what they are called by those who live in those warm climates. But come spring, and our "Snowbirds" are back again to enjoy our beautiful summers here in the far north. And so we will consider the seasons as four, ...winter, spring, summer, and autumn... and in that order, for Jesus said, "the harvest is the end of the world".
Come into my garden when the snow is piled high, and underneath everything is frozen and lifeless. All you can see is a picture of death and coldness. There is no sign of life and nothing to delight the eye. All lays silent and bare beneath a blanket of snow. If anything ever grew there, no one would ever detect it now. It seems so tragic. What could have happened?
Of course we are quite familiar with the seasons, and we know it is just not the time for growth; and we are content to let nature take its course. But not so in the spiritual realm. We must never tolerate any negative thoughts of coldness and barrenness. In spite of the temperature or the snow or the season--we insist on sowing some seed, or reaping a harvest, or looking to the Lord for showers of blessing. I know we must be "always ready" to do the will of God. But Jesus said, "My time is not yet come: but your time is alway ready" (Jn. 7:6). Disciplined sons are not 'always ready' to do whatever they think has to be done. But they do stand ready to obey the voice of their Lord and Master at all times. They move in God's Spirit... not in their own.
In God's purpose there are seasons and times for opposite things. And God would have us know that the things that are contrary to us, even these things become part of God's plan, who knows how "to work all things together for good, to them that love God". Paul experienced these workings, and therefore could testify "that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel" (Phil. 1:12). He found himself "approved" as a minister of God, "By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; as sorrowful yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things" (2 Cor. 6:7-10). He knew there were opposite seasons in life, and that as he was faithful "in season, and out of season"... God would be glorified in his life and ministry.
Let us not blame every uncomfortable situation on the Devil. It is God who sends the winter... for He ordained all the seasons. Or is it God who sends the south wind, and Satan who sends the north wind? No,--it is God! "Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden..." (Song. 4:16). Is it God who sends the rain, and the Devil who sends the snow? No, it is God!
"He sendeth forth his commandment upon earth:
His word runneth very swiftly.
He giveth snow like wool:
He scattereth the hoar frost like ashes.
He casteth forth his ice like morsels:
Who can stand before his cold?"
It is God who "sends" it, and He wants us to know it is part of the cycle He ordained for the good of man. He wants us to know that under the cloak of snow and ice there is a promise of hope. Hope for the next season of spring! There can be no real spring if there is no real winter. They only enjoy real spring who have lived through the long dreary days and nights of our northern winters. Those who live in temperate climates the year round know little or nothing of the snow and the ice and the frost and the blizzards of the wintry north.
You cannot manufacture the true joy of the Lord. The joy of the Lord is born out of sorrow, and barrenness, and suffering. You do not send for the birds when the winter is over and gone; they just appear when the right season comes around. We enjoy hearing the chirp of the robin when the snow is still on the ground, and the days are cool. We know that spring time is not far away.
It is the "joy of the Lord" that comes with every measure of the Cross He places upon our shoulder. It is not our joy, but His... and ours as we become identified with Him in His sufferings... believing where we cannot see, and hoping in endurance for the fulfillment of the promise when all seems contrary to it. It is the joy that comes after the sacrificial life is poured out at His feet, and its fragrance fills the whole house where He is sitting. To that sacrifice of a broken and contrite spirit, He Himself takes the pure anointing oil containing all the, fragrance of myrrh and sweet cinnamon and sweet calamus and cassia and pours it on His people. But this holy oil also contained ingredients of bitterness (Ex. 30:23-33). For He is the great High Priest, who has been "anointed with the oil of gladness above His fellows"; and He shares that anointing with them, as they come into union with Him. It is His joy and gladness... and ours as we abide in Him and share His sufferings.
Joy .. Even in Winter
"Praise the LORD from the earth...
Fire, and hail; snow and vapor; stormy wind fulfilling his word"
(Psa. 148:7, 8)
The weeping sisters said, "Lord, if thou hadst been here my brother had not died". But Jesus had already told His disciples that it was for the glory of God that He would not be there. Stormy wind fulfilling His word!
"Why are you sad-faced, and so dejected and disheartened?" said the Stranger to the disciples who were on the way to Emmaus. "O haven't you heard?" they replied. "Heard what?". "About Jesus of Nazareth the great Prophet, who did so many wonderful things. We were sure He was the Messiah, but they crucified Him three days ago. There are rumors He is alive again, but it's hard for us to believe it!" Stormy wind fulfilling His word!
Mary Magdalene stood at the sepulchre of Jesus weeping, and her eyes were so filled with tears she could not discern the face of the One she loved standing by her side. Stormy wind fulfilling His word!
Hear Jacob's sad lament: "Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and now ye will take Benjamin away all these things are against me!" If only he knew! All these things were actually working together for his good, and for the glory of God who had taken Joseph from the prison to set him above princes. Stormy wind fulfilling His word!
"Call me not Naomi, call me Mara..." said Naomi to her friends and relatives in Israel, when she had returned from the land of Moab: "For the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me." Little did she realize that God was working out in her life the secret of His own will, and preparing the way for the birth of David, and of David's Son and Lord in centuries to come! Stormy wind fulfilling His word!
Chapter 3 - Spring...Awakening In New Life
Table of Contents