When I'm in need of growth, I can always count on God to intervene, often before I myself realize I need it. Whether it's past baggage, spiritual complacency, or just plain maturing, he always shows up to help me move forward in my faith.
During these times, God uses one of two ways to grow me: he'll either send me out to be a pilgrim or he'll tell me to stay in and be a monk.
On the other end of the spectrum, a monastic season is any time God asks you to stay and be still. This time is marked by isolation, waiting, and stripping away. You sit in the loss and the restlessness, and you grow your capacity for faith and perseverance. Surprisingly, our time in Kosovo has been a monastic season for me. God asked me to stay home, rest, and do less work than ever before. I've been antsy as all getup, but I've learned (and relearned) how to be still and find my worth in God, not productivity.
Both of these seasons are hard, because they force you to grow. Even if you didn't know you needed it. Worse yet, you're apt to be jealous of everyone in the opposite season. Homesick pilgrims will long for the safety and comfort of the monastery, while stir-crazy monks will covet the adventure of pilgrimage. You may even find it easier to determine your season by what you're craving, rather than what's actually happening. But here's the kicker: despite what you want, you need to find a way to embrace the season.
Embracing your season doesn't mean that you'll enjoy it. It doesn't even mean that you'll understand why it's happening or what you're supposed to be getting out of it. Embracing your season simply means trusting God to do the work of that season in you. And letting him do it.
Rather than envying others or fighting against it, the best way to get through a season is to focus on how God will use it for good—as His word promises. Look for the blessings. Pray for the revelations. Be open to whatever change God wants to make in your heart. Trust that, whatever it is, it will be good.
This is why I chose to name the seasons after pilgrims and monks. Both the pilgrim and the monk have to keep their eyes on God to get through. The pilgrim needs God's strength and the hope that the destination will be good. The monk needs God's presence to give his isolation and asceticism meaning. Without God, they're just a nomad and a hermit. But with him, they have purpose. Their situations permeate their hearts.
No matter what season we're in—or even if we're between seasons—we need God's presence to make our situations transformational. I don't know about you, but I tend to be pretty stubborn and thick-headed. I don't grow on my own. I need a catalyst. So I've learned to be grateful for the seasons God gives me, which never fail to shake me up and spur me on. I've learned to befriend people in opposite seasons, encouraging them and learning from them, rather than just envying them. And I've learned to love my inner pilgrim and monk, who have lead me through so many transformations.
Friends, these seasons don't last forever, but they can leave quite a mark on our spirits. I hope that you will learn to embrace your inner pilgrim and monk, and trust in the God who never calls them out without purpose.
He will see you through the season.