Dear Pastor's Wife

Dear Pastor’s Wife: The Meaning of Winter

Dear Pastor’s Wife,

My husband and I were chatting the other day and we ended up reminiscing about the moves we’ve made in our years of married life. We’re one of those couples that has lived in just a few geographical locations, but in many houses. And as we talked of our past, we realized a pattern to all of our moves:

October (Hello there, new country and large, five bedroom parsonage. Hello, hospital as our second home.)

October (Same date four years later. Not planned, but neat. Hello, house on a mink ranch.)

February (Hello, five hour drive in a blinding snow storm. To a tiny, mold infested four room duplex. God save us all from a move like this.)

November (Hello, three-level house without mold and with room for a piano studio. Walking distance from the church. Hello, snow belt and 11 feet of snow in 2011.)

January (Hello, bone chilling task of loading a truck in the dead of Canadian winter. Yes, we are insane. Hello, USA. Enter reverse culture shock for us and original culture shock for our children…and living with in laws temporarily while we did the myriad of tasks necessary after an international move.)

January (Hello, our own cute home in a subdivision. Enter a desperately needed sabbatical.)

February (Hello, beautiful, large and fully furnished home at Miracle Acres. Hello, easiest move ever. But still cold.)

Hmm. Did you see the pattern?

All of our moves have taken place in late fall or winter. Not spring.  And never summer.

Have mercy.

I gave you a few details about each house above. But really, the significance of those moves wasn’t in the new home or even the old. The significance was in the life story God was weaving at the time. And in our case, the significance was in what He brought us from, and what He brought us to.

I can look back and see how we had outgrown the old, and how the new brought us into a larger place- but not necessarily more square footage. Sometimes a larger footage of home, and sometimes a smaller one. But always a bigger space for us to grow as a family. Sometimes a bigger community with more opportunities, and sometimes a smaller one with fewer opportunities. Sometimes an expansion of ministry, and sometimes a narrowing of ministry. Sometimes a blossoming of friendships, and sometimes the wilting of them.

But always, every time- the move in winter brought spring in the form of growth and change in our hearts and lives. There are layers to this- it may be winter in one area while spring in another. Sometimes the winter is long- oh, so long. But it always bursts into spring at some point…then followed by summer. Oh, the joy of spring and summer! It’s when you see the results of the ground gone to sleep. It’s when you see the death bring forth life. It’s when the slowed-in-winter soil metabolism speeds up to produce fruit.

Brown turns to green.

Tight buds loosen. Colors flash, even over snow.

Sleepy eyes crack open. Paws stretch and faces yawn.

Beauty everywhere. New life is unstoppable.

Maybe you’ve lived and ministered in the same place for many years, and you don’t have a pattern of moves. But no doubt you do have winter times and watershed moments that you can remember throughout your life. Think back to your winters, and consider what they emerged into. Think about your springs, and what preceded them. Are there patterns? What is the meaning of winter for you?

Maybe you are in a winter waiting season now- desperately hoping that spring will come early this year. Maybe you’re buried under eleven feet of snow. Maybe you’ve just emerged into spring and you can feel the warmth of summer coming. It feels glorious after the shivering winter winds, and you secretly hope that it can be spring from now on. You really don’t think you can take much more of cold, hard, and barren.

Spring is the exhale that winter has held its breath for.

God only moves us forward in life, not backwards. Every move and every change is moving us along in His sanctification process, making us more like Him. Every cold, hard season prepares our hearts to burst open into a larger place of growth and wisdom and joy in Christ. Every dark season conceives the beauty of His holiness, to be birthed in future light.

In His time, He melts the snow and ushers in new life.  “He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.” {Ecclesiastes 3:11} “The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.” {Song of Solomon 2:12}

It’s coming. He’s coming.

And spring will most certainly be worth the winter wait.


A Kindred Spirit

2 thoughts on “Dear Pastor’s Wife: The Meaning of Winter

  1. Thank you Leah for taking the time to create these articles. They are an inspiration in my life after being in the same church for 44 years in Madison, IN as a pastor’s wife. Yes, life has been full. (Not in terms of moving like you, but in experiences.) I thank God for the Winters, Springs, Summers and Falls of ministry. I just ever want to continue to minister for Him as he allows.

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