Sunday, January 1, 2006

Overcoming the Winter Blues

I have a devotional I bought many years ago to use during the winter months. I have never read every devotion in it — I try, then miss a few days — try to catch up — get frustrated — put it away.

Winter is a particularly difficult time for many people, including me. I’ve always laughed and said I can take any temperature as long as it is a sunny day. Of course, this is a great exaggeration. There are sunny days in summer I spend whining in air conditioned comfort complaining of the heat. And there are sunny days in winter I spend whining in front of the roaring fireplace complaining of the cold.

But the rare sunny days in winter are more apt to make me grateful than the abundant sunny days of summer. There is something incredibly beautiful to see in the sunlight glistening on frosty ground. I can be instantly recharged waking up to a sunny winter morning that comes after a few days of cloudy gray.

I have been rereading my little devotional that I bought ten winters ago. The title of this devotional is Quiet Places of the Heart in Winter: Meditations for Women. As I mentioned, I have never gotten all the way through it and some winters I have skipped using it altogether. But each winter that I pull it out I am renewed by the daily scriptures and blessed by the insightful writings.

I want to share one of the devotions that touched a deep spot in my heart this winter. It is from Week Three, Day Two, which this time reading through fell on December 13:

“When God Says No”

The scripture for this day was, My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.” Luke 1:46-47. Here is the devotion:

“There are times when the one thing you want is the one thing you never get...All you want is an open door or an extra day or an answered prayer, for which you will be thankful.

And so you pray and wait.
No answer.
You pray and wait.
No answer...

May I ask a very important question? What if God says no?

What if the request is delayed or even denied? When God says no to you, how will you respond?...

Test yourself with this question: What if God’s only gift to you were His grace to save you. Would you be content?...You beg Him to save the life of your child. You plead with Him to keep your business afloat. You implore Him to remove the cancer from your body. What if His answer is, ‘My grace is enough.’ Would you be content?

You see, from heaven’s perspective, grace is enough.”

—From In the Grip of Grace by Max Lucado.

Wow...what a realization—God’s grace is enough. It seems like one of those “duh!” kind of thoughts. I should have known it all along. What more do I want? God gave me His grace when He sent His one and only Son to take on my sins at Calvary.

The hard part is the being satisfied part. The only way to be satisfied with God is to spend time with Him. It is a struggle to overcome the human wants, but I must be firm in my belief that His grace is enough. It is enough for me when the days are short and gray. It is enough when they are long and blue.

It is hard to be still in the silence waiting to hear from God. I think that is what winter is a picture of...all the plants die back, the air is cold, the skies are gray. It is the waiting for God time. It is the quiet with God time. It is the preparing for renewal time.

If all I get is His grace this winter, it is enough. Like Mary, I want my soul to magnify the Lord, and my spirit to rejoice in God my Savior because...

He is enough.

First printed January 2006 in The Freedom Reader, a publication of Spring Valley Freedom Bapist Church, Huntington, WV.