Winter in New England is a wonderful and challenging season. It's brisk and can be bone chilling. Sometimes you have to screw your "courage" and energy together just to go outside. It can be a season of contrasts; it can be dark and stark outside, yet cozy and warm inside.
When you courageously venture outdoors and take the time to look around, it can be a beautiful experience. You can experience the miracle of snow falling and its silencing affect when it blankets every horizontal surface. At this time of year you can see the bark and "bones" of trees - and their gnarly structure.
I have always loved the bare trees of winter. I appreciate their resolute and defiant stance against the cold and the wind. I like the way winter trees have nothing to hide - they simply are. However, what you see in winter trees is not all you get. They look dead. There is no apparent life. Yet, they are live. The life is underground; they store their food and nutrients in an elaborate root network under the surface. Deciduous trees are dormant in the winter, but they are far from dead.
Sometimes life looks similar to trees in the winter; there is much more going on than meets the eye. There are times when we seem very dormant emotionally, physically or spiritually - nothing much seems to be happening. During these times we don't look very good or impressive to others. They may think we are dying in one way or another. In such times we are not dying, however ... the life is simply underground.
If Christ lives in you, you are alive indeed! It might not look that way to others; you might not even look or feel alive to yourself, but you are alive! In the face of these barren periods, Scripture declares that even when you were dead in your sins, "God made you alive in Christ." (Colossians 2:13) We may be outwardly wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. This is the life and work of God in our lives. But, the life might be "underground" from time-to-time. "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:18)
The next time you see a tree standing alone in the cold, take a deeper look. Look with your imagination at its root structure. Picture its sap - its life blood under the surface, and enjoy its life, even though it looks dead. The next time you find yourself standing alone in a dormant season, look below the surface. Look into your own soul and declare the Life of Christ in that deep and mysterious place. Declare that you are very alive! And when you see someone else in that "winter" place, consider his/her invisible self - consider the inner person, and call life into his/her spirit in the name of Jesus. Don't be misled by what is visible.