Are You in a Fall Season of Your Soul?
By Elizabeth Enlow
Excerpt from "God in Every Season"
Available on Amazon November 11, 2017
Fall — Unique Fears, Lies, and Temptations
With each new season, comes the unique, yet familiar fears, lies, and temptations that our souls are especially susceptible to during that time. If you're currently in a fall season in your relationship with God, some of these will really resonate with you.
This year my husband and I were talked into getting annual passes to Disneyland by our children. Not for them, but just for us. They thought it would be a good idea for us to take an entire day at least once a month to spend time alone in Disney’s never ending fun-zone near where we live in Southern California — and they were so right. We love the creativity, the food, and the brilliance of all that is Disney, but we quickly realized we don’t like roller coasters. Perhaps that’s because our lives have been too much like roller coasters already with the ups and downs of pastoring God’s people and plain old life on this planet. Just riding the drama alone that comes with raising your own kids can feel like a roller coaster at times — sometimes you just throw your hands up and have a blast, while other times you’re so scared you just want to get off so you can go throw up! (Sorry, is that too graphic?!) I guess some people thrive on fear, but that wouldn’t be me. But fear seems to find us, whether we look for it or not.
A fear that’s common in the fall season is that you'll never bear fruit again. You know how long it took to get to where you are now and it may seem like it could never all work out again like it did before. You may literally or figuratively feel too old to go around that mountain again. But God gives us grace for today, not for tomorrow. So stay present.. Don’t let anything rob you of the celebration of where He’s brought you to today. He will renew your strength in the crisp, fresh air of this season of your soul and woo you back, once again, to the path that leads to the next beautiful sunset.
“Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14
Other fears you may face in your soul in fall are the fear of letting go and the fear of what's next. It’s kind of like a person in a circus on the flying trapeze. There’s the scary moment when they’re free-falling, when they’ve let go of one trapeze behind them to reach out with perfect timing to grab the one that’s ahead of them. People often forget the real star of the show — the one who is already in the next place they’ll land, who makes sure that the trapeze they need to grab hold of next is precisely where it should be when the leap is made. Depending on the day or time of this season, you either feel like you’re free or like you’re falling. But either way, your Hero is setting you up for a successful landing. You can count on Him.
No matter how much work you’ve done to get to this place, don’t believe the lie that you’ve accomplished it in your own strength. The problem with believing that lie is that it will keep you stuck working when you could be resting and celebrating. What brought you here will keep you here as long as you need to be and will bring you back when it’s time. Another lie that can stifle your harvest celebration is that it wasn't good enough. Believing that lie is a sure sign that you’ve taken off your hope glasses that you learned to put on during spring. You still need them. You still need a hope-filled perspective that anticipates good from God in every area of your life, other’s lives, and in the world. When you are convinced that Papa loves you, you’re more easily able to see that there is victory everywhere around you. Lastly, don’t accept for a moment the lie that says you’re finished and you can just coast now. Whatever your age, until your last breath, keep moving forward in and with Him. Remember, what He is connected to always only, ever increases — that means you!
Strangely, a season where we should feel the most mature, can actually tempt us to be triggered back to our more immature ways of processing. You may be tempted, like a toddler with its toys, to hold on tightly to what you’ve accomplished or gained. We can do this with stuff and assets we’ve acquired, as well as with wisdom, truth, and revelation we’ve found. It’s not yours. It never was. So how will you steward what you’ve been entrusted with? Will you spend it on yourself or do the harder thing and spend it on something that will outlive you?
In fall seasons there’s also a temptation to believe that it wasn't perfect, so it didn't count. Some of us are wired a little more black and white, and we think very critically of ourselves and, well, pretty much everything. The good part of that is that we can easily see what needs improving. The not-so-good part is that it keeps us from seeing and celebrating what is good. You, it, everyone, will never be perfect — so, yes, it did count. God loves whatever we offer up to Him and He never demands or expects perfection from us.
Don’t be tempted to stop moving forward, to stop increasing. Maybe you’re happy with where you’ve landed in this season, and you should be, but don’t stay too long. Enjoy the fruit of your labors while not forgetting there’s always more ground to be taken for the King — in your heart, in the areas of culture you’re passionate about, and in the nations.
One of my favorite examples of how to keep increasing is from the life of Gideon. His story is told in the book of Judges. Gideon was an Israelite generations after God had brought them out of captivity in Egypt. They were a people whose forefathers had seen God’s supernatural power and faithfulness on their behalf against their enemies. But in Gideon’s lifetime the Israelites had compromised, so God had allowed their enemy, the Midianites, to make their lives miserable and steal everything they worked hard for. Obviously God was looking for the Israelites to become desperate enough to cry out for what He longed to give them — intimacy with Him and His ways that comes with the perks of Divine help.
An angel of the Lord came to Gideon where he was hiding in the wine press and threshing his wheat, away from the Midianites so they couldn’t steal it. The angel spoke to Gideon and called him a mighty man of valor and told him that God was with him. The angel almost seems to be mocking Gideon, but I believe Gideon’s honest response reveals something important and relevant to us today. Gideon spewed frustration and pointed out that, even though past generations had witnessed God’s intervention, God had forsaken their generation and delivered them into the enemy’s hands. The angel replied with excitement, “Go in this might of yours! You will save Israel because I’m sending you.” Gideon’s might was his frustration of not seeing God be God on their behalf. He wanted to see God display His care for them and God wanted to show it. The Lord loved it that Gideon noticed His presence was missing. Continue to give into a holy frustration and desire to see more of God’s intervention in your life so you can bear more fruit. There’s always room for more of His presence in you and around you. Get all you can out of this season so that you’ll be ready to take up another cause for the sake of Love and His kingdom.
Finally, the danger for any of us in this season is to keep the glory for ourself and make it all about us, like Lucifer did. We were created to experience a glory of our own that we could then give back to Him. He loved us first so that we might have love to give back to Him. God gives you overflow of what is His, not because He wants something from you, but because He wants to add you into His circle of love, unity, and relationship — where you both give and receive in His unending circle of love. In the fall season of the soul it may be easy to focus on the results rather than on the One we partnered with in the process. It's important in this time to not only publicly give God the glory, but privately as well. Celebrate the intimacy that was behind it all. One of my favorite quotes says it best — "All because two people fell in love." Whatever joys this season has brought you, it’s all because He loved you and you loved Him back. It’s always been a love story. The fall season remind us that it’s just that simple.