A 'Holy' Winter Season
And banishing the Winter Blues
Though there are still a few more weeks until spring, I feel as if I am emerging from a holy winter season.
You shall be holy to me, for I the Lord am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine. Leviticus 20.26 ESV
As I began writing this, the weather was in the single digits. Schools had been closed for days due to snow, sleeting rain, and ice-covered roads. We are in the south, so this is maybe a once-a-winter-occurrence.
‘Winter Blues’ are a thing!
Changes in seasons, less daytime hours, and colder temperatures all contribute to the winter blues. Go online, and you’ll find hundreds of articles offering advice on how to overcome it. Get outdoors and get moving, as in exercise and fresh air, is at the top of this list. (I’ll add this only works if it’s not dangerously frigid outdoors!)
It does make sense, though. When accustomed to a mobile and active lifestyle, being stuck indoors for days on end can become depressive. The suggestion is that by getting outdoors, you can work to banish the winter blues.
My holy winter experience goes much deeper than the weather or overcoming winter blues. Some might define what I’ve been walking through as a dry spell—a spiritual drought, if you will.
Have you experienced this? A spiritual drought may mean God seems far away. It’s hard to pray, and any prayerful language you produce feels stagnant or unheard. You long for inspiration from Scripture, but find yourself staring at the same page (or screen) for long minutes at a time, then wondering what you just read.
Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness… Psalm 96.9 ESV
In this winter season, I have experienced it. Some days, God felt distant. My devotion and prayer times were a bit of a struggle. The longing for His presence was there, but motivation was lacking. Possibly, my personal holy was off kilter.
That’s not to say I was neglecting Bible study, which is truly a highlight of my day. Sometimes, though, intense study and the mechanics of the routine can diminish the sacred and holy of our devotional moments.
My Holy Winter Season
The Spirit of God laid it on my heart to make some changes. I know it was Him, because I had become too devoted to my routine to ever make changes on my own.
Here are three simple changes I made at the start of the new year. These changes have helped me to lay aside my rigid routine, slow down, and be more open to what God has for me. I’m learning to find the holy in devotional moments, again.
#1. I changed the content of daily devotion time.
It can be helpful to try something new or switch your devotional routine around. At the beginning of this year, I began reading the One-Year Chronological Bible. No, I’m not abandoning my beloved Inductive Study Bible, but I felt compelled to do something different for a while.
It has upset my routine, all in a good way, to read through an entire book of the Bible in a matter of days. I’m seeing things I hadn’t seen before. I wake up anxious to read the day’s assigned reading. In addition, I’m reading a few inspirational books that have been in my ‘to-read’ stack for way too long.
#2. I changed the location of daily devotion time.
For years, I have had my devotions at the dining table in my kitchen. Recently, I decided to create a reading area in an unused corner of our master bedroom. I love the spot so much that I now have my devotional time there.
Now, I realize your situation may be quite different. You may live in a small apartment with minimal space options. If you have children or other family in the home, it can be challenging to find a spot for solitude with God. If you need a change in location, I pray you are able to find it.
#3. I changed up my approach to prayer time.
At the beginning of each year, I like to review what I call my prayer liturgy. This is simply the notes I use to guide my prayer time. My prayer notes always include selections from ancient prayers, or the Common Book of Prayer, and I like to change this up in January.
For the current year, I pull in different verses or passages for praying Scripture. I may insert words to pray that convey what God has revealed to be my word or Scripture for the year. Changes like this always help to breathe new life into my prayer time.
But as he who called you is holy, you also be holy… 1 Peter 1.15 ESV
This has been a holy winter season—a time of disconnecting from what had become my devotional ritual and leaning into the slow and sacred. I want to hang onto these holy moments, even as the newness of spring arrives.