Tshimologo Matlhaga is currently completing a Masters degree in International Relations at the University of Cape Town. She is passionate about pursuing Jesus and living in the fullness of His salvation; and has a heart to see nations and generations transformed by the power of the Gospel. She is currently trying to get the hang of being an adult, and is simply loving the great adventure that is life – messy and unpredictable as it is. She attends Church-on-Main in Cape Town.
One of my favourite things about living in Cape Town over the last few years has been finally being able to see and experience what changing seasons look like. I remember growing up in Gaborone and often thinking how ironic it was that I learnt in school that there were four distinct seasons of the year, but in reality, it seemed as if we only experienced summer and winter. Through the years in Cape Town, I have loved watching the leaves transition from a bright green to a burnt orange and eventually to a dry and crispy brown. I have stared in wonder as I’ve seen the long and rainy winter give way to the blossoming flowers and the clear, blue skies.
As with His design in nature, I have become convinced that God has carefully crafted our lives to mirror something of the reality of seasons.
And while we will go through many, many seasons over the course of our lives, there are some seasons that completely change us and set the foundation for years to come if we will yield to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to have His way in and through us.
I remember listening to Amanda Cook’s song “You Make Me Brave” a few years ago, and thinking to myself that I wanted to embrace a life of courage – to live a life that reflected the courage that the love of God leads us into. It was at around the same time that Hillsong’s “Oceans” was literally being sung everywhere. Though I often felt like those songs got more than their fair share of airplay, I couldn’t ignore the deep sense that through the words of those songs, the Holy Spirit Himself was whispering an invitation into my heart – an invitation to live as one who is brave, even fearless if you will.
Those songs came at a time where my life felt like it was at a bit of a crossroads – an in-between season, one might say. I had been processing some disappointment and in all honesty, I had started to embrace hopelessness, deciding that hope was too risky and too painful a thing to live in. I had been trusting the Lord for some very specific things and when nothing (and I truly mean NOTHING) worked out the way that I had hoped and expected, everything in me wanted to shrink back – to retreat from dreaming and from taking leaps of faith.I reasoned that hope was dangerous and I wanted no part of it because it made swallowing the pill of disappointment all the more painful.
But in the midst of that place, I began to realise that though we often have no control over the circumstances of our lives, we can choose our response and that makes all the difference in determining the fruitfulness of the season, regardless of what it may be. Even more than that, our attitude in the in-between times – the times when we’re waiting on God with no clear direction – often sets us up for the next season.
I remember the Lord clearly setting a choice before me in that time. I could either choose to remain in the place of frustration, to carry disappointment as a banner over myself or I could choose to embrace the place of courage despite my emotions – to believe that He is indeed good all the time and to allow myself to be anchored in His hope.
I began to allow my heart to be softened by the sweet invitation of the Holy Spirit; and when the Lord began to invite me to start dreaming all the wild and seemingly impossible things that I had been too scared to even whisper to myself, I realised that God was teaching me about trusting in His character and funny enough, moulding mine at the same time. I think that so often, we have dreams and there are things we want to see ourselves living in, but we look at where we have been or even where we currently find ourselves and somehow convince ourselves that because the Lord has not come through for us as we had hoped or expected, we may as well retreat into our shells and settle for ordinary. But that is a lie, and…
I am more convinced than ever that while God has incredible things for His children, He is more concerned with our character – with the intimacy of the journey – than with simply making our dreams come true.
Too many times, when we go through seasons that feel much like winter, we complain and grumble through it all, walking around with offended hearts instead of making room for the Holy Spirit to mould and shape our character so that we will be ready to walk into what lies ahead.
The story of that season is a long one filled with tears, laughter, shifting perspective, new friendships, wild dreams, and so much more. I look back on it now and I see how life-changing it was. I realise now that the things that God has for me will only harm me if my character is not ready to steward them well. During that difficult season, I felt like I was in a perpetual winter (with no sunny days) but I have learnt to embrace the beauty of the seasons I walk through with the Lord – be it a cold winter, a colourful autumn, a life-giving spring or a hot and beautiful summer.
I have learnt that we are a people meant for process – it’s how the Lord has designed us and despite the yearning to live in a never-ending summer, there is a certain clarity and perspective that winter brings.
It’s the season where we are forced to dig our roots down deep into the soil of His goodness to draw from the Living Water and where we have to make the seemingly difficult choice to worship Jesus when we think there’s nothing praiseworthy in our circumstances. But the beautiful thing is that the Creator knows the seasons. He is fully aware of just when to shift winter into spring, when to give the trees their leaves back and when to bring the summer rains; and in the same way, He watches over the seasons of our lives.
He does not slumber or sleep and at just the right time, if we would allow His processes to mould and teach us, we find the beauty of living in changing seasons with an unchanging God.
With Love, TM.