There are “seasons” when one teacher seems more attuned to where one is in life than any other teachers. Joni E. Tada is one whose spiritual insights seem to be particularly helpful right now to me, as observed when I read her recent devotional entitled “In and Out of Season” reprinted below.
Come along and join me today in the role of mentor and teacher to women in residential recovery. Imagine 5-6 spiritual babies or teens constantly requiring “bread” or “meat” or “water” (image: a nest filled with open mouthed newly hatched or fledgling birds squawking from the moment their eyes are open each day.) The task of feeding them is a 24/7 task for months. Initially, their hunger is for safety, physical care, and connection characterized by establishing needed medical and mental health services, vision care, dental care, legal appointments, counseling, children visitation, clothing, food, etc. Eventually, as those “hungers” are satiated, our prayer is that they begin to have the hunger and thirst for righteousness that is born out of brokenness and humility and having invited the Holy Spirit into turn their hearts to begin the work of spiritual transformation. Some will mature enough to begin feeding themselves in the Word and growing into the beautiful new creatures God intended. Others simply get filled on the physical manna and then take off on their own again, leaving a relationship with Christ a matter of business to attend to another time. The daily efforts can exhaust and frustrate our little band of volunteers some days. There are times when tempers rise, ours and theirs, as we wade through the resistance, manipulations, lies, transference, dependency, and other behaviors that characterize addictive behavior. Since I, as program manager (Imagine: “mother goose”, “old woman in a shoe”, residence hall monitor, appointment scheduler, gatekeeper, school principal, etc.) am the one the women look to for meeting most of their daily needs, it can become particularly challenging to remain “in season” all the time. Some days I want to hide in the sanctuary of my sunroom retreat in silence or curl up with a blanket and binge on the Word or cry out to God about my needs. Few days pass without demands being made on my time that had not been on my schedule. When one fledgling begins to “fly” on her own, there is relief and joy and breath-holding to see if she really has learned to rise on the wind with the power of faith in Christ to sustain her.
Here is Joni E. Tada’s description of the challenge we face:
Out of Season
“Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction.” 2 Timothy 4:2
It’s easy to witness when it’s easy. You wake up to a bright day brimming with possibilities, spiritual energy surging as you breeze out the door, giving your smile and a “God bless you” to everyone you encounter. You’re stout-hearted, you feel good, and God has never seemed so gracious. You’re happy that neither headache, heartache, or backache distract you from freely offering words of witness. You are, as they say, witnessing “in season.”
Then there are “out of season” days. Your shoulders sag, your heart feels dry, and you wonder if God has abandoned you for some more happy-spirited Christian. Before the day hardly begins, you write it off, promising God you’ll be back in action tomorrow, or at least by Sunday. You slump into retreat, hoping no one passes your car and “honks because they know Jesus.” You’re just not up for encouraging others in Christ.
But God is. He wants you to encourage and instruct “in season and out of season,” whether you’re up for it or not. In fact, He may use those unseasonable moments more powerfully than the easy ones. God always honors gutsy faith, sacrificial service and tough love. He is glorified when you push through the doldrums, shake off the fog, and shine His love. Sharing Christ “out of season” shows a real lived-out human act of preference for Him.
Are you “out of season” today, intending to take a break and some time off from encouraging others in Christ? Don’t allow your emotions or the day’s events to deter you from sharing the Word. The season may not seem opportune, but with Christ, it always is. Encourage and instruct!
Lord, will you please be my energy today? Will you be my strength? Lend me your words, your attitude, and your desire. Help me to be your witness, no matter what the circumstances. I may be out of season, but I take you at your Word. I’m ready.
Joni and Friends’ Devotional January 8, 2016 from:
More Precious Than Silver
Copyright © 1998
By Joni Eareckson Tada
Published in Print by Zondervan, Grand Rapids