A Pause in Winter

Paul's bonsai trees

One of the hobbies I have dabbled with over the years is growing bonsai trees. At the height of my initial enthusiasm, I had 35 trees. In the intervening years I went as low as two trees. I now have eight trees, two of my original trees that are well over 35-years-old, plus another 35-year-old tree I recently bought. I have also acquired some trees that would probably struggle to be called trees as they are under a year old.


One thing about growing bonsai trees, is that you learn to pay attention to the seasons. There is a time to plant, re-pot, prune, and feed, a bit like Ecclesiastes 3:1:

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”


As I was looking at my plants, I reminded myself that they will need some work in a month or so. I was thinking there are times in our lives when, like the bonsai, that not much seems to be going on. We were saying in the office how this year is so different without the two big events and the spike of activity and excitement that they bring for the three months of preparation before August. We were sort of feeling a bit flat.


God however reminded me that we are in a winter season which is the time living things prepare for the onset of spring. With our vision for the development of much more regional activity, we are in the pioneering and development stage of making connections, building relationships, and establishing teams. This all takes time, and it may appear that not a lot is happening. The bareness of winter is quite deceptive as this is where the deep work takes place, slow change that is well thought out, measured and usually internal.


There is often an impatience for winter to be over, for the warm weather of spring to arrive and the flurry of activity with buds, leaves, blossoms, and excitement. We have a beautiful cherry tree in the front of our property which is quite dreary right now but come spring it will be vibrant and beautiful. This can be the same for organisations and individuals, we long for the winter season to be over.


We live in a culture that thrives on excitement and because of it is quite shallow. Because depth comes from work, discipline, and preparation, which can be slow and tedious but oh so necessary. If we are looking for a result that is going to be all that God would have it, we have to put in the time in the winter season. We must be faithful in what God has given us to do whether we like it or not. Hebrews 10:36 puts it this way:

“You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”


Strangely this is the first verse that God gave me as a rhema word, and it is interesting that He has reminded me of it today. But whether it is a winter season for you personally, the family that you belong to or an organisation, you need to persevere with the tasks you have been given, as do I. Only if we do the winter well will there be a God sized harvest in summer. As I write this, I find it interesting that Matariki the Māori New Year we have just acknowledged is in the dead of winter, but it is still a good time to re-evaluate our lives. Our traditional western New Year celebration is also in the dead of winter in the Northern Hemisphere from whence it came. So that is also consistent.


What season are you in? Are you living that season well? It may be time to take stock and reapply yourself to whatever season you are in.


I know God is challenging me, what about you?



Paul Monahan