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Guest Blog written by Lisa Mainstone

Do you have a favourites season?

Is it autumn when the trees are arrayed in glorious colours and you can retreat indoors and put the heating on? Is it winter when Christmas dominates our thoughts and dreams of snow and gifts prevail? It might be spring when nature is beginning to 'spring up' with a new season of growth bringing with it increased light and a hope about the season ahead. Or you may love the summer and the fullness of life available in that season. Whatever your favourite season is, it is guaranteed that the seasons change and that each season has a place in our lives.

Each summer, with the exception of this year, my family and I make a trip to Minehead on the West Somerset Railway. It has become something of an annual tradition that we all drive down to the station at Bishop's Lydeard and board a steam train. There is something soothing about the journey through the countryside bordering Exmoor and it is a nostalgic experience. The journey comprises some tunnels, as you would expect on a railway, and I am always taken by surprise when I am suddenly propelled into darkness, even if only for a few seconds. It is disorientating and can be unpleasant, especially if the tunnel is a long one. Of course, we know that tunnels always end, right? But the initial response I have is always of surprise and discomfort before I can get perspective and tell myself, “It’s only a tunnel, it will end.”

There is no doubt about it, life has some winter and tunnel seasons! We cannot avoid them it seems. If you are like me and you love planning, you try to plan around things going wrong or being difficult. But the lockdown we were thrown into showed me that this is not always possible! There was no way I was going to avoid this one!! All my plans had to be thrown out. As everything in my life was stripped back it reminded me of the trees being stripped back in the winter. During the dark days of the early lockdown when the news was full of fear and death, I felt we had entered a tunnel and I felt disorientated and scared.

God has reminded me about the story of Joseph a great deal over the last few months. Joseph was enjoying a season of plenty and favour. It was a summer season. But then suddenly he experienced a reversal of his fortunes. If you know the story you will be familiar with the fact that he gets sold as a slave to Potiphar, is wrongly accused and thrown in jail, and spends many years there feeling forgotten. He had had dreams of a glorious future, but it must have seemed like those dreams were a lie as he waited in jail. However, God never forgot him. In due time God rescued him. He was remembered, rescued and promoted to a high position in the land. His dreams were fulfilled and as a result his family were reunited in Egypt, driven there by a regional famine which enabled them to settle there and multiply into the nation that would represent God. I love it! God has never forgotten our individual stories in what is going on in the world. He is always at work and he always rescues us and changes the season. The tunnel always does what it is designed to do - get us from one season or place to another.

Joseph was a changed man after his years in jail. He was no longer a proud lad but a humbled man, reliant on God and living for His glory. We read this once proud guy saying to Pharaoh, “I cannot do it but God will give Pharoah the answer he desires.” Winter or tunnel seasons have a habit of changing us as God exposes what is in our hearts and minds and challenges us to change them. Of course, we have to partner with God and respond appropriately but we have the opportunity to change through such times for the better ready for the 'spring' season ahead.

Whatever season 2020 has presented to you, be assured and encouraged that seasons do change by nature. Tunnels are designed to take you to another place of light. God is preparing you for new things. 'He changes times and seasons.' Daniel 2 v21

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