By Keona Tann
For Tasmanians our winter season can be harsh and seem to drag on endlessly. We battle cold mornings, frost, grey rainy days and even snow, hail and bitterly cold winds at times.
I was at the beach one cloudy wintery morning and the sun was desperately trying to break through. I could see a patch of blue sky and it spoke to me of the promise of the end of winter. A few days later I went to my backyard and looked at my bare, seemingly barren, fruit trees. With a clear blue sky up above I was again reminded that one day soon the fruit tree will bloom and bear fruit again.
The last 2 years have been one of my winter seasons. As I've battled illnesses and disease I feel like that barren fruit tree. I have faced a heartbreaking hat trick - I've been stripped of my health, lost my job due to my illness and lost our beloved family dog.
So many times I've wondered if my winter season will ever come to an end. With the seasons of the world we know when their end period is. We can mark on the calendar the coming of a new season and count down the days. But when facing a season of illness or hardship we have no known end date. We are simply left to hope and pray that it will end soon! Just like the patch of blue sky breaking through the dark clouds, we can find moments of small breakthrough. We can hold onto those moments as promises that the season will end, that we will soon embrace our blue sunny days!
I was comforted to be told, by God, that I am a daffodil bulb. He showed me how the flowers need to hide as they are too delicate to contend with the harsh winter conditions. We too need to hide ourselves in God, as in Psalm 62:5 “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone.” So rather than give up hope, just like the daffodil, I will snuggle down into the ‘dirt’, germinating and waiting for the right time to bloom!
Not only do fruit trees need to contend with the harsh winter conditions but ALSO with pruning!!!
God spoke to me about submitting to the pruning season in life. We have been truly blessed with our lovely fruit trees and the first year we had wonderful amounts of fruit. The next year, due to my illness, I was unable to prune the trees and my husband was too busy working full time and caring for the family. So guess what?! The poor trees bore less fruit. The following year was the same and they bore even less fruit. You see the pruning season is vital! You have to remove the dead limbs so that new life and fruit can spring forth. For us the pruning season can be long and painful but, through my fruit trees, God revealed that it's vital! That for me to bear good fruit I need to remove the 'dead' stuff in my life. The stuff that's hindering my fruit from coming forth!
After you've pruned your fruit tree it looks so sad, so barren and dead. But excitingly spring comes and suddenly small buds form, a blossom blooms, leaves form and finally the fruit tree bears fruit!
I'm fortunate to have very smart family members- an embalmer; a hydraulics engineer; a minister; 2 doctors; a brother in law with many degrees; a qualified builder; a psychologist and a teacher. Now the common factor they all have is that it took time, energy, study, practice and hard work to achieve.
I'm struck down by the thought that my years of hardship (pruning) were my training years! What happened during that period? Time passed (even if it felt like it dragged); knowledge and wisdom was imparted; my heart was softened and my spirit strengthen! All the prayers went before me; all the verses I spoke over my life paved the way; all the events I attended broke ground; all the tasks that I completed weren't in vain and the little faith that, I held onto through all that, begins to bloom abundantly!
Studying can be hard, boring and seem pointless at times. But if you're where you are right now because you have felt called or because you're simply trying to move forward in something. Can I encourage you that it's NOT in vain! You will one day, hopefully soon, realize why you're where you are right now.
Do what you can when you can!
This mantra has been mine during my illness. Some days the 'what I can' is almost nothing. Some days the 'when I can' is almost non-existent. But small acts of faith can achieve great results! God can take our 'little' and grow it beyond our wildest dreams! It may seem like an insignificant baby step but rejoice that ANY step forward is progress! Rejoice that it means you're just a little bit closer to that dream!
If you're in the winter season know that spring comes! The harsh winter ends! If you're in the pruning season know that you will bloom gorgeous blossoms and bear sweet fruit! Whichever process you're in now take hold of Gods promises!
Keona Tann has lived most of her life in the beautiful Australian state - Tasmania. She has been married to her college sweetheart for over 20 years. Keona and her husband consider themselves extremely blessed to be raising 2 wonderful teenagers. They have also been long time child sponsors with Compassion. Keona's working life has seen her develop over 15 years of customer service experience. Health issues have plagued her for 28 years and over the past 2 years have been severely debilitating. Seeking direction from God her passion for writing was recently reignited. Writing the following mission statement: "I desire to impact the world through the words I share. I long to enrich, empower and encourage others whilst delivering my stories with empathy and understanding." she hopes to launch her new career soon.