Shameless confession, I've never watched not one episode of Game of Thrones. Even so, with each new season, the show becomes a hot button topic. And when everyone and their grammy are tweeting, I scroll by with my face fixed in a 'roll-eye emoji' position. Still, one line has stuck with me, and I'd never explored its meaning until now.
Even if you're not a die-hard GOT fan, you've probably heard the phrase "Winter is Coming." It is the watchword of the House Stark, which is one of the great houses of Westeros—or so I've read. A mantra of sorts aimed to remind the house not to think of life as a beach where you sip bottomless Mai Tai's while being kissed by the sun but to be constantly vigilant. Winter—for many, is synonymous with Christmas. And though we sing about it being the most 'wonderful' time of the year, winter tends to signify something quite different from jolly old St. Nick and his reindeer posse.
There's a Change in the Weather
In The Bahamas, we are accustomed to a warmer climate year-round. But sugar-pie, the first whiff of lower temperatures, signals' apple bottom jeans and boots with the furs' season. It's as if we'd been waiting for eleven-teen months to pull out every piece of winter regalia we own. Although we get excited about finally wearing our woolly fashion, many of my kinfolks can't stand cold weather. Many of us won't venture to places when the temperature drops below 60°F. All the same, people, in general, don't get excited about hard times. I don't know about you, but I've not witnessed anyone who basks in the glow of misfortune. I'm like most people who want to revel in the hot-girl-summer as long as possible.
Winter, though, is the coldest season occurring after autumn but before spring. This change in season happens because the axis of the earth is tilted away from the Sun. Winter brings with it cooler weather and, depending on your location on the planet, snow and frost. The trees are typically bare in such places, but the shorter amount of daylight can be considered both the blessing and curse of the season.
Evidently, cold weather is good for the world around us. Many plants require short days and low temperatures to become dormant. During this time, they store up the energy needed for new growth. A fruit tree that does not have this 'cooling-off period’—will have fewer and weaker buds. Man, that could preach. If I was in church, I'd tell you, "Touch your neighbour and say, "Your life needs winter!" Layman's terms, you needed to experience those dry spells because they strengthen you.
Cool, crisp air is not only beneficial for plants but for people as well. Studies show that people can think clearer in cooler temperatures. We also sleep better in the winter because it's easier for our body's core temperature to cool down. What usually takes your body two-hours to do in summer happens at a fraction of the time during winter. But perhaps the most exciting fact, to me, about this period, is that it has to be winter in one place for it to be summer somewhere else. Whew, child, another good preach word right there. In other words, I'm broken during your summer, so I'd be healed in time to help you recover in your winter. Now, "Let that sizzle in ya' spirit!" as Country Wayne would say.
Hibernate - Winter is here!
I think it's safe to say 2020 can be likened to 10-months of a bitter-winter. At first, when the leaves fell off, autumn looked real pretty; working from home in our jammies was it. Unfortunately, we had no idea just how gruelling this winter would be—everyone home, all day, every day. Child please, many people were in a constant state of needing a valium. Before long, everything was shut down, and life as we knew it had drastically changed. No school, no summer vacation, no travel, no dates, no birthday turn-ups! Limited jobs, no new movies, even church, was restricted to the confines of our homes. It was as if Westeros was no longer fictional, but the story itself came to life. I felt like they'd been warning us all along to be ready for anything that could happen—but all we were was entertained. Little that we knew, 'Winter is coming,' turned into 'Winter is Here."
It was as if the entire world was forced into hibernation. For a long time, I thought hibernation was when certain animals went to sleep for a season. But Nat Geo taught me it's quite the opposite. When animals hibernate, it's a period where their heart rate slows down, most of their physiological functions decelerate or are entirely halted. They preserve energy to survive the winter because they are not eating much. It would appear they are asleep, but they are not. In layman's terms, hibernation is energy conservation. In churchdom, we'd say, 'His strength is made perfect in our weakness' ( 2 Corinthians 12:9).
Maybe some animals have the right idea. The world was forced to slow down the pace. We suddenly had time and energy to do things that we couldn't do because of busyness. We finally could pay attention to the things happening right in our homes. All of a sudden hidden talents and gifts were unleashed. Issues we kept swept under the rug were drawn to the surface. In essence, we had to light the fire to stay warm, and we know that fire can do one of two things. It can either purify, or it can destroy.
Hibernation—I mean lockdown, quarantine or however you refer to it, made many of us aware of what we didn't have. Still, it also showed us just how much we didn't need. Take, for instance, the ants; while they don't hibernate in the conventional sense, the Bible makes reference to their life's ethic. Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise! Though they have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work, they labour hard all summer, gathering food for the winter. (Proverbs 6:6-8 NLT).
This made me wonder, what have I been doing with all my previous summers? If this pandemic has not made you restrategize your life, I don't know what will. If this pandemic taught nothing else, forget saving for a rainy day, we now need to store up for winter. Why? Because 'it' will come.
Fly South for the Winter
I have always wondered, "How do birds know that it is time to fly south?" They know because birds have an innate response to the reduction in daylight hours, signalling to them that winter is approaching and they should get moving. Firstly, to escape the cold and then to go where they can be fed. How do we know it's time to move? We like to say one mind or intuition, but the still small voice that tells you something is off is the Holy Spirit. His first signal to you is often frustration.
Of course, for you and me, flying south is more metaphorical than literal. I know you may be thinking there are no indicators in your life to make a move. I promise you there are if you pay attention. For me, the indicator was usually a relationship, no longer making sense. Let me just say, the relationship factor isn't always a romantic one. I had to walk away from some friendships too. I had to sever ties with places of employment, and in some instances, some kinfolk had to go as well. Believe me, as many people have learned this year, you don't want to be stuck in winter conditions with just any ole' body.
Flying south may mean you need to change your circle. You may need to switch your location. But even in a different place and space, as Tyrion warned, "Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armour, and it can never be used to hurt you." Moving doesn't automatically solve your problem; it highlights if you were the issue. No matter how far south you fly, you can't escape, you. The thing about a personal winter is it follows you.
'Winter is Coming' was said in the very first episode of GOT, and while it didn't really begin until Season-6, the fact remains it happened. What am I saying? Sometimes summer lasts a long time, and you are lulled into a false sense of indefinite security. But who would have thunk that 10 months later, this pandemic would still be looming the world over? I'm convinced now, more than I have ever been, that there is truly nothing new under the sun. The Spanish flu pandemic lasted for two years, with its effects going into the third year. Today, I assure you my message is not one of doom and gloom but one that seeks to remind you to remain vigilant and adjust the plan.
Like GOT, the Bible, which has been around much longer, has been reminding us of the same: Be well balanced and always alert, because your enemy, the devil, roams around incessantly, like a roaring lion looking for its prey to devour. Take a decisive stand against him and resist his every attack with strong, vigorous faith. For you know that your believing brothers and sisters around the world are experiencing the same kinds of troubles you endure. And then, after your brief suffering, the God of all loving grace, who has called you to share in his eternal glory in Christ, will personally and powerfully restore you and make you stronger than ever. Yes, he will set you firmly in place and build you up. (1 Peter 5:8-10 TPT)
If I've witnessed nothing else, I've realized that a whole lot of folk don't take notice if it's summer or winter once they are happy. Better yet, once there is meat in their storehouse. However, if we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant. If we did not sometimes taste adversity, prosperity would not be so welcomed—Anne Bradstreet. In this pandemic, we have not all been affected the same. Some folks flourished while others suffered. I'll tell you this, there is only one way to winter-proof your life, and His name is Jesus. However, having insurance doesn't mean you won't get hit; it just means you'll have help rebuilding. Don't be fooled by what you see during summer; rest assured if you live long enough, 'Winter is coming.'