"Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." - 1 Peter 5:8 (NIV)
Middle Tennessee really only has two seasons: winter and summer. (Spring and Fall are really just variations of the previously mentioned seasons.) The temperatures bounce back and forth between cold and hot during the months of March, April and May, then they finally settle into the sticky hot weather of summer. And the reverse is true in the fall months until about mid-November, when the temps will become more wintry.
Nevertheless, Spring is gorgeous in middle Tennessee! We have some beautiful flowers like daffodils and tulips that begin to show their smiling faces in early March. Dogwood and Red bud trees bud. Roses, azaleas, and other flowers are in all their glory. And much to my husband's chagrine, the grass also grows.
Around the end of March, the weather will start to warm up again. And it will continue to get warmer through the early part of April. Therein lies the problem. Most of the new people around here will be lulled into a false sense of security by all of the beauty and the warm weather that seems to sneak in and stay for only a few weeks. After all, wherever they came from probably had four real seasons, so they form the false belief that it's here to stay. They will put away their winter clothes or plant delicate perennials, only to be quickly fooled by the changes of temperature and late frosts. It's a really cheap shot to the human psyche from nature... and those who are unsuspecting find out the hard way that it really isn't summer just yet.
We actually have names for the last two of these changes in temperature in the Spring time: "Dogwood winter" and "Blackberry winter." These shadows of winter signify the last of the cold snaps of the season and usually happen around the middle of April and end in early May. They are so-named because the dogwood trees and blackberries bloom when these last little cold snaps come. Usually, the skies are grey like winter, and the wind is colder than it has been in previous weeks. Sometimes it's rainy. Other times, it's just cold. Whatever the case, it is tom-foolery for the unsuspecting!
Have you ever gone through a spiritual "blackberry winter"? I most certainly have! And if you've been a believer for any length of time, I am betting you have, too! Whether it's a fall into temptation, complacency or God just has you in a dark spot for a brief time for a period of testing, blackberry winters come to us all.
Don't be fooled by spiritual blackberry winters! If there's anything I have learned after becoming a Christ-follower, it's this: Satan is the chief of liars! He wants nothing more than to lull us into believing all is well... or that we can get away with one little thing... And then all of the sudden, we find ourselves drowning in the middle of a sea of misery, guilt and shame. I Peter 5:8 in the Message says this: "Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce and would like nothing better than to catch you napping."
The good thing about the blackberry winter is that it doesn't last long. The reward is that the berries bloom, and soon after there will be sweet, juicy fruit! The sun will be back, shining and the days will be warm and summer upon us for good.
For the believer going through the spiritual blackberry winter, remember that above all, God does love you. He will be there with you through the duration of this period of whatever it is you are going through. God has promised the crown of life to those who will persevere under trials. (James 1:12) If you fall for one of Satan's lies, forgiveness can be a beautiful thing, especially when you go to God with a broken heart and a contrite spirit (Psalms 51:7). Whatever the case, the spiritual fruits that will follow these seasons of trials will be sweet.