One November, I received a very meaningful birthday gift from my sister-in-law Kristin, a trusted soul in my life. She had been walking closely with me during a very difficult winter of my soul that year. It had been a season of great disappointment for me, one that included some heartbreaking hardship in some relationships that were very dear to me. Kristin’s gift to me that day was a potted amaryllis bulb accompanied by a beautiful, life-changing letter which God used in a powerful way to help me see all that He had purposed, even in my pain. Her letter read, in part:
We have this common thread in our family—we’re drawn to the rich symbolism we find in the beauty of God-created things, like trees, vines and blooms. The way that a tree takes root, the way that a branch is nourished from the vine, the way beautiful things need necessary tending to bring forth more beauty.
We love the marking of seasons and how we can trust that God is working in ways we cannot see. We know that every season is named with purpose. A season of sowing brings forth a season of harvest, just as the harsh cold of winter brings a season of dying—a necessary bridge to new life. The winter is beautiful under its blanket of white but it is cold and harsh to the living thing determined to grow. Everyone knows that the season for blooming is in the warmth of spring. Its gentle breezes and warm sun send a message to a sleeping world that all things are becoming new.
It would take great courage to bloom in the bitterness of winter.
But there are the rare and beautiful treasures that choose to grow when the conditions are the darkest. In the bleakness of winter, the Amaryllis will spring up, pushing through the soil, displaying the beauty it was created to share.
Sure, it would be easier to wait until the comfort of spring. But the Amaryllis bulb knows it cannot wait. It does not bloom because the conditions are perfect, in fact, the conditions are counter-intuitive to new life. The Amaryllis blooms in winter, even still. It will not look to the world around it and depend on it for nurturing or care. It will instead, obey the world within it and become exactly what it was created to be. To bear the image of the beauty inside itself, set there by a Creator, not bound by time or season.
The letter went on to tell me that my family would be praying “amaryllis prayers” for me, asking that I, too, would have the courage to bloom in winter. I realized in that moment that I had allowed my frozen, fragile state to render me ineffective. To keep me hiding until warmer, brighter days unfolded. I was overwhelmed by the kindness of God and the kindness of His treasured people to help me remember that stunning beauty can rise from even the most devastating winters of our lives. Even a “winter” as brutal as the year 2020!
I waited with such anticipation for something, anything, to break through the soil of that ceramic pot. Finally, one day a tiny, green shoot pushed up. As I watched it grow taller and taller and gloriously bloom, I found myself pondering Jesus more than ever. He certainly didn’t arrive when conditions were perfect. In fact, He arrived in the midst of a silence and a winter that the world had never known—four hundred years of silence, without a word from God. “And when it seemed like we’d never see Spring, Heaven gave a King.” Yes, He arrived when the world least expected it, pushing through the hardness of “winter” on our behalf. His love broke through so that we, too, could have breakthrough.
Beloved, I wonder if even now, God is calling out to you to come awake and bloom! To take your place in all that God has prepared for you, and to lead others to awaken too! He has and always will be the life you long for. No matter how dark and bleak your current season may be, you, too, can bloom with the brilliance of summer—right in the middle of winter.
Christy Nockels is a worship leader and singer-songwriter with a passion for writing and speaking. Her podcast, The Glorious in the Mundane, inspires listeners to see both their big dreams and the seemingly small things in a whole different way. The Life You Long For (WaterBrook, Feb. 16, 2021) is Nockel’s debut book. Nockels has released three albums on the independent label Keeper’s Branch Records. Previously, she toured nationwide with her husband, Nathan, as the duo Watermark, recording seven #1 radio singles and five acclaimed albums. The two also have participated in Passion Conferences since their inception.
Adapted from The Life You Long For: Learning to Live from a Heart of Rest. Copyright © 2021 by Christy Nockels. Used by permission of Multnomah, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC. Amaryllis Prayer Letter by Kristin Hill.
About the book:
In The Life You Long For, Christy shows us how to let go of hustle and achievement and instead find our identity in the quiet center of God’s love. As we delight in being with Him, we are filled to overflowing with contentment and love that propel us into an entirely new way of being, one in which every act of service and every encounter with the people around us arise from a heart at rest.
With irresistible warmth and grace, this book calls you to step fully into the life you didn’t even realize you’ve been seeking, as you find your highest calling not in a duty to uphold but in a beautiful identity to live out.
For more information on Christy and her book, please visit www.christynockels.com