Those living here in the upper midwest can identify with extended seasons— today is April 20 and it snowed a couple days ago. Many here want it to warm up because it has been cold long enough. I’m a four season guy with fall being my favorite season. Living where it’s hot year round sounds horrible to me. People visit us here in South Dakota and comment on the nasty weather and I tell them it’ll change tomorrow because it always does. I like short seasons and get discouraged in extended seasons.
An extended season is a period of time that extends beyond the point in which you thought it should end. Surely you can relate to things taking longer than anticipated. Surely you can relate to thinking you’d be further along than you are right now.
Psalm 40:17 says “O my God, do not delay.” This is one of the great cries of the Bible… How long O Lord? How long? On occasion I joke how God is never late but that he sure misses a million opportunities to be early. Frankly I wonder sometimes if God isn’t waiting on us more often than we are waiting on him. When we look back, as the saying goes, time seems to fly. However when we are in the moment, the dog days seem to drag on. This post is about doing the dog days well.
The phrase “dog days” actually goes back to the Graeco-Roman period. Plato used the Latin term diēs caniculārēs or dog days. The ancients noticed the hot weather and associated it with the star Sirius (prominent in July and August). The Sirius star, dog star, is the basis for the Canis Major Constellation (Large Dog). The Romans sacrificed a dog to appease the rage of Sirius. Wikipedia tells us the dog daies were “believed to be a time when the seas boiled, wine turned sour, dogs grew mad and all creatures became languid, causing man burning fevers, hysterics and phrensies.”
Today we know that when winter drags on, or summer seems forever, there aren’t gods to appease. However there is much that God is developing in us during these extended seasons which are common both to the spiritual life of an individual and church community.
Extended seasons can be brutal on us as we wrestle through 1) discontentment, 2) unmet expectations, 3) impatience, 4) a sick heart from deferred hope, 5) doubts about ourselves, doubts about God and his Promises, 6) apathy and 7) faith that wanes. Extended seasons are times when 8 ) negativity and criticism creep in and we more easily turn on one another.
James 1:3-4 says “Perseverance must finish it’s work so that you may be mature and complete not lacking anything.” As much as we might wish an extended season would end, it is important that what God is doing in us is completed. Galatians 6:9 says “Don’t weary in well doing for we will reap a harvest in due season if we do not give up.” We can forfeit all God has for us when we don’t stay the course. In Matthew 25:5, the Bridegroom was a long time coming and those waiting became drowsy and fell asleep. Extended seasons are times when all can be lost.
The Bible really offers no insight into how to fast forward through a season that drags on and on. However, there is much in the Word of God on how to persevere through extended seasons. Here are a few thoughts…
Seasons are pregnant, don’t abort them. When we study times and seasons in the Word of God we find ourselves sorting through chronos and kairos time. Chronos is time measured by a clock or calendar. Kairos times are those seasons when God breaks in. When I say “seasons are pregnant” I’m referring to how the Bible speaks of “the fullness of time.” An extended season is a gestation period for what God is producing in us. An extended season is actually a mercy as God gives us additional moments to come into maturity.
Romans 5:3-5 says “Perseverance produces character, character produces hope.” The point is that these times produce something– something is coming forth from these times making it worthwhile to persevere. There is character development needed before we move into the next season. It’s too late to lay a foundation after the building is built. There is no turning the clock back later making now the time to develop godly character.
Boycotting winter is an exercise in futility as it changes nothing. In an extended season, stay out of futility. Futility is something that is incapable of producing a result. The Bible talks about the “futility of their years” and “futile thinking” (Ephesians 4:17). Extended seasons can be productive seasons if our focus is right.