Dormant ….. Or Dead?


Steve Nauman

It seems like many people say fall is their favorite season of the year! I am not part of that group. I am all about SPRING! (In case anyone was wondering, as of today, it is only 126 days until spring!)

Part of the reason I don’t like fall is, I don’t enjoy the darkness and short days that continue right on through winter. Oh, I certainly enjoy the colors of fall….. but the beauty always seems to fade away so quickly. And yet, after those beautiful leaves fall to the ground and I gather them up, they serve another purpose….. they add beneficial nutrients to my compost pile! But then the once beautiful trees and bushes are left looking barren and ….. well ….. they look dead!

But….. I have learned they are not dead, they are entering a necessary dormant season that allows them to survive the harsh winter months. In fact, to me it’s kind of amazing, because the tree or bush that we see is virtually “hibernating“ with very little life in it. Yet below the ground, the root structure of many species can become very busy at this time, preparing for the growth spurt of spring. And all the while, none of us can see anything happening in the dormant tree. I now know that if it were not for the fall and winter dormant seasons for those trees….. my beautiful springtime might not be so beautiful!

As I’ve read and explored more about plant life over the years, I’m sure there are some lessons that can easily crossover to areas of our lives as well. In late summer when the growth of the tree stops and eventually the leaves fall, the growth shifts to the roots-where preparation begins for the next growth spurt, or spring as we call it!

As fall turns to winter, the roots will start growing and sending out new “feeder” roots-even though we may be experiencing a snowstorm with record cold temperatures up here! (You probably have at some point, but if you never have, go look at a branch of a fruit tree or a Maple tree that has shed it’s leaves, and you’ll now see next spring’s buds already there-tightly wraped, just patiently waiting for spring.) Those trees that are going into their dormant season are very much alive, and would not produce what God designed them to produce….. without the dormant season.

I no longer dread “dormant seasons”. Oh, I still enjoy spring more than any other season….. I suppose that will never change for me. But I realize fall and winter are necessary to keep the cycle that God created going-as He created it!

Physically, emotionally and spiritually we all grow at different rates, and to some degree we can experience seasons of growth and dormant seasons in areas of our own lives as well. I know I have….. For me, the ’dormant season’ could usually be represented by various trials, because it was usually during those times when I felt as though I was unable to display any or at least much ‘growth’ outwardly. But inwardly….. well, when I had healed and moved beyond the trials, I started discovering the depth of the ‘spiritual roots’ that had grown…… during the time I thought I was ‘dormant’.

In my personal life, the ‘dormant seasons‘ even though they were extremely long, resulted in changes that surprised even me when my “springtime“ came!

One of the things I did to help heal from the grief of losing my wife was to journal my thoughts and feelings everyday for a year. That was the first time in my life I’d ever written anything-and I was basically writing that to myself! But…..I also started reading the Book of Psalms…..through the eyes of grief. Prior to that, I had thought of Psalms mainly as a “book about songs”. Needless to say….. I had my eyes opened….. and a lot of activity started in my “unseen spiritual feeder roots”-even unknown to me as it was happening.

This next part is why God’s Word is so important, as I was in severe grief, journaling and reading the Book of Psalms, I soon felt like much of what David had written was what he had journaled in his grief! I recognized the style and the pain….. I knew that many-perhaps millions had been where I had been-but here were the journaled words of David, included in God’s Word to bring comfort like no visit, card or phone call ever could. David’s terrible times of pain and sorrow that he wrote about-and much of it written from a heart that felt for sure it was in a ‘dormant‘ season, were jumping off the pages, helping to usher in “springtime“ as it ministered to my heart and soul!

Just one example is Psalm 34:19
”The Lord is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (NASB)

One final thought about trees, it eventually becomes easy to tell if a tree is growing….. dormant….. or dead. Just about everyone has seen a dead tree with bark falling off and broken limbs everywhere.

But….. when we talk about our Christian lives and a personal relationship with Christ….. No one can look at you and know for sure if you are a growing Christian…… a dormant Christian….. or…………………….?

Only you and The Lord know.

Till Next Time……

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Steve Nauman

These wonderful posts are written by my good friend Steve Nauman. He lives on a farm in northern Indiana with his wife, Ruth.

He owned and operated a machine shop until 2020. These stories come from the people and experiences that made lasting impressions upon him as he grew up in his father's general store in Upstate NY and later in his own business.