The Slow, Healing Work of Winter

by Jennifer Dukes Lee February 10, 2022
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven …” Ecclesiastes 3:1 (ESV)
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As I was growing up in a rural community, my first job was “rock picker.”

The work was about as glamorous as it sounds.

A farmer would round up a bunch of kids to come to his farm and “pick rock.” It was a funny phrase, now that I think of it, because we didn’t pick just one rock. There were hundreds.

We’d sit on a flatbed trailer behind a tractor, and he’d drive straight into the field, pulling us behind as we jostled with every bump.

If we saw a rock, we hopped off, ran to grab it and hollered “Rock!” before tossing it onto the trailer. The shout was a warning so the others would jump off to avoid being clobbered in the head. (Clearly, we had high workplace safety standards.) Our team of rock pickers covered miles a day.

The next year, we’d return, picking rock in the same fields because new stones always emerged. Any farmer will tell you that rocks are a nuisance, but they simply must be dealt with. If they are left in the fields, stones can harm farming equipment.

You may wonder how rocks keep emerging. There isn’t some “rock fairy” dropping stones onto fields to annoy farmers. Instead, stones are heaved forth in the frost/thaw cycle of the earth.

My husband, a farmer, says this is winter’s way of “healing the land.” Isn’t that a beautiful way of thinking about it? 

The land can’t heal without winter.

I think the same is true of us. We all need winter seasons to heal us — and to unearth rock-like burdens embedded in the soil of our hearts.

Where I live, most people want to avoid the cold dreariness of winter. We prefer the hopefulness of spring, warmth of summer and vibrance of autumn.

In the same way, most people want to avoid winter seasons of life. I’ve never heard someone say, “I am so excited for a winter season in my soul!” We’d prefer continuously moving through spring, summer and fall — enjoying the growth and joy those seasons bring.

Yet the wise Solomon tells us that the human experience unfolds over all seasons — not only our favorite ones. “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven …” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

In Ecclesiastes 3, he writes that life is a passage through various times: a time to be born and to die, to weep and to laugh, to keep silent and to speak. Not all of those verses are the kind you would cross-stitch onto a pillow. Yet there’s little doubt we will go through all seasons — including winter.

Perhaps that is a good thing. If a field needs winter to heal, people do, too. Winter seasons compel us to slow down, reflect and give God room to “pick rock” in our hearts.

We all have rocks — the unseen burdens we haul around in our hearts like unwanted baggage. My stones are heavy:

Hurtful words spoken over me when I was a child.
The secret fear that I’m not lovable.
Worries about my children, which keep me awake at night.
My sins.
New, bad habits I pick up over time.

I am good at keeping old stones buried by putting the hand to the plow so I don’t have to deal with them. But hidden stones still cut our insides. What stones are wounding your soul?

Just as winter heals the land, Jesus wants to heal us. Will we let Him?

Think of your heart as a field. If Jesus were standing with you on the edge of that field, I imagine He would leave no stone unturned. Like Solomon wrote, “for everything there is a season” (Ecclesiastes 3:1), including seasons for gathering stones: “a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together …” (Ecclesiastes 3:5, ESV).

What a beautiful image — Jesus gathering stones to make your heart-field new again. There is no rock too big for Jesus. He specializes in rolling stones away, including the one in front of His own tomb.

Slow down, my friend. Allow winter to do its work. Jesus has come to “pick rock.”

Dear God, part of me resists the slow, healing work of winter. But I know that there are rocks in the field of my heart, and You are the One who can roll them away. Please come “pick rock” in my heart right now, showing me the hard places I may not even be aware of, and till the soil so that You can grow something new and beautiful in me. Thank You that You are with me for every step of my healing. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


To gain fresh insights on how to slow down and heal, pick up a copy of Jennifer Dukes Lee’s latest book — Growing Slow — and the companion Bible study.


Jennifer Dukes Lee is the featured author in the next Direct Access: A Writers’ Book Club hosted by COMPEL Writers Training! If you are an aspiring author and want to learn everything from book proposal preparation and editing to successfully publishing and marketing your message, join this study, which begins February 21, and learn directly from Jennifer and her editing team! Click here for more info.


Psalm 74:17, “You have fixed all the boundaries of the earth; you have made summer and winter.” (ESV)

Fields need winter seasons to heal and rest. People do, too. Name a time in your life when winter dormancy helped you grow as a person.

God desires to “pick rock” in your heart. What rock would you most like Him to carry away? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!

© 2022 by Jennifer Dukes Lee. All rights reserved.

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