Thursday, March 27, 2014

Winter Storms, Spring Sun

     In the mountains, winter never leaves without a fight.  We have had some beautiful sunny days, with lovely cumulus clouds and warm breezes.  We sigh in relief and say, "Spring is finally here."  The hills have the green tint of grass and an occasional flower has poked up its little face to the sun.  Yet, today, BOOM!  Snow and wind and rain and more snow.  Winter has adamantly reasserted itself.  The clouds are veiled in shimmering dove grays and white and the snow line has dropped down as if December is back.
    I look anxiously at the primroses I planted in pots last week, hoping the very cold temperatures do not doom them to an early demise.  The bulbs I planted last spring are just poking up their thin green stalks, and I worry that winter may slap them silly and they won't make it.
    Yet, God's creation tells of His character: 
The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
    no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world (Psalm 19)

    God's creation speaks of Who He is, and how much He is involved with His world.  So, what is this season saying to us of His character?

     The cold may test us, but the sun always breaks through:  Yes, the snow and rain is unpleasant, especially if you have already felt the warmth of the sun, but the sun will eventually stay.  Time captures us and we chafe under its yoke, wanting winter to pass quickly and spring to stay.  It's easy to believe in Him when the sun is shining warmly on your face.  Yet, look at His creation:  the plants start to come up from their winter sleep because just enough sun has warmed the soil.  They rise in expectation of warmer days to come.  They rise because God keeps His promises:  the sun will break through, and the cold grip of winter will loosen.  Spring is a promise He keeps year after year.
     If you are in the winter of your life, He keeps His promises to stand by you in the storm, and to part the clouds.  The Son will break through and will rewarm your spirit.  Winter does pass:  

"See! The winter is past;
    the rains are over and gone.
12 Flowers appear on the earth;
    the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
    is heard in our land" (Song of Solomon).

     Hard, cold and blustery rain is necessary for growth.  I just visited some friends in Nevada where the rainfall is so minimal that even though a lot of soil is present, very little in the way of plant life is evident.  I saw hardly any green because the Washoe Basin is in the "rain shadow" of the Sierras.  Rain does fall--the huge amount of snow in the Sierras attests to that--but the storms cannot surmount the high summits of the peaks and the rain stays on the California side of the mountains, and barely makes it over to the Nevada side.   So, while I look outside my window at the blustery day we are having, with its cold wind and snowy rain, it is this very water that will supply the soil with moisture that will bring forth wildflowers and grass.  Growth requires rain and warmth.
     It is never easy to stand in a storm.  But that same rain that falls on your face is also falling on your faith:  it will bring growth.  He reminds us:  "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deut. 31:6).

     Finally, keep singing.  The meadow larks are in full song right now.  The air is cold, the mountains are gray and the ground is cold and wet, and yet, listen...a meadow lark sings a praise chorus over the land.  The birds do not cease singing when the sun ceases shining.  If anything, the song adds a sweetness to the day.  The larks sing, knowing deep in their hearts that the sunny days are coming.  The goldfinches outside my window are a mottled yellow, gray and white, but they bounce around the feeders.  They know that their beauty is coming and in a few weeks, they will be golden jewels.  God put the song in their hearts for us to hear and be reminded of His work in us.  We may be mottled in plumage but we can still sing. 
     Watch and see what the Lord will do.   Meanwhile, here's what you can do:

"Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.
Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.
Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things" (Phil. 4).

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