It happens every winter; I look at our brown landscaping and think there’s no way possible that could become green again. The dried leaves, the bare branches, the crispy petals, how can this stuff recover? How can it be beautiful again? And will summer ever come?
I know this is odd and dumb, but I hate when people come to my house for the first time in the winter. I hate that their first experience of my neigborhood is colorless, barren, and dead. I want to tell them what my street looks like in July. What beautiful flowers my neighbor has, how much joy a fresh-cut lawn can bring, and that somehow there’s always the smell of someone grilling in the air. I want them to know that this place is beautiful and mine and good.
But winter strips that away. It leaves everything feeling cold and empty.
So now, as spring works its magic, as Chris starts up our lawn mower for the first time in months, as my dog chooses the sunny patch in the backyard over the back of the couch, I am in awe all over again that there’s color and flowers and fresh-cut grass.
It’s a good reminder of what God can do, what He promises us, what we can put our trust in.
But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds, declares the LORD…
Jeremiah 30:17 (NIV)
This winter was hard and long. In March, my neighbor took his own life. The morning after the chaos of that tragedy, after the ambulances and police had left, after the street had settled down, after all the neighbors were back in their houses, I just stood in my driveway and prayed. I don’t remember what I said, but I know it was desperate and ugly and painful. I wanted to be able to tell Kevin that spring was going to come and that there was going to be healing.
And literally, the next day, it was warm and sunny and beautiful outside. All I could think about as I drove home with my window down was how he missed it. How we were so close to the end of bleak days! I wish I could have told him to hang on. I wish I could have reminded him about spring. I wish I could have told him about being restored. And to not be overcome with the stress and pain of this world.
There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.
Matthew 6:26 (The Message)
I understand being restored. I get the pain of a miscarriage and finally feeling whole again. I’ve seen messy marriages come back from nothing to thrive. I’ve witnessed broken hearts that God has sewn back together, making them better than new. I understand addiction, its encompassing destruction, and then the God-breathed, God-honoring life that can come from it.
So it seems almost silly that in winter I forget these things. I forget what warm weather feels like, how cool the grass feels on summer nights, and what a day out in the sun does for your soul. I’m the worst student ever, forgetting the lessons that He continually gives me, again and again, that I promise to know forever…until the next winter. Spring comes, hope is eternal, and I need to stop worrying.
If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers–most of which are never seen–don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you?
Matthew 6:30 (The Message)
My front yard is really green again. Our bushes have exploded, almost to the point of needing a good trim already. The tree in our backyard is flowering and we’ve already picked up the weed-fight that happens every summer. Spring, in all its glory, is here again. And it brings life to my neighborhood, my yard, and my heart. Things will be different this summer; there will be no Kevin yelling at us from across the street or pool parties late into the night. His family hasn’t returned to the house since that cold March night and I expect it will be put up for sale soon. But the days keep going and things keep growing. And I pray there’s a little spring where his family is too. Because I serve a God that can restore and renew the most dire of circumstances. He is spring eternal.