This past holiday weekend was enjoyed outside because the weather was absolutely perfect in these parts. I kept waiting for the rainstorm, though. The turn to colder temperatures. Something that would ruin the joy of being in the warm surroundings. Who can blame me for thinking such things? I mean, I live in an area whose weather suffers great confusion from day to day. Not only that, but we achieved "Number 1 worst winter city" this past season! There is good reason to fear the beautiful warm temperatures are merely an illusion. Because of the loooooong and frigid winter, though, I have a very different perspective of this year's spring. Yes, part of me just can't believe things are green and alive after being buried in the white stuff, but what I really notice this year is how appreciative I am of the new life after such a hard season. Some shrubs and trees are dead or puny and that is a real loss to our beautiful landscapes, but most are vibrant and thriving. It seems unbelievable to me that anything could have survived the minus 40 degree temperatures, but they did! And, it just seems surreal now to see the lush green grass, the ample trees and the scrambling vines.
While I was enjoying the new life in my gardens this past weekend, I was struck by a few things.
In the midst of our winter season, I kept imagining the blooms of spring. This is how hope works. When you are struggling in a trial or feel overwhelmed with all sorts of emotions, re-align your viewpoint.
Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. Colossians 3:2
Each time we look inward or at the problem at hand we are guaranteed a sense of fear. Setting our minds on things that are eternal, on Christ Himself, will help us to trust the One who not only sees the bigger picture, but is in charge of every minute detail.
It can be difficult to pry our eyes off of our present situation, though. But, the Truth of God's Word is helpful with this. As we open the Bible and read God's promises and the truths within, our struggles and our viewpoints start to become replaced with hope. Seeking others' godly wisdom is a real encouragement as well. Their objective outlook can help us look eternally with purpose instead of dwelling on our present losses.
Instead of fearing that all of the green beauty around me is just an illusion, I needed to come to grips with reality. This is truth for the beauty God has done in me as well. Regardless of the weeds in our past, the blustery storms we've endured, the depths of sin we've accumulated...He makes us new. It can be tempting to think our new creations won't last or something will take this from us, but the Truth is this:
If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5: 17
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5: 21
And I give them eternal life and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand. John 10: 28-29
Unlike my gardens, which will see death again when this season fades away, those who are in Christ will never taste death because of His victory over the grave. Spiritually, we are saved from the wrath of God and we are alive forevermore! When old memories of past sins creep in, remember the facts of Jesus' work on the Cross. When we are tempted to think 'this is all too good' or something will take it away from us, preach the gospel of Christ to yourself.
As we believe that we are forgiven and have received new life through Christ's death and resurrection, we will walk worthy of the calling we've been given. We will be earnest to put off the old man and put on the new man (see Colossians 3). And, we will glorify our Father in heaven as we flourish in this new life.