Have you braved the outdoors lately?
It was mid-July, the deepest, darkest part of winter – the time of year when sensible people stay tucked up inside by the fire. Yet one unusually warm day the sun streamed through my window and beckoned me outside.
The moment I opened the door, the lilting warble of magpies filled my ears. I smiled and breathed deeply, inhaling the sweet fragrance of wattle blooms. I wandered around the yard, pausing in one place to watch the birds flirt and swoop, bending over in another to study the silent garden beds. Clusters of pale green spikes gave promise of daffodils and bluebells yet to come. Tiny pink buds formed little bumps along the stems of formerly naked trees.
All around me were signs of new life.
July is the coldest winter month, the one we often view as something to endure on our way to warmer weather. We bustle through the mall with hunched shoulders and pinched faces, darting from one toasty shop to the next, barely stopping to greet familiar friends in our hurry to get out of the cold. We battle coughs and colds and long for the carefree vitality we associate with summer. Yet in the midst of the chills and discomforts of our frigid days God gently whispers to us through His creation, “Winter will not last forever.
Spring is coming.”
Our family has had some difficult ‘winters’ in the last couple of years – long bouts of whooping cough, a sudden brush with death and slow recovery, cancer diagnosis for a precious grandpa followed by his rapid decline and passing.
The winters of our lives can feel terribly harsh. Unbearable. Like stark trees in the garden, we feel stripped back to bare bones. Completely void of life. We drag ourselves through each day, weighed down by the heaviness of the struggle, often convinced that it will never end.
Yet it will.
Winter, no matter how harsh, does not last forever. Spring will come. The darkness and heartache will pass and, while some things in our lives may have permanently changed, we will experience beauty and joy again.
Spring will surely come.
But here’s an important thought to ponder: The health and splendour of our spring plants is dependent on how well-rooted they were through the winter months. It’s in winter, when everything appears lifeless, that the plant is preparing for spring, drawing deeply from nourishment in the soil and forming its next season’s shoots.
We may not see much happening on the outside but there is a whole lot going on under the surface.
So it is with us. We can choose in our wintertime to put our roots down deep and draw from the living source. Or we can battle it out alone and just barely survive to emerge in the spring.
I’m reminded of a favourite passage in Jeremiah 17:7-8.
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
Whose confidence is in Him.
He will be like a tree planted by the water
That sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
Its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
And never fails to bear fruit.”
I want to live a life that, like spring blooms, can bring joy and beauty to others. How about you?
For that to happen, we need to stay connected with our Maker, through every season.
Only then can we be a channel of His life and hope.