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“The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains,” (James 5:7).

I am only a “raised garden bed” kind of farmer, but patience was in short supply over the last few weeks as I have fretfully looked for signs of life in our potato bed.  I had dutifully planted the potatoes in mid-February, well within the parameters of the planting guidelines recommended for Zone 7, which is the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone in which I live.  Mock me if you will for knowing that, but I’m serious about wanting to eat some homegrown Yukon Gold potatoes again this summer.

Six weeks had passed since planting them on February 16, with no emergence of the potato plants.  Had I planted them too early?  Was it still just too cold?  Was it lack of moisture?  Did I inadvertently plant them at an improper depth?  Had the neighborhood cats dug them up as they have repeatedly scratched around in what they have apparently mistaken for an 8 ft. x 4 ft. litter box?

Relief from my anxiety came last weekend.  Rain arrived in the Tulsa area on Friday evening.  After an exceptionally dry winter and with an ongoing drought in the region, it was wonderful to experience the sights and sounds of a good thunderstorm again: bright flashes of lightning, house-rattling claps of thunder, the clinking of tiny hailstones ricocheting off the windows, and the roar of heavy rain on the roof.

After another steady shower on Saturday morning, the clouds dispersed, a blue sky appeared, and the brilliant afternoon sun warmed the air well into the 70s.  That’s when I noticed that several of the potato plants had breached the earth above them, just barely exposing the tops of their little noggins.  God’s foolproof equation of seed, soil, water, light, and warmth had triumphed again.  Other plants around the lawn symbiotically joined in this Divinely choreographed renewal of life.  The iris blades, evidencing a deeper green, stood more erect and appeared to be several inches taller.  The dwarf Japanese maple sported tiny, but uniform, new growth that wasn’t there the day before; the weeping mulberry followed suit on Sunday morning.

Doubts were removed; faith was restored; hope was renewed.

What a perfect weekend for Easter Sunday!

Just as God’s unfailing promise of “seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter” (Genesis 8:22) brings “life from death” each Spring, so the resurrection of Jesus Christ guarantees for us that “death isn’t terminal.”  “I am the resurrection and the life,” Jesus said.  “He who believes in Me will live even if he dies,” (John 11:25).

I Corinthians 15 declares the centrality and essentiality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ to the Christian faith; everything stands or falls with the empty tomb.  The apostle Paul even used a “seed” analogy in his systematic case for our resurrection.

But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised?  With what kind of body will they come?”  How foolish!  What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.  When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else.  But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body…  So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable;  it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. (I Cor. 15:35-38, 42-44)

As surely as Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, so we will be!

“Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.” (James 5:7-8)

Doubts are removed; faith is restored; hope is renewed.

Our Creator apparently pre-programmed something into our human nature that causes us to take notice of and place emphasis on significant anniversaries.  When the calendar rolls back around to the exact date on which something special or extraordinary happened, we pause to remember, sometimes joyfully reliving pleasant memories, and at other times sadly reflecting upon painful ones.  Birthdays, wedding anniversaries, dates on which loved ones passed on from this life, July 4, December 7, etc., typically evoke emotions and commemorations in our culture. 

I wonder how the apostles and other early disciples felt as the first Passover approached in the year following Jesus’ crucifixion, burial, resurrection, and ascension.  They had to have terribly missed the Lord’s physical presence among them.  But, exciting things were happening. The Holy Spirit had come with great power and enabling, the Gospel of Jesus Christ was being boldly proclaimed despite threats and punishment, and the Jerusalem church continued to experience explosive, exponential growth.

Yet, they had to have remembered what transpired a year earlier.  Yes, they continued to observe a weekly feast of bread and wine in memory of the Savior’s sacrificed body and His atoning, life-giving blood.  And, no, Jesus had not left them instructions about any annual observances as had been the case under the covenant with Israel given at Sinai. 

Still, it would have been natural for those who had walked with Him to have recalled the previous year’s jubilant entry into Jerusalem, the teaching and healing in the Temple, the upper room, Gethsemane, the shock of Ju-das’ treacherous betrayal, the arrest, the Sanhedrin, Pilate, Herod, the scourging, the mockery and abuse, the agonizing walk to Golgotha, the darkness, the earthquake, the burial, that somber Sabbath, the empty tomb, and the living, breathing Jesus once again standing in their midst.

“Could that really have been a year ago?” they may have wondered.

Almost 2,000 years later, we still remember.  We still stand amazed.  We still thank God for His indescribable gift.  We still rejoice over the empty tomb and offer praise for the risen Savior.  We still anxiously await His return.

Christ is risen; He is risen indeed!

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December 2022