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Are you quite ready for spring to get here?  Not that I’m complaining about winter!  One of the things that I have really enjoyed since moving to Tulsa five years ago is that there is a much more well-defined season of cold weather than we experienced during our previous twelve years of living in the Dallas area.  250 miles further north does make a noticeable difference in average low temperatures, the duration of cold snaps, and the amount of snowfall each winter.  As some of you know, I much prefer to grill out in cold weather as opposed to standing over burning charcoal when the outside air temperature is already 105° F.  Whose idea was that?

But, enough is enough, right?  While spring does not officially begin until March 20, the transition back to Daylight Saving Time this Sunday and the local forecast for daytime temps in the low 70s on Monday and Tuesday have me itching for consistently warmer weather.  There are signs that it is on its way.  Daffodils have had their heads poked up out of the ground for a while now.  They looked as if they were having serious second thoughts last week when they were up to their necks in sleet and snow, but I have a feeling that the next couple of weeks are going to see them rocketing up out of the ground.  Ditto for the hyacinth in the landscaping behind our house.  I noticed some greening of the grass (slight, but still significant) when I took a bag of trash out to the wheelie bin this morning.  The same was true for the patch of grass outside my office window, and close inspection of the rose bushes in front of the main church office evidenced similar signs of new life.  Bring it on!

For those of us who are fortunate enough to live in a temperate zone and to experience the blessing of seasonal variety, spring always follows winter.  Winter’s long nights are succeeded by extended hours of daylight in the summer.  Warmth follows cold.  God gave His word that it would always be this way until the end of time (Genesis 9:22).

This promise of God not only relates to the changing of the earth’s seasons, but also serves as a powerful metaphor for the sustaining hope that can help us endure our spiritual “winters,” the seasons of emotional darkness that periodically shroud our hearts and minds, and the “long nights” of physical pain inflicted by chronic illness and disease.  It’s real, and it hurts and disappoints, but it’s not forever!

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us,”  (Romans 8:18).

“For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,” (II Corinthians 4:17).

“Weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning,” (Psalms 30:5).

Whatever kind of “long winter’s night” you are experiencing right now, keep trusting and holding on to your faith in Jesus Christ “until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts,” (II Peter 1:19)!

“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.

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