“Teach me the happy art of attending to things temporal with a mind intent on things eternal.”*
We are on the cusp of spring. A little south of me, it has taken hold and is visible everywhere. Here, only a few trees are pushing out their spring seeds and flowers. Soon the tree silhouettes will turn lacey as tiny leaves cover the branches. Even in the tropics, there are seasons marked by growing plants and migrating birds. This is my favorite time of year because of His promise of what is coming.
I was thinking about this promise one day as I walked through the woodlands. Each day from about mid-February, I begin to search the brown and sleeping woods for the first sign of spring. Usually it is the purple violets that catch my eye. Finding one, I heave a sigh of relief and whisper goodbye to winter. In about a week, there are dozens of violets along the edges of my path. I still can’t resist taking photos of them even after they are abundant.
I walk in my garden daily looking for fresh growth on my English rose bushes, hydrangeas, and blooms on my hellebores. My favorites, however, are the snow-white petals of the bloodroot that snuggle cozily beneath my large Chindo viburnums. I bought one plant two years ago and this year it rewarded me with nine blossoms. I watch out my bedroom window for its slow appearance from the soil. A stalk of curled up leaves appears and then the next day a pure white bud. In the nature preserve, where bloodroot grows wild, they are highly ephemeral. If I don’t walk the exact week they bloom, I miss them until the following year.
I am reminded of the Song of Songs, where King Solomon proclaims his love to be like the refreshment of spring. “See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land.”** One of the first signs of spring is the singing of birds.
I am not alone in longing for spring, anticipating it and smiling when it appears. It is hope in a world that sometimes seems devoid of hope or clouded over with gray thoughts like winter. I think this is why the Lord made the seasons. He knows we need refreshment, and it is His intent to mark time for us in a faithful way. Each month I enjoy watching the moon’s phases, especially the tiny sliver when it’s new.
I believe marking the passing of winter into spring is one way the Lord promises eternity. We pass through seasons of life with hopefully one destination—heaven. Every season can make us more loving, fragrant, and faithful. But like the flowers need the rain and sunshine, so we need the Word of God to nourish us and the light of His countenance to keep us positive. We, too, start as a seed of life. Hopefully, we receive nurturing and grow to thrive and blossom, sending joy and kindness into the world. Each plant in my garden has one purpose: to bloom. And in blooming to shed fragrance, loveliness, beauty and an appreciation of the Creator. Is this not our job as well?
I remember going to a prayer meeting many years ago and when I walked into the room, people were already deep in prayer. The presence of the Lord was palpable. And so was a light, lovely fragrance that filled the room. It was not from flowers or any artificial means. It filled the room as they let the Holy Spirit move freely in that prayer meeting. I’ve never forgotten it.
The delicate scent of my David Austin English roses reminds me of the fragrance that filled that room. I can close my eyes and smell these roses. But I can remember the delicacy of the fragrance that was in that room as well. It reminds me of heaven. We are to bloom and grow here, filling the world with the goodness of the Lord. But one day, we will exude an eternal fragrance as we walk the streets of our heavenly home and enjoy the peace, loveliness, and safety of our eternal residence. “From eternity to eternity I am God. No one can snatch anyone out of my hand. No one can undo what I have done.” **
So as these days of spring unfold around you, do not miss the change, the hope, and the promise that the Lord gives every year at this time. Spring is coming. And so is Jesus.
“He made the moon to mark the seasons, and the sun knows when to go down.”
Psalm 104:19 NIV
* The Valley of Vision pg. 249
**Song of Songs 2:11-12 NIV
***Isaiah 43:13 NLT