March 20, 2014, 12:57 P.M. EDT marked the first day of spring on the calendar this year. I don’t know about you, but my experience of spring didn’t change between Wednesday and Thursday. We casually pass the first day of spring while the forecast suggests erratic weather and frigid temperatures will persist.
Spring starts at a defined point in time based upon the position of the earth with respect to the sun.
Technically speaking, spring begins the day the sun’s rays hit the earth perpendicular to the equator. On this day the sun spends the same amount of time above the horizon as it does below the horizon at all points on earth. Or at least it begins on the day it would happen if the sun were a point of light rather than a disk and the earth’s atmosphere didn’t bend light rays… but that’s another story.
Spring may be defined by our position with respect to the sun, but the ongoing results of this change in position are revealed slowly.
As we continue to turn toward the sun, we see fresh glimpses of “spring” every day. I see purple and white crocus peeking up through the leaves we never raked last fall. Daffodils are starting to dance in the wind. Thin green spikes herald the coming of star flowers, iris, lilies, and tulips. Buds are beginning to bulge from thin, bare branches on our forsythia and dogwoods trees.
Spring is this time of transition between winter and summer, inaugurated by the vernal equinox. Even as we see leaves bursting from high branches, the forecast is erratic, some days frigid, others frightening as tornados and violent storms erupt.
Spring is a transition, but it is a season in its own right, and I savor the delicious beauty of spring.
Redemption is a bit like spring. Redemption from the fall – from a human perspective – started at a defined point in time based upon the position of the Son with respect to the grave.
Technically speaking, from a position in finite time, redemption hinges on the day Jesus rose victorious over sin and death. The entire course of human history revolves around that point in time. The resurrection of Christ is kind of like the day on the calendar we call “vernal equinox.” Likewise, the ongoing results of that change in position are revealed slowly.
We are living in this transition time between the fall and glory. Even as we see signs of the gospel peeking out of the decay around us, with a seemingly erratic forecast of turbulent times, we are headed toward summer – and eventually harvest time.
But this time in history, this period between Christ coming and Christ coming again, is a season in its own right. I savor the delicious beauty of the Sonrise. I delight in the new growth springing up from the grace sown and watered with Jesus’ blood. I see patches of darkness being vanquished in his light as the effects of the fall are pushed back like piles of melting snow.
It’s a bit like life with Jesus, really.
On a personal level, redemption starts at a defined point in time based upon the position of my heart with respect to the Son.
The result of the change in position is revealed slowly. This is where it gets really hard. Sanctification typically happens in the same halted, stepped manner as spring. Some days feature clear blue skies, puffy white clouds, and a fragrant breeze full of blossoming hope. Other days are characterized by raging storms that send me scrambling for shelter and herald my doom.
Paul captures this springtime experience perfectly in Romans 7,
…I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate…. I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing…. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. Romans 7:15-25
The tangle of living in this transition fuels my desire for Christ’s return. I know I am living in the transition between the time when I was depraved in my sin and an enemy of God and the time when I will be completely free from my sin and reside in his presence. I am living in the time of seeing dimly as in a mirror and knowing in part. It is the season between knowing and seeing nothing because of my sin and seeing face to face and knowing fully because of Christ (1 Corinthians 13:9-12).
It can be difficult to remember that spring has arrived.
Jesus brought new life. He promises greater and greater victory over sin as I inch along the timeline of my life, but sometimes it seems like winter will never end.
Whatever winter you are facing,
the desperate longing to welcome a child into your home
the weariness of seeking after a wayward child
the endlessness of sleepless nights and unwashed laundry
the thirst for friendships
the fading echo of your voice with no ear to hear it
the ache of dying love
the despair and defeat of giving in to sin again
the futility of fighting chronic illness
the hunger for true peace
the yearning for freedom from worry or shame
Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. Psalm 30:5b
This waiting period can be agony. There is simply no denying it. Whatever it feels like, whatever the forecast seems to indicate, spring is a certainty.
Every second the world is rotating toward the Son. Satan is losing his grip. The effects of the fall are being pushed back as we learn to face the biting cold cloaked with Christ. New life thrives as we trust him with our tears and learn to recognize the signs of spring even as we long for the harvest.
The results of the resurrection are emerging from the decay. Jesus will come again. The truth is Christ has come, resurrection day marked a new season in history, what is now a hint of new life guarantees a harvest of righteousness. It is only a matter of time.