"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." Psalm 51:10

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Longing for Spring

“Spring has sprung, the grass has riz’; see where all the pretty flowers iz”
I’m not quite sure where this quote originates, but my husband claims his father spouted this catchy phrase each year. And, though we barely had a winter in this place where snow days usually stack up like bills in the mailbox, I still look longingly for spring. In early March signs began blaring its return, daffodils waving in the early morning sun, trees bursting with blossoms, and the bluebird whacking its beak against my window pane attempting to destroy the bird in his reflection. Poor guy! He pings and pounds because he’s protecting the birdhouse for the female to lay her eggs. He must have a massive migraine.
Spring emerges with new life and brings hope to the world. Nature announces its arrival. Birds sing, dead-like weeping willow sticks flesh green, and evergreens spray fresh scent. My senses, dulled by the brown and gray of winter, awaken to bright splashes of yellow, green, purple and pink.
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:12)
In a purely seasonal sense, I’ve been sick all winter, longing for the renewal of life that comes with spring. Each year, I watch what looks dead sprout green and bloom color. The tangible signs of spring spark a sensation in my soul that someday my eternal longings will be fulfilled. 

Though I enjoy the earthly blessings God has given me—marriage, children, friendships, ministry—desires deep down lay dormant, waiting for what only heaven can offer.

“If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.”
(1 Corinthians 15:9)

In his book, Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis says, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”  As a child, I remember anticipating exciting events—vacations, play dates, grandma’s visits—and then it was over all too soon. The buildup to the event was often times more thrilling than the actual occasion. When the trip concluded, my friend returned home and grandma travelled back to California, I felt letdown. For all these experiences promised to be, my expectations weren’t met—my longings for more unquenched.  

Because “God has set eternity in the hearts of men” (Eccl. 3:11), no earthly encounter will fulfill us. God designed it that way—that we long for Him, fill up with Him, hope in Him. Even chocolate, albeit extremely satisfying, is simply a substitute!  I love C.S. Lewis’ words regarding our longings realized.

“Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it {longings}, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others to do the same.”

So, while I revel in earthly blessings, like the beauty of spring, lunch with precious friends, time with my family, I realize that God has created me for more. My mind can’t begin to grasp anything more beautiful than blooming tulips, cascading waterfalls and snow-capped mountains. What God has planned in the life beyond is just a shadow of all that I experience here. And frankly, some of these occurences, like sickness, pain and death, I can live without! Yet, even all the goodness here can’t trump what God has in store there.

Until that time when God meets all of our longings, we wait for spring. Life may look bleak, but as sure as the sun rises every day, just below the soil, new green is getting ready to push up out of the ground. It’s patiently waiting for the right time. We keep hoping as we scan for that first shoot of green forcing its way to the light. The flower gains strength under the sun’s warmth as do we. Let us bask in the light of the Son.

“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)

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