I could have called this: “A tale of two pictures”
My second grader has been asking me for a few weeks:
“When will it be spring?”
A question most of Western New York has been asking since, well, it seems since the Christmas season ended. I knew my son’s question was fueled partly by studying seasons in school and the rest from his great desire to ride his bike. So we had this discussion regularly… and then it changed… no longer was it solely, “When will it be spring?” Instead, he started excitedly pointing out signs of spring…
Longer days… “it’s a sign of spring, Mom.”
Birds loudly chirping… “Mom, it’s so awesome. It’s a sign of spring!”
Ice/Snow melting off our driveway and exposing gravel… “Oh Mom, THIS is a good sign…”
“How many days did you say it was until spring?”
And at that point it was two days. At two days until spring my little weather watcher was sure spring would arrive and the “nice” weather would come, just like it should.
It was that exposed gravel that really seemed to solidify all the other signs and assure him that spring would be here as “promised.”
He wouldn’t hear it.
So there we were, two days until spring, with all the signs pointing to good weather in two days. Well, “all the signs” except the weather forecast. Because unless you were out of the area, you know what happened on the “First Day of Spring.”
What happened? The signs foretold spring’s arrival, the calendar confirmed spring had come, other people around the country had spring…
But it wasn’t “spring”! Oh, I know the reality… the vernal equinox on March 20th = spring. And meteorologically speaking spring had sprung on the first of March.
Where was OUR spring?
Isaiah took the situation in stride. He changed the question and now asked, “When will the weather be nice?” He and his siblings went outside to play in the snow, still looking forward to warmer weather, but not nearly as thrown off as most adults were to the lack of “spring” on the first day of spring.
Just as Isaiah, living in winter, was awaiting spring, looking for the signs, and counting down the days until its “promised” arrival….often we find ourselves waiting on God, waiting for the “winter” of our lives to pass until spring.
A time of metaphorical “winter” can be hard to bear in our lives just as real winter takes its toll. We long for “spring”. We seek the signs. And often people are left disappointed when it doesn’t come as they’d expected.
When enduring hard “winter-like” times in life we take comfort from scripture like Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
We have hope that the harshness of the “winter” we face will fade into the beautiful promise of “spring.” We wait… we wait for the signs that God will answer our prayers, work good in our lives, give us hope and a future.
Sometimes, it seems we are waiting for signs that will never come…
Maybe we are waiting for the wrong “picture.”
Maybe we are waiting on the wrong “timeframe.”
The prophet Jeremiah was sent to the people at a harsh time, with a tough message. God’s judgment was come. But that was not the end. God’s mercy and faithfulness would bring restoration and renewal. The road wasn’t “easy” and it sure wasn’t “quick.”
Jeremiah’s prophecy of the Lord’s promise of a hope and a future were still true. God’s plans would take a long time to come to pass… the road traveled wouldn’t be easy for His people…
Sometimes we have to face that our understanding of what God’s plans are for our lives, when he will work those plans, and how they will come to fruition are beyond our understanding.
And so we have to trust.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
And there is another thing for us to seek… contentment.
Paul gives us the great challenge as he says, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12-13
Because life isn’t waiting to be lived only when “spring” comes… life is for the living even in the “winter”…
God, when we face times of “winter” in our lives it can seem too tough to bear. We call out to you and pray for you to bring “spring”… for you to deliver us… for you to bring restoration. It can be so very hard to wait on your timing. Give us the strength to trust in you. Give us the endurance to remain faithful even in the difficult times. Give us the faith to trust the future YOU have planned for us AND the present you have given. Grant us the contentment, which only comes in you, to live life to the fullest wherever you have placed us!