Even though I’ll rarely name spring as my favorite season (autumn typically grabs that distinction), every time the vernal season rolls around, I find myself in joyful anticipation. The whiff of fresh earth in the air, the peeks of greenery and the receding snowbanks all conspire to generate excitement about warmer days ahead and the rejuvenation of the trees, flowers and other plant life. The songbirds sense it, too, and can’t help but break out in a riotous chorus.
There is something about the promise of new life that resonates deeply in our souls. It brings to mind the promise of the Apostle Paul: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ” (2 Cor. 5:17-18a). Paul states this equation pretty explicitly: Identity in Christ (or Oneness in Christ) = New Creation and New Life. It sounds so definitive, so sudden and complete.
And, as Christians, we affirm that this is indeed the reality for the one who places his or her faith in Jesus Christ: By the grace of God, the believer has made the transition from stagnance and death to abundance, vitality and eternal life. And yet, when we look at our lives, it can feel like this transition – this transformation – can be a bit more like the movement from winter into spring than the effect of flipping on the light switch in a darkened room. We peer into the corners of our life and continue to encounter the spiritual equivalent of muddy puddles, brown grass and even the occasional shopping cart emerging from the parking lot pile of rotting snow. Whenever we bump up against one of these reminders of the winter season of our lives, we have the choice whether to stuff it away or to expose it to the warming, melting, refining sunshine of God’s love and power. Instead of becoming frustrated with these wintry vestiges, we can take heart that God isn’t finished with his good work in us, and that in his love God will continue to shape us, to lead us increasingly into the rhythms and health of new life, and to transform us into the likeness of his Son.
That process isn’t always painless. Just as flower beds need to be loosened up and de-rooted prior to spring planting, the soil of our lives will require tilling and preparation to be ideally suited for the flourishing of new life. Our life as “new creations” requires healthy roots and a foundation that’s as free as possible of the rocks and obstructions that can stunt our growth.
So, as our backyards, parks and communities continue to green up this spring, let’s allow God to use these various signs of new life as reminders of the good work that God longs to continue to do in us. Let’s be encouraged that, indeed, the old has gone and the new has come in our transformed and ever-transforming lives. And let’s commit not to shy away (either in shame or in secret longing) from those wintry remnants that we encounter in our lives. The abundance of spring is here. The grace, love and redemption of God are HERE! Thanks be to God.