FAITHFUL LIVING: Take time for a spring refresher

How has God enlightened and enriched your life this week? I believe that God uses the natural world around us to soothe our deepest, most heartfelt worries. We must, however, stop long enough to experience His touch and allow it to transform our thinking.

This week I have been most notably enlightened with visual contrasts far too dramatic to ignore, timed far better than anything I could have arranged had I been given the power.

My lesson began on Wednesday when I realized I could actually see the face of my dear, faithful walking partner Jane as we headed down the road for our morning trek. To understand my joy you must know that we have, for weeks, been walking in the wee morning hours barely able to see each other — due in great part to the darkness of winter, the rain, the wind and the heavy jackets, mittens and ear muffs we often wear to spite the elements. Like soldiers on a mission to ever-improve our cardiovascular health, we walk our course empowered not only by commitment and friendship, but also by a looming hope: if we are outside we will be one of the first to detect the coming of spring.

According to the calendar, it is just days away.

Jane’s good morning smile said it all this week, for I no longer needed my flashlight to see it. Standing beside a pond quaking from the sound of frogs singing of spring, I realized God is painting a picture of new life, new beginnings, and new hope with our surroundings. It is a gift of great value and it is free.

Hop out of bed and look around you, for there is so much to see and experience out there in the misty pink glow of morning. The world is waking up from a long winter’s nap. God is calling and His message is clear: Even if you have been spiritually sleeping, now is your time to awaken and commit to growth.

Above all else it is perhaps the activities of the birds that nourish me most, what with their beautiful love songs that now pierce our winter mornings and the courtship dances, up there, in the chilly air. I can only wonder where that pair of mallards who take flight each time I walk past our pond might eventually make their nest. And just yesterday a pair of mourning doves landed on our back deck. They looked like the pair who regularly visited our feeders last year and nested somewhere at the edge of the wood.

God’s story of new beginnings and hope is dramatized in the fuzzy, soft pussy willow buds covering the tree out in our corral and in the tender, green lily shoots pushing up through the bark in our front planter. Cutting away old growth on our berry vines last weekend revealed new leaves just beginning to push their heads out, providing me with tempting thoughts of fresh blackberry jam, smeared across a piece of homemade bread.

God knows I have needed to be gently reminded that He is in control and never failing in His promise to provide hope and new life — when all I have seen for weeks has been the rain, wind, and darkness. God will grace us with His presence and spirit each and every day when we look past our struggles, obligations, bills and loneliness to experience an orderly, miraculous natural world.

And oh, how God speaks magnificently to us here in the Pacific Northwest.

In response I have asked God to refresh me with His presence at the moments I need Him most — when life is demanding and I am feeling overwhelmed, tired, discouraged and cynical.

The game plan is simple. I will celebrate the birth of spring and incorporate the comfort and knowledge of God into those moments. If I am driving kids to activities I will remember to take some time to appreciate the snow-covered mountains and icy blue waters. If I am cleaning windows I will note the lovely clouds and stop for a moment to feel the warmth of a sun break on my face. Whether I am finishing up taxes or running out the door to yet another committee meeting, I have promised myself I will stop for a moment. I will draw in a deep breath of fresh air, watch a robin eat a worm, and praise God for the gift of our natural world that reminds me He is in control and the inventor of all that is truly beautiful.

Won’t you join me in such a journey this week? I have no doubt we will be enlightened as never before.

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