But then January and February roll around and winter is still hanging on, and we get sad, and we start missing our vitamin D, and we get crabby about the endless layers we have to put on, and if March comes and winter is still here? We're down right angry about it.
It seems that winter will never end.
It seems that my skin will always be cracked and dry, I will always have to wear a heavy coat, and walking to the mailbox is a bitter cold chore.
And then something happens…every year…
The sun comes out. The snow melts. You shed your jacket. Tree buds form. The green tips of tulips begin to push from the dead earth.
But it's not really dead.
It's never really been dead.
Spring comes after winter. Every. Single. Year. And every single year I am surprised, even a little shocked, that she remembered where I lived.
On those first warm days, when I feel the sun on my skin that has been hidden for so long, I am nearly always reminded of how God works in my life.
One of my favorite books in high school and college was "Passion and Purity" by Elisabeth Elliot. In one section she talks about how our spiritual lives are like seeds; how we have to break in order to grow:
"The growth of all living green things wonderfully represents the process of receiving and relinquishing, gaining and losing, living and dying. The seed falls into the ground, dies as the new shoot springs up. There must be a splitting and a breaking in order for a bud to form. The bud "lets go" when the flower forms. The calyx lets go of the flower. The petals must curl up and die in order for the fruit to form. The fruit falls, splits, relinquishes the seed. The seed falls into the ground. . ."
I think of this every spring. I think of all the little pieces that have fallen into place to create the beauty of Spring, and I think of all the things that have had to die, in order for me to experience the green, new life around me. Elliot says, "There is no ongoing spiritual life without this process of letting go. At the precise point where we refuse, the growth stops."
She uses the metaphor of an acorn: an acorn in and of itself is a nice little thing, but the bigger picture, what God intended that acorn to become, is an oak tree! If the acorn weren't willing to be split apart and broken in the soil, it would never reach it's potential of that great tree:
"The acorn does what it was made to do, without pestering its Maker with questions about when and how and why. We who have been given an intelligence and a will and a whole range of wants that can be set against the divine Pattern for God are asked to believe Him. We are given the chance to trust Him when He says to us, "...If any man will let himself be lost for my sake, he will find his true self."
When will we find it? we ask. The answer is, Trust Me.
How will we find it? The answer again is, Trust Me.
Why must I let myself be lost? we persist. The answer is, Look to the acorn and trust Me. "
[Elisabeth Elliot, Passion and Purity, pages 163-166]
And so, as the cold days become fewer and farther between, and things begin to get green, I will be reminded of my own life. I will be reminded that in the splitting and breaking, in the gaining and losing, something bigger is happening. I will look at the fresh grass that grows, and the new flower buds getting ready to burst open, and I will hear God saying, "Look to the acorn and trust me."
I will remember that every year winter does end.
I will remember that for every winter there is a spring.
"Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds." John 12:24