Surprised by Spring

Spring came early this year in Pennsylvania and I could not be more delighted after the extreme winter that we have just come through.  I feel like a kid who is experiencing their first big Christmas or like a person who gets to see the ocean for the first time.  Every new flower and chirping bird are reasons for rejoicing.  I even tried mango flavored water ice yesterday and liked it.  Growing up as a kid in the Caribbean, I might be expected to like mangos anyway, but lets just say that I am fruit “challenged”. Nothing says spring in Philadelphia quite like free water ice at Rita’s on the first official day of spring regardless of how many people are in front of you in the line.  It really is worth the wait.

As I was getting ready to take some pictures of these flowers on our hill for this weeks blog, a funny thing happened.  A small grouping of daffodils that had just opened up and seemed to be stretching toward the sun were suddenly drooping a little bit.  Maybe the sun had gone behind the cloud or its rays were now hidden by a tree that shadowed these flowers slightly.  Already I was disappointed – the perfect flowers an hour ago and already they just weren’t quite right.  I felt a little bit like Jonah and was about to begin complaining when it struck me that some of God’s most beautiful things are only meant to be available for a short time.  I get so consumed by the doing of life that I don’t always live in the present moment the way that God wants me to.

My kids are growing up so fast that I sometimes wonder where all the years have gone already.  It is so easy to wallow in what is past (like my former 32 inch waistline) and forget what is right in front of me.  My boys used to need me to show them how to properly dribble a soccer ball and now I can hardly keep up in a one one one basketball game.  One of my guys is even taller than I am (probably a good thing since I am height challenged as well as fruit challenged).  This week both of them perform in their junior high version of The Music Man and I am reminded that right now is a pretty awesome time in their lives too.

As if living in the past isn’t bad enough, I sometimes find my self obsessing about the future (those who know me might find this a bit of an understatement).  I like to think of myself as a planner, not a controller, but somehow those lines can get blurred on occasion.  More and more I am convinced that God is holding onto his “teaching moments” in my life for those times when I drift into a controlling mode.  The circumstances of this past winter are certainly a case in point.  It seemed like no matter what I or our ministry leadership had planned, things just seemed to work out differently.  I am not a fan or surprises, and yet it turns out that God seems to be.  He doesn’t let me see too far into the future for a reason.

Living in the present is one of the hardest things for me to do and yet is incredibly important in my spiritual growth.  I am learning to see the joy in not dwelling in the past and not trying to plan to far into the future.  Who knows, I may even learn to like some other water ice flavors besides mango.  It is probably too much to expect that I might even learn to enjoy fruit – I am not growing any taller either, no matter how much I try.

This spring, I am going to see each flower as a new blessing from God and each bird singing as a renewal of his promises to me.  The flowers may go away for a season and the birds may migrate to the south, but the flowers will bloom again next year and the birds will sing once more.  What a faithful and creative God we serve who loves to delight us with surprises beyond our wildest imagination if only we can pay attention.

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