There are some things in life that seem to be never ending – like the winter we are experiencing in Pennsylvania this year. It started early and has never seemed to let up. Given my propensity to dislike everything about this season every year (I can’t help the fact that I grew up in the Caribbean); I get particularly bent out of shape when there seems to be no end in sight. As usual, God knows that and sent us a curve ball this week. First we had a deep heavy snow and then a massive ice storm resulting in many trees and tree limbs coming down and widespread power outages in our area. Despite the fact that we never lost power during the storm when many hundreds of thousands of our neighbors did, I was still grumpy.
On Friday morning, I was walking up the driveway to a prayer meeting we hold once a month with our sister mission, WEC International. As I was looking at the piles of snow on either side of the road and trying not to slip and fall on black ice, I noticed something. Right along the side of the road someone had plowed wider than normal and exposed the ground. That might not sound like a big deal, but given that we have not seen much of the ground at all this winter, I was startled for a moment. Then it hit me, it was almost as if God were smiling down on me at that very moment. This small patch of ground is actually pretty important to me and my family. That exact spot is where, for a few brief weeks each summer, a beautiful patch of Tiger Lilies springs out of the earth to reflect the glory of their creator.
I can’t control the weather. I can’t control the snow and ice. I can’t control the flowers or the plants. But, I serve a God who controls all three.
Somehow this brief moment of levity with God smiling down on me reminded me that he has imbedded the very story of the gospel into the cycles of nature that He created. The death and destruction of the winter always leads to the beauty and flourishing of the spring. Jesus’ death and agony on the cross produce the same life, joy and flourishing in those He came to save. How quickly I forget as a stare out my window at the trees with no leaves and the never ending piles of snow and ice.
Finding joy in the midst of the seasons of life that bring “never ending” struggles requires us to find patches of ground with no snow. We have to be reminded over and over again who God really is and who we are created to be. This week, I attended a memorial service for a young man in our community who took his own life. At that service, one of the speakers said something remarkably profound. In attempting to answer the question on everyone’s mind, “Why did this happen?” he said, “For one brief tragic moment this young man forgot why God put him on this earth.” How easy it is for all of us to do that and make monumental mistakes as a result.
This week, I will be looking for more patches of earth, but I may have to wait a few weeks for the first flowers to poke their heads through. It is nice to know that in God’s time they will always bloom every year and I bet He enjoys watching the smile on my face when I see them for the first time.