Two days ago my Facebook page blew up with complaints about how cold, snowy, and miserable this winter has been across the United States. We were only two days into the “official” start of spring, but everyone was fed up with winter’s iron grip and its dogged tenacity to hang around way beyond its welcome. Record-setting snowfalls across the plains and up the eastern seaboard have exhausted our patience, so now Americans are lining up to point fingers.
Blame it on El Niño. Blame it on La Niña. What’s that country song? Blame it on Texas; don’t blame it on me. Better yet, let’s blame it on Phil. After all, it’s Phil’s fault we’re all sick and tired of this winter anyway.
You remember Punxsutawney Phil who came out of hiding on February 2 long enough to predict an early end to winter? We set our calendars and hearts by that groundhog’s annual prediction, and this year he got it wrong.
Oh, so wrong!
Well, prosecutor Michael T. Gmoser of Butler County, Ohio, is not happy. He’s more than cranky about Phil’s “err apparent” and ready to charge him with a crime. Gmoser was ready to indict the guilty groundhog with fraud last week, saying Phil should be held accountable for his “misrepresentation of an early spring” and for his massive faux paws (sic on purpose). Fortunately for the groundhog, his handler, Bill Deeley, stepped up with an explanation. Seems something got lost in the translation and the misstep was Deeley’s not Phil’s. So, the groundhog gets a reprieve, but what about us? Do we get a reprieve?
When is winter going to be over?
Is it spring yet?
I don’t remember asking those questions when I lived in Portland, Oregon, because the winters there were so mild. Predictable, but mild. Sometimes the first daffodil pushed its way through the ground as early as February heralding the end of winter in Oregon, but never an end to the rain. I do remember asking when spring would arrive when I lived in Chicago and Nebraska, however. Winters in the Midwest could be brutal. Trees lost their leaves early in September and didn’t even hint at rebirth until April or even later. The winds were relentless, the ground froze, and the snow buried large sections of the farm fields around us for months.
My elementary school even hosted a competition for sighting the first robin’s return after its annual migration to wherever it was they went every winter.
We just had another snowstorm in Colorado this past weekend. I think that makes 6 this year with 4 of them of them classified as blizzards. As I looked out the window of my hotel room, I lost hope. Fall and winter are my favorite seasons of the year because I like to hole up and write for weeks at a time, but this weekend’s snowstorm even did me in. The 50mph wind gusts, single digit temperatures, below-zero wind chill factors, and treacherous roadways finally got to me; I had had enough. As I sat by my window looking at the one-dimensional landscape, I heard myself ask for the first time since we moved here, “Is it spring yet?”
Okay, I whined.
Everything was cold and barren. The trees across the field reverberated with rigid emptiness being shaken by the Rocky Mountain winds. The land hidden underneath the jagged snowdrifts was unresponsive and frozen. All about was frosted exhale suspended momentarily before being sucked into the wind’s violent vortex. As I watched a 4-wheel drive SUV lose traction on the icy hill outside the hotel, it was easy to see that all forward momentum was lost as people retreated in the face of the powerful storm. Like a time capsule buried for posterity, I wondered if I’d ever see the ground again.
“And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” (Ezekiel 36:26-TLB)
Winter will not last forever. Seasons are temporary. Temperatures will rise, ice will thaw, and winter will eventually relent; it has to. It will give way. Despite this temporary delay, spring will come and warm both the ground and our hearts once again with its wonder and its stunning beauty.
“…Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5)
After the dark of midnight, comes the dawn. After the storm passes by, a rainbow appears. Hope follows despair. Joy follows sorrow. Life follows death.
“I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)
What in your life needs a resurrection? What sorrow, loss, or disappointment does God want to breathe life into? What “winter season” needs the coming of spring in your life?
Maybe you’ve just endured a record-setting winter season in your heart and are anxious for the spring to come. What you’d really like to do is to find some bless-ed groundhog to blame for the pain you’ve endured this season. Don’t waste your energy. Winter comes to everyone, and adversity knows no boundary, so save your energy for the beauty of spring that is on its way.
Spring will come, although it may not come all at once. Your “spring” may enter quietly, slowly thawing the frozen panes of your heart one panel at a time. Permit God’s warmth to melt your heart and usher in a new season of renewal, a season of resurrection.
Be patient. The spring will come.
Winter will relent.
“So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; and He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth.” (Hosea 6:3)
God is faithful. He is as dependable and predictable as the dawn. He wants to breathe life into the dead places of your heart, and I can’t think of a better time than during Holy Week to let him.
Will you allow Jesus the freedom in your life to resurrect what has died or gone dormant?
“I am the resurrection and the life!”
© Copyright, 2013 by Donna Tallman.