March 6, 2016
Every autumn, Ed and I have the same conversation. I remark about how beautiful the trees are, with their changing colors... gold, orange, red. And then he responds with, "I hate fall. Everything is dying." When winter comes I will say how lovely a new fresh covering of snow looks, pure and white, and he will respond with, "I hate winter. Everything is dead." (Yes, this is the same cheerful Ed you all know and love LOL!).
But the truth of the matter is that in autumn everything is NOT dying. And in the winter, everything is NOT dead. Like the little girl in our Gospel reading (Luke 8:49-56), everything is just sleeping. God gives us a beautiful object lesson every Spring, and yet so many people still 'don't get it'.
When God first created us, we were like the trees in the summer. Beautiful, alive, vibrant! But then we sinned. We tried to stay alive through the law, but it alone was not enough. The apostle Paul tells us that the law was powerless because it was weakened by the flesh (Romans 8:3). No one was capable of keeping the God's law perfectly, so our spirits became like the trees of winter; as the Bible says, "dead in trespasses and sins". (Ephesians 2:1) And if it were not for Christ, there would never have been any hope for a personal Springtime. No hope of being alive again, of blossoming and growing¦
But thanks to Jesus's death and resurrection, those of us who have put our faith in Him have been reborn, our spirit's once again alive through Him. Just like the buds starting to open on the trees, and the crocuses starting to poke their leaves above the ground; because the light and warmth of the Springtime sun has woken them from their winter slumber - so our spirits, when touched by the brilliance of the Light of God, and the warmth of His love, are brought back to life through Christ.
But what if there was no Spring? What if the ground stayed cold and icy, and darkness filled most hours of each day? There is a very real psychological disorder called Seasonal Affective Disorder (Ironically, the acronym is SAD). According to Mental Health America, SAD is a mood disorder associated with depression and related to seasonal variations of light. SAD affects half a million people every winter between September and April, peaking in December, January, and February. The 'Winter Blues,' a milder form of SAD, may affect even more people. Spiritually, those without Christ live each day as a day in winter. They live their lives in the darkness, their hearts cold and bitter. They have no hope of Springtime, no hope of their spirits being reborn and growing in Christ, no hope of resurrection to an eternal summer in heaven after their earthly bodies die. Just more darkness and despair in the pits of hell. Now that is truly SAD!
So as we watch the daffodils and the tulips rise up from the ground, and watch the buds on the trees begin to open; let us have compassion on those who are stuck in a spiritual winter. If we truly have the light and love of Christ in our hearts, how can we not want to share that with those living in darkness?
Or how could we want to go back to living as those who are still in darkness? The Bible says that we also were once of darkness, but now we have light from the Lord, and so we should live as children of the Light! And that the Light within us should only produce what is good and true. (Ephesians 5:8,9) For while we are on this earth, not everything that blossoms in the Springtime is good. Weeds quickly emerge along with the flowers, looking to steal their sunlight, water, and nutrients. Just as wherever Christians gather, to grow, and to spread their light and love, satan will also be there, trying his best to keep them from growing and spreading.
So when you leave here this morning, rejoice that we were are now in the month of March; and while we might still have a bit of snowfall or a day or two below freezing, for the most part wintertime is past. But more so rejoice, that because of Jesus, the winter of our soul is past. We have new life through Him, and the day is coming when both our spirits and our bodies will be renewed.
As God promises in one of my favorite chapters in the Bible, Revelation 21, "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, 'Look, God's home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.'
And the one sitting on the throne said, 'Look, I am making everything new!' And then he said to me, 'Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.' And he also said, 'It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.'" Now if that isn't something to rejoice about, I don't know what is!
Everyone pick a card, then tell me what you like about that season...
(Some things to ponder... Every season has its own blessings. Why do you think God made seasons? What can we learn from the seasons?)