Higher Up and Further In

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I don’t care what the calendar says, February is the longest month of the year. The plant catalogues have all been dog-eared and highlighted and sighed over until their covers dangle by a half-staple. Teasing thaws blow in, followed by more blizzard.

Lovesick Teens

In February, I get a nearly uncontrollable itch to visit the area’s nurseries I know so well. Once, I took a roundabout way to a friend’s house just so I could drive by my favorite garden center, though snow covered its benches. Like a lovesick teenager driving by her crush’s house, hoping to get a glimpse of him through the window, I just had to see that familiar place where my beloved plants lived.

My husband shares my gardening passion, but even he thinks such behavior may be one plant short of a flat. I can’t help it. When February arrives, we’ve turned a corner in the tunnel, and I can glimpse spring light flickering in the distance. The dreary skies cannot dampen my certainty that those nurseries must soon open their doors.

Forever February

Some days, this world feels forever February. Its dark chill can overwhelm the winter-weary soul. The false hope of leaders who promise integrity and deliver self-preservation. The endless rain of racism, poverty, and violence. The blizzards of war. The fear of simply sending your child to school.

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It’s difficult to imagine on this warm July morning with birds outside my window, but the news this week has been chilling, which seems to be a trend.

That’s when I glimpse eternity flickering in the distance.

“Then I saw a new heaven and new earth, for the old had disappeared. I heard a loud shout saying, ‘Look, the home of God is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will remove all of their sorrows, and there will be no more death or sorrows or crying or pain. For the old world and its evils are gone forever. To all who are thirsty I will give the springs of the water of life without charge! All who are victorious will inherit these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.’” (Revelation 21:1-7)

The new heaven and earth. Do you give it much thought in your day-to-day? Have you endured the February chills of life, never divining that a day will come when eternal spring heals all pain and banishes all coldness of heart?

Or do you, like me, sometimes glimpse teases of eternity, like February thaws, that make you ache for the real thing?

Everything Is Meaningless . . .

Moments of such closeness with God you know what it would be like to look in Jesus’ eyes and fall into His arms. Moments of nearness to nature that make you wish all creation could stop warring with itself and live in peace. Times of pain, when you want a “do over” in life, and you know all foolishness and weakness will one day fall off like an ill-fitting jacket, leaving you to be what you always wanted to be.

The book of Ecclesiastes attempts to depress us with its unrelenting dirge—“everything is meaningless.” In a book that totally reversed my thinking years ago, Bold Purpose, authors Dan Allender and Tremper Longman argue that we could (and should) view such hopelessness as a gift from God. Run that by me again?

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Indeed, God intends our feelings of futility, the despair that tells us life isn’t a quick fix, to awaken our winter-slumbering souls to the reality that this life isn’t all there is. He desires us, in our personal Februaries of life, to long for the time when all pain, injustice, and despair will be melted forever in the spring sunshine of His presence. Through that longing, we can see glimpses of the eternity ahead, and we do not lose hope.

Truly seeing the reality of life in winter plants in me the hope of spring so real that suddenly this life seems less so.

In C.S. Lewis’ The Last Battle, Jewel the unicorn longs to go “higher up and farther in” to taste the wonders of his final destiny—eternity in God’s land. So do I.

And sometimes, I long for it so deeply I just want to drive by, taking in the sight of what will be when the darkness is destroyed.

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