Saturday, April 1, 2006

Winter to Spring

by Donna L. Watkins

Recently, an aunt gave me a book entitled, "Seasons of My Heart," by Barbara J. Peretti, who is the wife of Frank Peretti. I've just gotten started in the book ... but it hit me like a cold gust of wind in winter. Isn't it grand when God drops things in on us just when we need them? I've been on this heavy-duty herbal program for rheumatoid arthritis and it has its ups and downs as it kills off the bad guys (mycoplasmas) that are causing the disease. As it gets into the cell to destroy the offenders, you have die-off and that makes you feel worse.

I'm not a very patient person. I've always had tons of energy and designed my life to revolve around what I do. God began dealing with me on that many years ago, at which time I wrote an article in the very beginnings of this email devotional. It was entitled, "Life is in the BEING, Not in the DOING."

Mentally I see that 'being' has a lot more value than I ever placed on it, but destroying the old tapes that set my 'doing' in motion has been a slow process. God does not create disease, that's the devil's work, but I know God allows every single thing that comes into our lives for a purpose that will only produce good in our lives if we love Him enough to accept and learn from it.

Most of my life I haven't been willing to accept anything outside of my own design for my life. When things weren't going my way, I wasn't too sure God was there for me. We supposedly see God through the filters of our own parents. My Daddy could fix anything and he was always there for me. The problem was that he never said NO to me. God loves me enough to do what is best for me. He created me to fellowship with Him and sent His Son to die for me so that I could find peace, joy and contentment in all circumstances of life.

Becoming like Christ is the catalyst need to have that peace. Barbara J. Peretti says, "If the present is not glorious, it is not that God has left us; rather, He is silently working to develop His character in our lives." Don't we tease about how many classes there are on character and that we don't want any more schooling? If we don't get a passing grade, we get to repeat the lessons with more circumstances. The devil never runs out of teaching materials or methods.

Our lives are full of seasons and what we remember most are the winters because winters seem so long. Spring seems to pass by so quickly. Here in Virginia by mid-March, on our acre, the daffodils begin to bob their bright yellow flowers looking as if they are smiling at you. The forsythias bloom such a bright yellow that they look like golden twinkle lights. The hyacinths surge those tall chunky blooms up from the ground and provide a scent that takes my mind to the scenes of Heaven when I inhale the aroma.

Today is the first day of April and there are tiny buds on trees and bushes everywhere. The butterfly bushes have been surging forth with new green sprigs since I pruned them a week ago. Oh, how I long for the oaks and maples to burst forth with leaves in the forest behind us because they are going to begin a building project of a housing village to the right of our property line.

Six months without leaves on the trees makes our yard feel so bare, so cold, with the trees seemingly lifeless. It's like our little corner of the world has been forgotten about. The only memory of the lushness of summer are the evergreens that look like artificial plants amidst the starkness of the plant world around them.

Winter circumstances in our lives make us feel so barren, but life is still there, waiting to spring forth. The daffodil bulbs were there all winter being nourished by the snow and without the freezing temperatures, they would not be blooming at all. I cut some daffodils to surround myself with them in the house .... to remind me that my life is like a daffodil. I will make it through the winter seasons of life and will spring forth, more like Christ, if I choose to dig into the Truth and pass the class.

Deuteronomy 11:13-14 says, "And it shall be that if you earnestly obey My commandments which I command you today, to love the Lord your God and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, then I will give you the rain for your land in its season."

The warmth of His love for us and His Spring rains bring us to life again. They allow us to bloom and glorify our Creator and provide a bright life of hope to others. And so I wonder ..... do my choices hold the rains away? Do I prolong the winters of my life because I am pouting? What can I do to shorten the winters of my life?

It is so much easier for me to whine and complain that I'm not getting my own way, but this life we've been given is not about "what's in it for me" even though our culture teaches that. It's about loving our Father and appreciating the sacrifice of His Son that allows us to come boldly to His throne for comfort, direction, purpose and power to endure the winters of our lives with peace and joy. Do we as Christians look different in our winter storms? We've been given the power to do so.

Father, help me to see who you really are based on Truth, and to know that what I see as bad in my life can be so good if I will love You and serve You regardless of my circumstances. Help me to look to You in all things and leave behind my own inadequate strength and power to access yours. As I seek You, rain on my life, Lord, so I can spring forth as the daffodils to be a bright and smiling face that reflects You, the Creator. Amen

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