God is good! I have survived another long, hard winter, and am still here to see another spring! My neighborhood is glorious right now. All the flowering trees are out, the deciduous trees have almost finished leafing, and their color is still a fresh, vibrant green. My next door neighbor is an avid gardener, and his front yard is ablaze with lavish beds of yellow and orange tulips and daffodils, studded here and there with deep purple or magenta pansies. It is a joyous riot of color. My own yard, a little more subdued, is still happily in bloom with daffodils, snowdrops and grape hyacinth. My little back garden is green with the perennials coming up. I am in a mild state of euphoria to see that my lily-of-the-valley bed, so hard to get established, has finally begun to spread, and fill in the shady spot beneath the Korean dogwood. When the last of the endless dirty mounds of snow finally disappeared, it was such a thrill to see the green shoots of the early bulbs which were already coming up under the snow. Even the terrible winter we have just finished was not enough to put a halt to the subtle movement and growth of roots beneath the protecting soil.
God’s mercy and grace are like this. We may be experiencing terrible things on the outside –a winter of illness or financial woes or errant children – but if we live with the power of God’s love in us as we endure, He is still doing wonderful things underneath, in the places where we are not frozen out with fear or stress. The warmth of His love keeps things moving inside, and changes are happening which we can’t see, but which will be evident at some time in the future as we finally get to the end of our winter of despair.
Sometimes I find I am overwhelmed by the grace and mercy of our God. I start out praying, and find I can’t keep from weeping…not because I am sad, or because things are hard in my life, but because as I begin to go over in my mind all that God is, and what He has done, and His majesty and holiness – I am overcome by His limitless glory, and the contrast between Who He is, and who I am. I am stunned by the fact that in spite of it all, He loves me. Am I worthy? No, but Christ is worthy – and when the Father looks at me, He sees His Son. His grace and mercy overcome me.
I look at my surroundings. Although I don’t have many resources, I have never gone hungry. I have a roof over my head, and my 11 year old car still runs reliably. I have clothes enough to cover my body decently, if not fashionably. I have good children, good friends, and a wonderful church. I was able to retire, and so I am able to go with the demands of my body and work when I can and rest when I must, and I have the freedom to decide which is which. Grace and mercy, once again.
There are times when things are not so good; when loved ones are suffering; when trials come and there is pain and stress and fear. In all these things, God is underneath, letting me rest on His strong and everlasting arms; and although the winter of my trial may be long and hard, I can be at peace within it because He is in it with me. He gives me hope for better times, a new spring to come. He is the One Who provides both the will and the strength to get through these times, and come out the other side stronger. Grace and mercy.
When I am being weak, and resistant to the demands of trials, and non-responsive to His molding of me, which is designed to make me better, and I fight back and say I don’t want this – He is patient. He will let me rebel, and then, after I have had my little temper tantrum, begin once again to take me to where He wants me. He tells me He will not allow more pressure on me than I am able to bear; and that in every trial, He will provide a way out. Grace and mercy.
When I was younger, I was not so willing to accept things as they are. I could not see beyond the stresses of life which marked the “winter of my discontent”. My glass was always half empty, instead of being half full. I had been brought up to feel worthless, and I dealt with everything from a position of having to prove that I was NOT worthless; of being defensive and determined to prove that I was as good as….name your thing. Over the years God has, through pushing and prodding and opening my eyes gradually as I was able to take it in, taught me that none of this was necessary. He has warmed me with the realization that I have worth because He has made me, and I was made for His glory. He imputes the righteousness of Christ to me, in His love, and I am being slowly transformed into the image of Christ. He works beneath the snow and ice of my outward façade, my human understanding, and brings warmth and growth and change to my eternal soul. None of this is because I have any merit, but because He is a loving God and for His own reasons, He has allowed me to become His child. He always wants my best. I am not asking any questions: I am forever grateful and humbled to be the recipient of His grace and mercy.
I love spring. I love the evidence of God’s love in His sharing of all this beauty with His creatures. love the references to new growth, new beginnings, the possibility of beauty and happiness and joy in our lives. I love the symbols, for all to see, of God’s grace and mercy.
Praise God from Whom all blessings flow! Praise Him, ye creatures here below; praise Him above, ye heavenly hosts. Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost! (Doxology)