Friday, January 30, 2015

What dwells underneath

It is the dead of winter, the end of January, and a greyness has settled upon the land.  Some places are covered in snow, deep and thick.  In other locations, it is simply a dreariness that comes from the cold.  We check the forecast to no avail, because when it comes down to it, we wear the same old coat anyway.

When I was a little girl at the end of January in Chicago when the frigid temperatures were too low to even register on the thermometer outside the kitchen window and all seemed bleak, my father used to say:

"Every day is just one day
            closer to spring."

My father was not an optimist at heart, but a realist.  His voice reverberated with words of experience, one who had come through the things in life that were a lot deeper than snow and a lot more harrowing than walking to school in bone-chilling temperatures.

You will get through this.

But his words did not just speak of enduring, but of redeeming.  The world defines hope as wishful thinking.  The Bible reveals hope as that on which you can stake your life.

Hope is not based on IF,
    but preparing for WHEN.
Not even a looking forward to,
      but what is before me
      even today,
      even in this,
a deeper design,
        a vision beyond,
a common grace. 

The enormous sycamore tree in our neighbor's yard appears today to be a goner, offering nothing that would indicate that it is even going to make it.  But in all actuality, it is more alive than ever.  Because winter is not a season of death for trees, but the time of greatest growth.  It is when tree roots grow deeper, the blanket of snow providing not a protection for the roots, but a slow seeping of moisture, which turns out to be the best way to water a tree.  It is a season of gathering what the tree needs for the greatest show on earth -- spring.

There is a hymn that has been forgotten in this new generation that speaks of what this hope does.  The chorus says:

Because He lives,
I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives,
     all fear is gone.
Because I know
     He knows the future.
And life's worth the living,
     just because He lives.

This cold cloudy weather is a time of deep healing and restoration.  Spring just reveals what has already been redeemed.

Those who live in hope
    have a secret joy,
that which dwells underneath,
unchanged by the forecast,
strengthened by what
     has yet to appear.

Why are you cast down,
          O my soul,
and why are you disquieted
           within me?
Hope in God;
for I shall again praise Him,
my help
        and my God.

              Psalm 42.5

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