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Posted: February 11, 2011 12:00 a.m.

Dale: Can’t wait for spring!

We have recently endured our third snowfall of the year in Newton County.

The beauty is undeniable, but neither is the sludge, the run on milk and bread, and the rash of fender benders.

"I can’t wait for spring!" has become the standard greeting of the day. I enjoy each season in its turn, but enough already. Bring on the robins!

It has often been noted that our lives play out like seasons of the year.

There is the springtime of youth, when our bones and minds are supple and surging with new growth.

Then comes the scorching summer heat of young adulthood, aflame with passions, long days and hard work.

Then suddenly, it seems, we find ourselves in the autumn of middle age, when the world is awash in colors from a different palette. There is newfound beauty, breathtaking in its splendor. But the air is more subdued, and hints of bygone vitality mingle with the suggestion of shorter days to come.

In the winter of old age, the trees stretch bony fingers prayerfully to the heavens. It is a prayer of supplication and praise, and perhaps a lament or two. But this prayer is deeper and more fervent than the innocent bedtime vespers of a bygone spring.

"For everything, there is a season," said the writer of Ecclesiastes (3:1). We often hear these words with the resignation that our current situation is something we must endure. But it is also a promise. If this is not a season of joy, we have the hope that another one is around the corner. Each season emerges to replace the one before, bringing with it a glory all its own. Each season offers its own testimony to God’s creative grace.

The apostle Paul calls our attention to this miracle of renewal. "So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation. Everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!" (2 Corinthians 5:17).

We cannot deny the bad things of the past, nor expect to escape the consequences. But by God’s grace, we can often make something good come out of it. Like nutrients drawn from the compost of last year’s waste, we can draw strength and wisdom from the past, and emerge with new life and new opportunities. Forgiveness can heal both the victim and the perpetrator, and break the ground to allow new beginnings.

Even as we face our final winter, we have the hope of waking to a new spring in a new home. From the empty tomb of Easter morning came the grand announcement that death has been swallowed up in victory.

While death still visits, and its shadow lingers, it cannot take up permanent residence. Its shadow stands mute and impotent. What we look forward to is a new life in a new body, beyond our imagining, but just as real. The seed that is sown is perishable, weak and finite. The body that emerges is imperishable, glorious, powerful and spiritual (1 Corinthians 15:35). It is a spring that never yields to summer, ever fresh, shouting glory to God. We linger among ice and snow, but warmer sunrays are not far away.

I can’t wait for spring!

Brian Dale is pastor of Allen Memorial Methodist Church in Oxford.

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