It was a sharp and cold yet bright winter day on my grandparents’ farm outside Salem, Oregon; a glorious Christmas morning. My grandpa’s dog Bo followed me as I walked down the driveway, past the barn, and turned onto the path leading to the orchard.
My family had just said goodbye to my grandpa. His story on earth had ended. As I walked through the orchard, the apple, pear, plum, and cherry trees were bare and silent, in the peaceful, sleeping way of trees in the winter. Their time of harvest and work had finished—now they were resting, anticipating spring, the season of awakening.
Where the trees cast shadows, the grass glistened with frost and crunched beneath my boots. Yet where the sun’s rays reached between the shadows, the grass shone green and damp, clean and fresh. In the dead of winter, a sign of spring. Of new life still to come.
Life ends, but as we see in the image of springtime emerging from winter, life does come again, renewed. Our world goes through a series of endings and beginnings—a constant cycle of winter and spring, death and new life. This is a gradual process, and some winters seem unwilling to let go. But each year, our Creator proves faithful and spring comes yet again. You lose a job and start another. You move from one place and begin a new life somewhere else. This winter, I lost my grandpa, and my cousin gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Beginning, end, beginning, end.
The cycle of spring offers a vibrant picture that can deepen our understanding of Jesus’ death and resurrection—the defining moment of human history and the main event talked about throughout the Bible. Jesus came into our world as a human—and not only as a human, but as an innocent newborn baby, the epitome of new life and hope for the future. He lived a holy life of love and faithfulness to God. His disciples had hope that this man was the one who would bring peace to the world, but then—he died! At that moment the world was plunged into darkness, and the disciples gave up all hope.
But wait! The story did not end here—just as the long nights of winter don’t last forever. Three days later, Jesus’ followers discovered the entrance to his tomb was open, and it was empty: Jesus was alive. Death could not hold him. With this burst of life, our future changed forever. Our rejection of God’s loving authority in our lives had separated us from God, but because Jesus took our punishment, God no longer sees our mistakes when he looks at us. Instead, he sees the sacrifice Jesus made and looks upon us as his children. Our sin has been wiped away, so we can have life again. As Peter writes in 1 Peter 1:3 NIV, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Jesus himself says, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die” (John 11:25-26 NIV). With this, we see that the greatest promise the Bible gives us is the promise of spring: that life will ultimately overcome death.
God’s resurrection power—bringing life from death, good from bad—didn’t end with Jesus’ resurrection. It is constantly at work today, as God works to bring us out of the winters of our old lives into the spring of a life lived following him. This is a process of renewal. 2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV reads, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” God’s resurrection power was not available to only Jesus, but also to those who believe in Jesus, as he daily helps us to throw off our old selfish, prideful selves.
With this enthusiasm for spring, it might surprise you to know that winter is actually my favorite season. There are many reasons for this—I love snow and Christmas, and my birthday is in December. I love skiing and scarves and clear winter nights. Nothing makes me feel alive quite like the first sharp prick of chilly winter air.
But perhaps most of all, I love the quiet, breathless anticipation that comes with winter. Sometimes on a cold winter night, standing outside in a hushed snowy world, it seems as if Creation is just waiting. Waiting to wake up from hibernation, for its Creator to return, and to begin new life in a glorious rush of greenery and bright color.
In The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, a young girl named Lucy discovers the magical land of Narnia. However, all is not right in this land. The evil White Witch has frozen Narnia in constant winter for 100 years. But the creatures of Narnia do have hope, in the form of a prophecy: “Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight / At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more / When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death / And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.” When the lion Aslan—who represents Jesus—does at last return to Narnia, the land awakens. The snows melt, the rivers flow, and the trees blossom.
In a larger sense, like the creatures of Narnia, we are all in a perpetual winter. It seems day by day, we are continuously reminded of just how fallen our world is. Sobering reports roll in on a daily basis of violence and injustice, dishonesty and pride. If Jesus had never come to earth, we would have no hope beyond this darkness. But just like the frosts and darkness of winter give way each year to the new life and colors of spring, so one day our entire world will be made new because Jesus overcame death. In God in the Dock, Lewis writes, “To be sure, it feels wintry enough still: but often in the very early spring it feels like that. The spring comes slowly down this way; but the great thing is that the corner has been turned.”
The corner has been turned—we are on our way to eternal spring.
In the book of Revelation, the disciple John has a vision in which God shows him the new heaven and earth, where God’s followers will be with him forever. “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away,” writes John in Rev 21:1 NIV. God tells him, “Behold I am making all things new” (Rev 21:5 ESV).
This new heaven and earth will be one of continual life and worldwide peace; a place where “the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den” (Isaiah 11:6-8 ESV).
Someday, our whole world will be renewed in this “final spring.” In the months to come, I encourage you to spend some time thinking about the changing of the seasons. What wintry landscapes exist in your life that require the warmth of God’s resurrection power? Maybe it’s a relationship you thought broken beyond repair. Maybe it’s a temptation or addiction you can’t seem to overcome on your own. Or maybe it’s discouragement or fear of the future. Whatever the case, take heart in the fact that by believing in Jesus’ resurrection and accepting God’s forgiving grace, we can pass into a new season of life: a season of spring.
As we enter springtime and look forward to Easter Sunday, let’s rejoice in and give thanks for the glorious resurrection of which springtime reminds us. Jesus’ resurrection is not just ancient history; it is played out day by day in Creation and in our very lives. When we see cherry trees blossoming, crocuses and tulips sprouting from the ground, and birds beginning to sing again, we can choose to face the future with joy because we know these beautiful sights are just dim reflections of the renewed world to come.