“See! The winter is past; …. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me.”
(Song of Solomon 2:11-13)
Winter is nearly upon us here and the temperatures and leaves are falling fast. Elsewhere in the world Spring has arrived. I am reminded of another Spring.
I was returning from a very special teaching mission in a parish 400 kilometres closer to the equator. There the days, and especially the nights, were warmer. The cherry trees were on the point of bursting into blossom, whilst huge banks of azaleas already covered with heavy flowers brooded vibrantly in the sun. The lakes were full of rippling blue water, and the birds sang from morning until evening when the misty mountains paled into blue and the sounds of the night took over. There did indeed appear to be new life, and a new vitality, all around.
It was a wonderful time to be speaking on the glory of Christ – who is, who was and who is to come. This Lord and Saviour is the One through whom all things were made. He formed them and gave them life. Indeed, he tells us that He is Life, and from that Life he gives us new life by taking our death into Himself. For those who believe, the winter of isolation is past, new ‘flowers’ should be appearing in our lives and, because of the downpour of love that the Father has for us, tears may give way to singing.
There is an enormous difference between a cherry tree before the blossoms appear and one after they are there. The bare tree is, normally, not one of great beauty or significance. The tree covered with flowers is a sight to take your breath away. When there are groves of such trees, spreading over the banked azaleas, it is a prospect some people travel hundreds of kilometres to see. Unlike our Christmas trees the decorations are not ones that have been used before. They are wonderfully new, fresh and lovely. It makes no difference how old, gnarled, or even deformed the tree might be – the blossoms are stunning and the eye does not even look at the form beneath them. It is to me as if the Lord has reached out to the naked and rough-skinned tree and said with a smile, “Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me.” And, as the tree lifts its downcast eyes and responds, the new and fragrant beauty bursts forth and clothes it with a glory that is unimaginable. If this picture is true in nature, as the God who ordained Spring passes by – how much more true and wonderful as He reaches out His hand to us. We are the beloved of God, the Bride of Christ, we the ones whom He has clothed in righteousness, cleansed by the very blood that flowed from His battered form. It does not matter what our age or condition. As we reach out to the love and hand extended to us, new life is our gift.
“But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation– if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel.” (Colossians 1:22-23)
We sometimes insist on a pre-occupation with the tired and battered old form and person. God is intent on the new. Paul urges us to ‘put on the new’ – accept it, appropriate it, be it! However you are, accept the hand and the invitation,
“Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me….the winter is past.”
Don’t focus on the enemy – focus on the Saviour.
Lord, please continue to pour Your love into me. Help me to stand up and go with You, in the beauty of the Life that You give to me. Amen.