Winter in the Midwest can be brutal. Bitter cold goes right to your bones, driven down the plains by winds that howl and moan. We’re in the southern portion of America’s flatland, so the winters don’t linger as long as further north, but sometimes it seems like spring will never come. But eventually, every year, the trees begin to bud, the flowers start to blossom, and the green grass peeks up through the dead-brown stubble.
Seasons change, eventually. They always do.
This week marks a full year since we took our family and moved from NC to OK, and like winter turning to spring, it feels like a season is changing for us. I didn’t plan for my coming back to the blog to coincide with this timeline, but I can’t deny the fitting nature of it. I took a break from the blog (and social media) for the last two months, and it was a welcome and needed rest from both. I’m hesitantly putting my toe back in the water.
When I stepped back, I asked for prayer for us. I appreciate everyone who took a few moments to lift me and my family up. We needed (and still need) it. I wish I could say this season of Lent was full of amazing “quiet times”, epiphanies, dreams, and visions, yet like most things in life, it was quite ordinary. Good days, bad days, fruitful times and dry times, but you know what? I wouldn’t change it.
The slow, steady, ongoing work of the Holy Spirit continued in my heart and in my wife. He has continued to heal old hurts, pull up bitter roots, challenge our self-centeredness and continually draw us to the love of Christ in the Gospel. The good work He began in us continues, all thanks be to God (Philippians 1:6). And that’s as it should be, right? We all want to live on the mountaintop, but so much of life is lived in the space between the summit and the valley.
Seasons and valleys.
A few weeks ago, Amanda and I had a chance to have a date night. As we sat outside on an unseasonably warm midwestern spring evening, I shared with her that it felt like a long, cold winter was coming to an end. I told her it felt like the warm winds of spring were beginning to blow, that a change was taking place. I feel as though we have come through a deep valley and are coming into open spaces again.
We talked about a passage of Scripture the Lord brought us both to, like many times before, separately. It’s a simple passage stuck in the middle of the Old Testament book of Ezra, yet the Holy Spirit spoke so clearly to us both through it:
“Now in the second year after their coming to the house of God at Jerusalem, in the second month, Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak made a beginning, together with the rest of their kinsmen, the priests and the Levites and all who had come to Jerusalem from the captivity.” (Ezra 3:8)
Like those exiles returning to Jerusalem, we’ve been in this land we were called to for a year. Through many trials and tears, many ups and downs, we have come into a broad place (Psalm 31:8), a place where we never thought we’d be, but also a place we know, deep within our bones, is the exactly where He has set us. And like those exiles, it’s time to start moving forward.
Like the first warm day after the endless cold of winter, I can feel the seasons changing. Not in some big, crazy way, but slowly, almost imperceptibly. Like the increase of daylight as winter gives way to spring, a change so gradual you hardly know it’s happening, until one day you realize it’s still light outside at 8:30 pm.
I’m writing this on Easter Sunday 2018 with the sure hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ burning deep in my bones. It’s a hope that reassures us of our place at His table, of our adoption as the sons and daughters of the Father, of the Spirit at work within us. The sure hope of daily taking up our cross and walking with Him, and invitation given to each of us. It feels really good to get up each day and knowing His mercies are new, and He’s there waiting to begin again.
Like winter to spring.
(If you want to follow along with us, can I encourage you to sign up for updates via email? I honestly don’t know how involved I’m going to be on social media (that’s a post for another day), so if you’re interested in following our journey, the best way to find out what’s going on and not have it buried in your newsfeed is to sign up!)