I must admit that I’m not one for making New Year’s resolutions. I love the crisp freshness that a New Year seems to bring with it. Not at all unlike freshly fallen snow, it deems the dry barrenness of a season’s close and cloaks it in a newness, preparing for something similar, though perhaps much unlike what has been seen before.
With the end of a year looming, it is only natural that one begins to think over the year passed and to hope of that which the new one will bring; much like as one does, expecting spring to soon come and thinking of the summer passed, all the while the snow still falls.
While my thoughts are not remiss with regards to this process, a ‘five-year plan’ is far from my vocabulary. In fact, when pressed with such a question, I can only admit to my hopes, without certainty. By all means, there can be plans, but I know, with certainty, that The LORD alone, will determine my steps, and thus whatever future I have will be whatever He wills.
I’m reminded of my time in the Netherlands. While images of bicycles, canals and windmills may flash through one’s mind, this modern-day Atlantis-of-sorts comes to my own for a different affair – the tulips.
Tulips are beautiful bulbs, much loved for their bright, bold colours quite attached to a structure of sweet simplicity. With Spring, they blossom and parade their brilliant hues quite proudly. Of course, they are entitled to such grandeur, as their former place in Dutch society strayed much further from merely adorning the ground; the bulbs were valued so, that they were actually used as currency!
I know very little of gardening. In fact, I can admit to being far from green-fingered. With animals, it’s a different story; though I’m sure only due to the fact that they can come to me or make some sort of noise, should they be in need of food or water or attention of some kind. Whereas plants, unfortunately, move very little if not at all, and I happen to forget of their existence. Nonetheless, I was informed of something, quite by chance about these motionless beings that I found rather intriguing:
Many plants count, of course, on the weather in order to grow: sunlight for energy and rain for water – though neither too little, nor too much, of either; likewise, wind and seasons pay their heed to influence. In the Northern Hemisphere, this is no different, but what surprised me was that the new seeds – or, in the case of tulips, bulbs – additionally needed something in particular in order to begin to grow. The frost.
Much like how a lioness knows instinctively how to hunt, with it being within her nature – these flowers await the frost, as a man awaits the answer to a proposal; not willing to move or alter circumstance until he has attained all he is wanting and waiting for. Only once the icy lace has spread about the ground and the plant trusts that spring certainly is on its way, will the flower-to-be take root and begin to grow.
Now, perhaps you knew this already, but if you’re anything like me, you might find that depiction something of an amazing image – the fact that something so delicate and beautiful might come up only after the harshest of experience. The newness may only arise after an ending and the freshness arrives after the covering of cleanliness.
How beautiful it is to think of Our Saviour, who, on Calvary’s mount, stretched out His arms to cover us; that the ending of His life on that cross, followed by His resurrection, became the start of the New Covenant, in which people may know God – The Creator – as a Father; and that the blood that He bled, in the harshest of deaths, brought about the most beautiful life.
Much like the tulips of Amsterdam, we, as people, are in great need of something like the frost; something that will cover us and bring about something new and fresh and good. Rather than a some-thing, however, we need Some-One; we need Jesus.
Life – like a flower – is delicate, bold, beautiful and fleeting; we are – dust to dust and ashes to ashes – here one day and gone the next. As the snow falls in January and I trust that the sun will shine warmer in July, I must trust that my year ahead rests in the Hands of the One who covers the earth in sunshine and blankets the ground in frost, so that, in a season soon to come, new life will spring up in abundance.
As He puts to rest the things of my past, He never fails to bring about a new thing. LAMENTATIONS 3:22-24 puts it like this:
‘Because of the LORD’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”’
How I long to be known for waiting on God – not in a passive sense, such as failing to act when someone needs something or if something needs be done, but for entrusting my unknown future to a Known God.
I don’t doubt that many a season we will each experience in our lives. There will be times of joy and times of sorrow; times to sing and times to be still. Though, in those harshest of seasons, where it seems that the frost has come to swallow up all that summer had so joyfully displayed, we ought to remember that without it, there could be no spring and no new life to look forward to. God is still at work.