It’s one of those times that I need to write as a devotional exercise.
After a week of subzero temps tomorrow promises to begin a week of beautiful weather and highs above freezing here in Minneapolis. This means little things like improved visibility at intersections since 8-foot snow piles will begin melting. It makes me think of Aslan coming to break the power of winter.
I’m feeling the same way in my own heart. But I’ve gotten so used to winter that I’m afraid to hope there’s any real spring coming. I haven’t been satisfied with who I am as a Christian since before I got married. I haven’t loved walking the Christian road since sometime during Mike’s and my engagement. It’s all felt just about the way I feel about winter here in Minnesota. Barely alive and no motivation to improve. Just cope. I can tally up reasons, but to name them is unimportant if I know what they are and can discern the way they’re playing in my sanctification.
Could spring really be coming in my own heart after such a winter of depression, cynicism, mediocrity, and sin? Everything I know about faithfulness as a Christian tells me that the answer is really up to me. I have no doubt that the Spirit is there, working, but I’ve barely cared lately. A few times in the last couple weeks He’s gotten my voluntary, joyful allegiance when I least expected. Submission, you could say, has come crashing through all the spiritual clutter and gotten the better of me. Pride has been close at hand to make me resent any victories but somehow I think I’m growing past it.
Feebly I’ve prayed in the last couple months for God to soften my heart: “Smite the Rock,” as Rosetti wrote. Every Lord’s Day my pastor seems to be on a soapbox about the importance of loving Christ. I think that’s done the trick for me, because with every Lord’s Day has come my own recognition that lack of love for Christ is at the root of my deadness. I read the passion narratives unmoved. A tiny part of me shudders at such coldness, so to alleviate the guilt I pray that God would give me love for Christ. It’s not a noble prayer, it’s just a pathetic little prayer I know I need, like medicine, and somehow it sprouts its way through the freeze like so many little crocuses.
But as winter ends and spring comes soon it’s not just little buds in the snow, and no trace of the lifelessness is left to be found. I see the signs of spring in my own heart as certainly as I can see the causes and effects of winter in the past year or so. They are only buds and seeds now, but God is faithful, and He who begins a good work completes it, whether it’s sanctification or the annual Minnesota thaw. Every year spring comes. While there are no signs of spring out my window yet, just the anticipation of next week’s thaw has captured me with its sacramental significance: a physical sign for the spiritually weak.
So today I’m thanking God for letting me glimpse the first signs of spring in my heart while I’m still waiting anxiously to see them in the snow. I’m choosing to deny the cynicism that insists life in my soul will always be as drab and malnourished as it has been through my own rebellion this past year. Instead I’m forgetting what lies behind and pressing on to what lies ahead, praying for humility to live the beautiful, rich, happy Christian life that is characterized by love for Christ and love of virtue. It’s the life I’ve always wanted to give to my children and in spite of my apathy toward Christ and virtue, the Holy Spirit seems to be graciously coming to rule just in time that I don’t have to wish He’d returned before the parenting job had begun.