March is a funny month, in like a lion, out like a lamb and all that… we here in Colorado enjoy warm days and blizzards all in one weekend at times. I’m a seasonal girl, I love the flow of one season to the next, and I get as excited for fall as I do for summer. Winter is harder though, once Christmas passes I kind of lose my mojo. The rhythm feels a little off, there isn’t much to be excited about when the sun sets at 5:30. March brings a little change though, something is on the horizon: Target puts out their cheery spring decor. Under all that sloppy snow some green shoots are beginning to poke out of the ground. My boys are getting restless with school and starting to talk about their summer plans. I’m aching to just make it to spring break vacation so my pale self can soak up some warm sun. March makes me start to search for springtime.
I was honored to get to review Christine Hoover’s new book Searching For Spring because it addresses one of the very cries of my heart… how can we find beauty in the winter of our lives? Are we meant to just hunker down and pray for spring, or does God actually have something beautiful for us in the midst of our winter waiting? Using Ecclesiastes 3 as a backdrop, Christine takes us on a sensory journey through the seasons as God created them and reminds us that we can’t place all our hope in decaying things, but rather in a God who has promised to make all things new in their time.
Admittedly, I am not a fan of the popular Christian-ish idea that “life is messy and broken! embrace your big messy broken life!” That little mantra covers real sin up as no big deal and makes a mockery of the redemption story. This book does a beautiful job of addressing the truth of our current brokenness while providing us with hope that there is a light at the end of this dark tunnel. It was refreshing to see the whole picture presented. Hoover does a beautiful job weaving together the truth that while we live in a broken world, we belong to a Savior that has promised to make all things beautiful, including our “inconsolable things” as she calls them, the things that simply will not be made whole in this lifetime.
I look out my window and see bare trees, dried up grass and the remnants of last summers raspberry patch. It looks just awful right now, but I don’t wake up lamenting the barrenness of it all because I know something is happening down in places I can’t see. In a few weeks I’ll be able to see tiny buds on the raspberry stalks. A rogue wildflower will pop up in the backyard. God wants us to recognize that drumbeat, that rhythm He has created in our lives as well. It’s hard sometimes to see any beauty in our long winters, but we must not believe it isn’t there. His creation knows it: there will soon be a nest on my front porch, the geese at our little pond will disappear for another year, the black bear in the ravine will poke his head out into the sun and start to roam. Because life continues on.
We need to act in a way that honors God’s rhythms. “To everything there is a season” He tells us, but how often do we demand a perpetual spring or summer?
“Perhaps you’re waiting for something to be made beautiful. What can you do in the meantime? Give yourself to creative good. Give your life to love and serve in the ways you’ve been gifted. Draw your own perspective back to the small beauties of everyday life.” (page 196)
Just like nature renews itself through death and new life, so must we. Jesus never told us life would be a perpetual summer, in fact we are assured that sometimes there will be suffering. We don’t need to run from it, and we aren’t exactly supposed to embrace it either, we are to walk with Jesus where He leads. There’s a beautiful part of the book where Hoover talks about faith in the “minor keys” and how that rubs us the wrong way, because the minor keys aren’t natural, they call us to repent and lay down the selfish parts of ourselves. We like life to be in the major keys because it just feels right and good. She does a great job showing us how we need both, just like winter and summer.
“We’re made to be beauty seekers but too often we’re merely surviving. We are restless from a lack of wonder and sometimes we’re pierced by more than just restlessness; depression, anxiety, apathy, bitterness, and hopelessness. We exist in a crafted busyness where we attempt to silence our heart’s craving. What is the point of seeking beauty anyway? Why awaken our hearts to the risk of emotion when life’s pain is too deep?
Because beauty is the most potent weapon we have with which to fight back.”
What a blessing and what a relief. Beauty amidst ugliness. Beauty in wintertime. Hope that our spring is coming and that Jesus has made and is continuing to make all things new.
Here’s a link for the book if you’d like to check it out, it was a huge blessing for me and has me getting out some of those Easter decorations already… enjoy friends!