For behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. Song of Solomon 2:11,12
Driving around my neighborhood, I see people out in the yard with trays of annuals, pyramids of fresh soil, and garden tools strewn about. There are printed signs in other yards that declare a renovation project is about to begin. It looks like everybody is ready for a fresh beginning.
I don’t know where to start. Should I work on the front courtyard with its large decorative pots? Should I go to the back garden that needs a touch of color? Would I be better served by just giving everything a thorough cleaning? A new season of nature provides the opportunity for us to give everything a fresh look. And any day can be a new beginning in our spiritual lives.
I love Paul’s admonition to “forget those things which are behind and reach forth unto those things which are before” (Phil. 3:13). Our spiritual lives also have seasons—what about moving into a time of spiritual renewal, of letting go of the past (even the good things), to see what God has for us at this time? He has already said that “goodness and mercy will follow” us all the days of our lives. Essentially, our past failures are graced by him, so we can let them go. And in letting go, our arms are open to embrace this new thing that he wants to do in us.
Might God want to heal those wounds that we’re not quite ready to release? Do you remember the man at the pool of Bethesda who had been ill for thirty-eight years? He kept coming to the pool hoping he would be cured, and then Jesus asks him a curious question, “Do you want to be made well?” (John 5:6) Could it be that his illness became his point of identity just as our pain and suffering single us out? The man had to make a choice—give up the known for what faith had to offer. Jesus asks us the same question: “Do you want to be made well?” Do we want to become whole in him so that the attention (and glory) move from our pain to his plan?
In this new season, might God want us to forgive that grudge we’ve nurtured for decades? We all know the futility of unforgiveness, and yet we sometimes cling to wrongs from ancient history. (I remember Catherine Marshall’s writing that she had to forgive Henry VIII for his villainy.) Forgiveness is a good thing to practice in this new season.
Forgetting the past and pressing on to God’s promise for the future… Spring is a good time for new beginnings. We are new creations with the Holy Spirit constantly working in us to make us more like Jesus. Why not put away all those things “that hinder and the sin that so easily entangles” (Heb. 12:1) and joyously move into a new beginning?
It’s about time.
Father of all things, we ask that you help us to get rid of everything past that hinders us from moving into this new season with you. We don’t want the tiniest thing to hold us back. Strengthen us with all goodness to live in you and to do your will. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.