Winter in England brings out descriptive words of dark, grey, cold, and damp. Before 25th December, bad weather is tolerated since the anticipation of Christmas festivities outweighs the annoyance of dreary, cold weather. But after Christmas and especially into January and February, I long for signs of spring.
It’s not been a particularly cold winter, but it has been very grey and rainy at times, yet the children are still wondering if any snow will come this year! This week, nature’s little encouragements have been coming out. With significantly more sunshine this week, our garden and gardens around our town are showing signs of new life. Colourful bulbs of snowdrops, daffodils, and crocuses are starting to emerge, transitioning us slowly from winter to spring. Not only do I physically long for spring but my heart and soul need to be awakened and thawed out.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.Psalm 51:12
In Psalm 51, before David asked God to restore to his heart the joy of salvation, he asked God to, “Create in me a pure heart, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (v. 10) David then asked that he would not be taken from God’s presence, nor the Holy Spirit. (v. 11) After he repented and asked for mercy, he asked that the joy of being saved by Jesus would be restored in his heart. Maybe our sins aren’t as drastic as David’s (adultery and murder), but sin is sin and acts to block our focus on the Father. Stress, worries, distractions, how we spend our money and time can all contribute to feeling drained and depleted. As we acknowledge our sin and ask forgiveness, God cleanses us and refreshes us to be close with Him and to do life together.
On my walk to the school gate recently, the afternoon sun was out and I quickly took a photo (above) of the lovely bulbs with their green shoots pushing up from the ground as if to say, “Don’t despair! There’s hope… spring is coming!” Our hearts, similar to the hard cold soil, can become hardened and calloused throughout life’s everyday demands and stress. Yet God desires our hearts to be softened, so His bulbs of hope can emerge for ourselves and everyone around us.
Psalm 23 which starts out, “The Lord is my shepherd,” is very well known and one I’ve often taken comfort in. But sometimes, I can get too familiar with a verse or Bible passage, thinking I know it all. God kindly humbles me to see His Word with a fresh perspective and I can read something that touches my heart specifically for the current moment. The nugget of truth focused on this week was from verse 3 especially, “He refreshes my soul.”
He leads me beside still waters, he refreshes my soul.Psalm 23:2b-3a
It was delightful to feel the bright warm, sun on my face this week. I can’t help but say, “More please!” Growing up in the Golden State, sunshine has such a way about lifting one’s mood. But whether this is just an early taste of spring with more wintry weather over the next few months, or if we are truly heading into warmer weather, I want to live in God’s ability to completely refresh my soul. Just like feeling warm sunshine on my face is uplifting, so God’s nurturing of our hearts brings true refreshment so we can have life to the full. (John 10:10)