The Last of Winter, the First of Spring

According to the calendar, spring has arrived, but in western South Dakota, we know better than to put too much store in that! For us, winter lingers sometimes into June, but we’ve begun to taste the springtime and I’m itching for those warmer temperatures, those springtime tasks, mud instead of ice, warm dirt, growing things, and baby animals!

Our relatively mild winter was punctuated with days and weeks of unseasonable warmth, and then punctuated again with unseasonable, bitter cold. And, as always, it starts to feel like it has always been winter, sometime around the middle of February. Those little tastes of springtime that tantalize and taunt us every year, tease us with the warmth that is so close, so close. And we are so ready for springtime, and we’re praying for rain, or a good spring snowstorm to bring some much-needed moisture to the parched landscape.

Of all the seasonal changes, perhaps the most bewildering and wonderful is the change from winter to spring, from the time of slumber and death to a time of waking and birth, from a time of fading to a time of renewal, from surviving to thriving, a time of preparation and planning to a time of action and initiation.

Everything that is easy to accomplish in warm weather is a challenge in the winter, especially when the temperatures plummet and snow and ice freeze us in. A five-minute outdoor task takes fifteen minutes to prepare for inside, and twenty minutes to warm back up after coming inside again. A snowstorm wreaks havoc on travel when you live 30 miles outside of town, or your driveway is a mile long. The ground is frozen solid, everything seems poised to break, the cold creeps into the house until the best way to get some heat going is by turning on the oven and opening the door. An unfortunate calf born in the middle of a frigid cold snap is a struggle to keep alive.

And through the sleepiness and struggle of winter, we dream of spring. We dream of spring, and begin preparing. Gardens are planned, seeds are ordered, harvests are imagined, and a million other projects start forming in the mind, ready to send into action when the cold snap breaks, or when the snow is gone, or when the ground melts. Ranchers watch their cows get heavier and heavier, and pray for a good calving season.

And then at last, spring arrives. We see it on the calendar, and we see a 10 days at time of forecasts for temperatures in the 40s, 50s, and 60s. We see the first shoots of green grass. We feel the first raindrops. We feel the first truly warm breezes and smell the earth warming up. Rock-hard, icy ground turns into a mud slick, and how wonderful the mud smells! The multiple layers of jackets and sweaters diminish to the ease of a shirt and light jacket, stocking caps are replaced with ball caps, and I always cherish the first day I can wear a tank top and sandals!

The garden beds begin to soften under their preparatory layer of plastic. The first load of laundry is hung on the clothesline outside. The first meadowlarks appear. Seeds are started. Those calves that were unlucky enough to be born into the cold snap are now a month old, frisky, and thriving.

What a transformation!

In the winter, we are forced to slow down. It is a sabbath of seasons, in a sense. We are forced to slow down from the seemingly self-sufficient business of the rest of the year and only do those things that are necessary, limited by the cold, the frozen ground, the shorter days. It is an exercise in trusting God for the day-to-day necessities in the day-to-day struggles. And then in the springtime, God turns that trust into joyful action.

Happy springtime, friends! And pray for rain!

2021 | A Year in Review

The last time I did a year in review was at the beginning of 2020, and apparently 2020 was crazy enough I never felt like doing a year in review following it. I was rereading a few posts from that timeframe, the beginning of that year, and had to chuckle to myself. 2020 began with so much optimism, and a few short months later the world was turned upside down. We can plan and dream all we want, but if we aren’t planning and dreaming with the heart conviction that God is the One Who is ultimately ordering and ordaining everything, we are bound to be disappointed. Massively.

But if, on the other hand, we look ahead with eagerness to embrace whatever it might be that God brings about, we will be ready for that time of growing and challenge.

This March 1st marked seven years since we drove up to this little cabin I’m sitting in now, unpacked ourselves, and called this place home. Seven years. In Biblical contexts, the number seven is associated with perfection and completion. How fitting.

As I think about the seven years since moving to South Dakota, it occurs to me that every year has been fraught with challenges. This last year has been, however, the year of the most stark extremes, sometimes the extremes interwoven and indistinguishable.

The year began with massive change and ended with massive change. It began in a sense of chaos yet confidence, and ended in a sense of…well, a different kind of chaos and confidence. My world got turned upside down a year ago, and got turned upside down again in December. But the year that began with a knuckling down and facing the future head-on has ended in a peaceful and optimistic outlook on the coming years. Loneliness and contented resignation have been replaced by companionship and peace. A lonely heart warmed. An empty hand clasped tight. Unkissed lips tasting the sweetness of a kiss. The future’s uncertainty no longer looks bleak. Emptiness has been filled up.

I began working fulltime as a firefighter-medic for a city fire department in January of last year, while up to my ears in paramedic school. Talking about one’s world being turned upside down. Although I have it on good authority that others have had it much worse in paramedic school, I’m honestly not sure how I managed to survive those months, other than because “you can do anything short term.”

All too often, a 24 hour shift on the ambulance (probably not sleeping) would be followed by 24 hours to recover and hit my books hard, followed by 12 or 24 hours of clinicals or ambulance ride time, and then back to my regular 24 hour shift. At times I was driving an hour and a half to start a student shift at 6:30 in the morning, dealing with the uncertainties of weather and bad roads. Also, as I was able, I was also responding to calls for the volunteer department I serve on. Incidentally, it was on one such fire in February, a cold, nasty haybale fire, that I learned the important fact that a certain rancher (another volunteer firefighter) I’d always admired was as single as I was. Whaddya know.

I finished up paramedic school in June, and went into the summer with a sense of relief that that was over, and already bracing for the next thing, a three-month long fire academy that would take me out of my routine, away from my colleagues and partners, off the streets where I was becoming very comfortable as an EMT and new paramedic, and put me through the ringer physically and mentally. I braced for that and prepped physically.

As my summer rolled to a close, those sparks from the haybale fire in February finally kindled a flame. God brought into my life in the most timely of ways the kindest and most supportive man I’ve ever met. Never in a thousand years had I expected to find someone so well suited for me, or to whom I was so well suited. We enjoyed roughly a month of almost uninterrupted courtship, with my every-third-day 24-hour shift the only interruption. We made the most of that time. We enjoyed beautiful weather, coffee before my shifts, hiking, working cows, and countless other things, and in three weeks our relationship had deepened beyond what I would have thought possible in months or years. In a matter of a few weeks, I had a best friend, a favorite person, and I knew without the shadow of a doubt that I’d marry him. And I mean without the shadow of a doubt. I’ve never known something with such certainty.

The fire academy started at the end of August and finished up at the end of November. It was three intense months that left me exhausted in more ways than one, and during which I am so thankful I had a kind, compassionate man to lean on. I went back on the streets as a paramedic in late November.

And in December, into all of the work-related craziness, that sweet, simplest love turned into a beautiful ring on my finger and a wedding to take place in June.

As I write this and think back over the last year, my mind is spinning a little. How very much can change in a year’s time! What exactly was I doing a year ago? What were my dreams, my hopes? Did I have any anymore? Or had I effectively sidelined many hopes and dreams for a career that often leaves people rung out and used up? Where did I picture myself, five years down the road? Was I excited? I know I was exhausted, exhausted but resolute, and determined to face the future head-on and conquer it. That’s not really the same as excited, or optimistic. Occasionally in conversation I refer to having made some “survival decisions,” and although that sounds a little dramatic, that was my frame of mind. The hope and optimism and peace that God has blessed me with through our courtship and into our engagement are balm to the soul. I’m no longer looking at the bleak-seeming future and trusting God for survival. I’m looking into the future, thanking God that I’m thriving.

And then I look back seven years and my mind spins a little more. But standing that far back, I can begin to see the bigger picture of God’s unfolding plan, the seeds planted then that have begun to bear fruit, the dreams and desires that have stirred in my soul for decades even, just now poking their little leaves above the soil of the garden of my life. Glancing back through pages of this blog, I see that again and again. I see hopes and desires spelled out or hinted at from 7 years ago, when I first started this blog, just now being answered and brought to life. Everything happens for a reason, and that reason ultimately is that we have a sovereign God who loves us and loves to do that which brings good to His children.

If you had told me a year ago that right now I’d be counting down the days until I marry the love of my life (88 days!), planning a garden, learning how to drive a tractor, eagerly waiting for an order of chicks to get here in April, helping my rancher in this calving season, buzzing around on four-wheelers with him checking cows and doing chores, and caring for little calves needing extra TLC, I’d have called you crazy. And yet.

One of my favorite quotes from C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia is when Susan, in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, asks Mr. and Mrs. Beaver if Aslan is a tame lion. The Beavers laugh and say to the children that of course he isn’t tame! But he is good. And then like Martin Luther’s chastisement of Erasmus, “Your thoughts of God are too human.” Our God is neither tame nor human. But He is good.

And so, what a crazy year it was. What a crazy, wonderful year.

A Merry Little Christmas

This Christmas wasn’t been “as planned” in any way, shape, or form. Initially, I was quite disappointed that I’d be having to work on Christmas Day, especially with a new fiance, a sister about to get married, and almost-inlaws to spend time with. I’ve been feeling pretty worn out and run down with work lately, and I wasn’t looking forward to a holiday week, during which I would be exhaustedly trying to keep up the energy to see people and share in the fun and joy of Christmastime while recovering from 24 hour shifts on an ambulance.

Well, a week ago I started feeling puny and got tested for Covid, at the request of my work. Sure enough, I had Covid and was promptly put on quarantine. My family wanted nothing to do with me, since there’s a wedding in two weeks, but my fiance also came down with Covid, and in God’s graciousness it was mild for both of us. We spent our first Christmas together after all.

We’ve already begun making traditions that we will carry into what we trust and pray will be a Christ-honoring marriage. We have been reading an Advent devotional since December 1, which I’m sure will become a tradition for us. We cut and decorated a beautiful spruce tree. We’ve watched It’s a Wonderful Life, and listened to a radio theatre adaptation of Charles’ Dickens beloved Christmas Carol. We’ve baked, and cooked, and worked on a wintry puzzle, a birthday gift to me from his mom. And our Christmas Day, though not what either of us would have chosen, was likewise delightful.

We made crepes for brunch, with homemade yogurt and the last jar of my homemade plum jam from a few summers ago. We also had homemade ricotta cheese and sausage that my rancher man and his brother-in-law made. It was a lovely start to the day. We finished our puzzle, drank coffee, exchanged gifts, went on a walk, made wedding plans, and ate a wonderful dinner of pork roast, grilled cabbage and sweet potatoes, and rice pilaf. We finished the day watching Murder on the Orient Express, an excellent movie for a winter evening.

This Christmas and holiday season is challenging for a lot of people right now. So many people are sick, and beloved Christmas plans and traditions have gotten sidelined in an effort to keep people as healthy as possible. But if those temporary disturbances distract us from the truth of Christmastime and steal our joy, we have repenting to do. The fact of the matter is that the God of the Universe willingly gave up the comfort and perfection of Heaven to stoop to become a mortal man, for the express purpose of dying a grusome death on our behalf, to give us a salvation we could never earn. Don’t let either the enjoyment of this time of year, or the disappointment either, distract you from that.

In spite of everything, this was indeed a Merry Little Christmas.

A Hand to Hold

My heart has always been drawn to and touched most by those simple things. Those moments of pure sweetness. Those sights of pure beauty. A flower just so in the sunlight. An arrangement of old lanterns and colored glass on an end table. One single brightly-colored autumn tree in a sea of pines. A summer hike. A starlit snowy night. A warm cup of coffee and a cat on my lap. Wild fruit on tangled branches. A shelf lined with bright, sparkling jars of hand-harvested, homemade jam. The smell of sweat or the pages of old books. A well-lived-in home. The comfortable, worn seats of a dusty old work truck. A simple, nourishing, homemade meal.

Sin has complicated our existence. It complicates everything. It complicates love.

Compromise complicates love. Selfishness complicates love. Desperation complicates love. Fear complicates love. Mistrusting God complicates love. We strive and weep and lust and wallow in our loneliness, and think that a relationship born out of those things will bear good fruit.

But this is key: God is a God who loves us. And He is a Father who gives good gifts. He doesn’t always provide what we want or think we need. And He often uses waiting as a tool to cultivate our dependence upon Him and His goodness. He tests us with loneliness, with waiting. Will we thank Him for what He does provide, or will we be angry for what He doesn’t provide? Will we trust Him in joy and not in sorrow?

God is a God who loves us. He is also a God who doesn’t owe us anything. Any good we receive from God is good we haven’t earned, given by a Father who loves us. And any pain we receive from His hand is meant to make us more like Christ, from the hand of a Father who disciplines those whom He loves. And that pain of waiting, the pain of loneliness, the growth and humility and triumph of contentment and Christ-dependence, all serve to make God’s blessings, both the expected and the unexpected, that much sweeter. I wouldn’t know how to truly appreciate the sweetness God’s gifts if I didn’t also experience the bitterness of want. The best things wouldn’t be recognized so clearly if I hadn’t also seen those hard things, loneliness and isolation and disappointment and heartache and loss.

And so when God withholds something, we are to rejoice, and trust that He is withholding the desired object out of love for us. And when He provides, we rejoice…And then marvel at His provision.

My heart is so thankful. I am thankful that God saw fit to replace my loneliness with companionship, and my longing with love. What God provided, He provided in lavish simplicity, in abundant peacefulness. Without confusion, or question, or complication.

And it would make sense, wouldn’t it, that this simple country girl would love a simple country man?

God brought love in those best things, those simple things. Seven gallons of chokecherries picked together. A freshly cemented stock tank and a little sunburn on a hot August afternoon. Countless home-cooked meals on chipped dishes. Laughter over a game of cards. Bushels of apples from my grandpa’s apple trees. Baking pies for a pie auction. Arms wrapped around me and a peck on the cheek while I’m washing dishes. A hasty cup of coffee together out of his battered Stanley thermos, with the sun just cresting the horizon. Lively banter. Tears of sorrow and of joy. Companionable, comfortable silence. Tuneless whistling from under my car as he changes the oil. His smile at me over the backs of a hundred cows. His voice beside me singing hymns in church. The warmth of his strong hand in mine, that calloused, work-weathered hand.

So this simple country girl said Yes.

Yes, to a simple rancher man. Yes, to the best and kindest man I know. Yes, to a strong, gentle man. To a peaceful man. To a Godly man. To a flawed man with a perfect Savior. To a man who offers me his shoulder to cry on, his arms to hold me, his heart to love me, and his wisdom and faith to lead me. To my favorite person. To my best friend. To a hand to hold.

What simple love. What a kind God. What undeserved abundance.

Psalm 104

Bless the Lord, O my soul!
    O Lord my God, you are very great!
You are clothed with splendor and majesty,
    covering yourself with light as with a garment,
    stretching out the heavens like a tent.
Harney Peak on New Year's Day
He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters;
he makes the clouds his chariot;
    he rides on the wings of the wind;
he makes his messengers winds,
    his ministers a flaming fire.Calamity Peak, Custer SD5 He set the earth on its foundations,
    so that it should never be moved.
You covered it with the deep as with a garment;
    the waters stood above the mountains.
At your rebuke they fled;
    at the sound of your thunder they took to flight.Summer Storm IIThe mountains rose, the valleys sank down
    to the place that you appointed for them.
You set a boundary that they may not pass,
    so that they might not again cover the earth.IMG_5029e10 You make springs gush forth in the valleys;
    they flow between the hills;
11 they give drink to every beast of the field;
    the wild donkeys quench their thirst.IMG_4972ee12 Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell;
    they sing among the branches.
13 From your lofty abode you water the mountains;
    the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.IMG_3392esm14 You cause the grass to grow for the livestock
    and plants for man to cultivate,
that he may bring forth food from the earth
15     and wine to gladden the heart of man,
oil to make his face shine
    and bread to strengthen man’s heart.IMG_3481e16 The trees of the Lord are watered abundantly,
    the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
17 In them the birds build their nests;
    the stork has her home in the fir trees.
18 The high mountains are for the wild goats;
    the rocks are a refuge for the rock badgers.IMG_5038e19 He made the moon to mark the seasons;
    the sun knows its time for setting.
20 You make darkness, and it is night,
    when all the beasts of the forest creep about.IMG_311721 The young lions roar for their prey,
    seeking their food from God.
22 When the sun rises, they steal away
    and lie down in their dens.
23 Man goes out to his work
    and to his labor until the evening.IMG_8386e24 O Lord, how manifold are your works!
    In wisdom have you made them all;
    the earth is full of your creatures.
25 Here is the sea, great and wide,
    which teems with creatures innumerable,
    living things both small and great.
26 There go the ships,
    and Leviathan, which you formed to play in it.Bumblebee - bombus ternarius27 These all look to you,
    to give them their food in due season.
28 When you give it to them, they gather it up;
    when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
29 When you hide your face, they are dismayed;
    when you take away their breath, they die
    and return to their dust.
30 When you send forth your Spirit,they are created,
    and you renew the face of the ground.IMG_5350e31 May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
    may the Lord rejoice in his works,
32 who looks on the earth and it trembles,
    who touches the mountains and they smoke!
33 I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;
    I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
34 May my meditation be pleasing to him,
    for I rejoice in the Lord.
35 Let sinners be consumed from the earth,
    and let the wicked be no more!
Bless the Lord, O my soul!
Praise the Lord!IMG_9381

Thoughts from Quarantine

I’m sitting here on my sofa looking out at a world ready for springtime, though covered with a light dusting of very wet snow. Outside is the sound of dripping and trickling, that wonderful music of the waking spring. My feet have been sandal-clad, ready to be done with the cold, and my face is just getting a touch of tan after a snowshoeing sunburn last week. The grass is greening, the sky is by turns overcast, then bluer than blue, the wind is wonderfully sweet, and the perfume of warm pine needles on south facing slopes is intoxicating. I’ve already found my first teeny baby pasque flower, just starting to poke up through the pine needles on one particular hill I always check this time of year.

Spring is coming, the same way it always does when the winter is winding down. The exact same way it always does.

And yet, this year is different.

Because of fear.

Nearly two weeks ago, panic came to rural Western South Dakota, and to our whole nation. Covid-19 is now a household world, as familiar as the common cold. This was definitely not something I ever anticipated, definitely not something I’d “planned” for, definitely not something I’d looked forward to. I never thought I’d be prepping to teach music lessons remotely because of “social distancing” recommendations. I never thought I’d be off work with the fire department for two weeks because of symptoms I wouldn’t normally give two thoughts about. I never thought I would be going on three weeks without meeting with my church family for our weekly service and Bible studies.

This time of year, my students are in the home stretch of their lessons, as we have the last five or so weeks of lessons before the end of the year recital. Very likely, we won’t have a recital this year. Fire department trainings should start gearing up for the wildland fire season, with pack testing and refresher courses. But pack testing has been put on hold, and trainings have been cancelled or modified for distance learning. Easter is right around the corner, with anticipated family get togethers and church family celebrations. But with groups of more than ten people forbidden, that will be very different this year. Everyone is itching to get outside, to enjoy being together. Seasonal restaurants should begin opening for business, tourists should start trickling in. The delight of springtime often involves other people. The delight of life itself so often is the togetherness. And that togetherness has been replaced by fear, mistrust, and isolation.

But national and international panic results in some pretty unimaginable things.

I can’t begin to imagine the number of people without work right now, who already are living paycheck to paycheck, with financial fears and health fears hanging over them. I have nothing to complain about, in the big scheme of things. I’ll feel it, but I’ll be alright. Not everyone is so fortunate.

I will abstain from making any political comments one way or the other about the nature of this crisis or how well it warrants the level of concern we’ve given it. We’ve had enough misinformation from the media and idiotic comments from armchair physicians who suddenly know everything about a pandemic. But please understand that I am concerned, particularly for those who are the most vulnerable. But what has struck me and continues to strike me is the level of fear, blame, panic, anger, selfishness, and fear-mongering I have been witnessing for the last two weeks. The fear is driving people to do irrational things (don’t even get me started on the toilet paper shortage).

People fear because they don’t know another option.

The way the world handles a crisis will be (should be) drastically different from how a Christian handles a crisis. Should there be a sense of urgency? Absolutely. Should there be concern, particularly for those who are most vulnerable? Absolutely. Should there be sorrow over the loss of life? Absolutely.

But if you study your Bible, you understand several things that should drive you away from the cliff edge panic and into the security of the arms of Jesus Christ.

First, we shouldn’t be surprised at sickness and famine and heartache. We live in a world that is wracked by the effects of the sin of mankind. All one needs to do is take a quick, cursory glance at history to see that sickness and famine and heartache are normal. Obviously, a global-scale pandemic causes more concern than other types of sickness, but at the end of the day, a pandemic is sickness. Sickness is a normal part of living in a fallen world. Jesus is recorded having told His disciples in all three of the Synoptic Gospels that famines, earthquakes, pestilence and war would wrack the end times, the time between His Resurrection and His Second Coming (Matt. 24, Mark 13, Luke 21). So in a sense we should be encouraged. We should be encouraged because events like this pandemic speak to the veracity of Scripture. Two thousand years may seem like a long time to wait for Jesus to come again, but these events of worldwide proportion speak to where we are in history: we are right on track, whether that track lasts another two minutes or another ten millennia. God keeps His promises. His Word is true.

Second, the Believer has no need to fear death. Paul expresses the exquisite tension that the Believer in Christ should feel, when it comes to facing death or the possibility of death: For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain….I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. (Philippians 1: 21, 23) For the Christian, not only should we not fear death or the possibility of death, but we should recognize that death is the final door that ushers us into eternity with Jesus. Obviously I am not advocating for a mindset that obsesses over death or flirts with death or is reckless, but we absolutely should not live in fear of death. For the Christian, we have nothing to lose and everything to gain by going to be with Jesus. If we are to fear, we should fear for those who may die without ever coming to Christ in repentance and faith. In Matthew 10:28, Jesus said, “and do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” There is something much worse than dying, much worse than financial hardship, much worse than world upheaval and economic collapse. That is not being right with God when we die.

Third, God is ultimately in control of all of this. Matthew 10:29 reads, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.” If the God of the universe sees and values even the life of a sparrow, how much more does He see us and value us, the pinnacle of His Creation! Romans 8:28-29 tells us, And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…” The difficulties a Believer experiences aren’t just unfortunate events that God will somehow figure out how to recycle. They are intended, brought about, to accomplish a greater purpose. That purpose may be as simple as causing us to trust Him more. Think of the story of Joseph in the Book of Genesis, sold in to slavery by his own brothers, who could later tell his brothers in Genesis 50:15-21 that the evil that they did to him was brought about by God to accomplish a greater purpose. Throughout the Bible, we see the pattern very clearly that God doesn’t just work with events and somehow figure out a way to make them work out for good. God isn’t taking lemons and making cosmic lemonade. We actually see that God is, in a way we can’t fully understand, the author even of calamity. Isaiah 45:7 reads: I form light and create darkness; I make well-being and create calamity; I am the Lord, who does all these things.” God says this of Himself. If this gives you heartburn, consider this: either God is all powerful, or He isn’t. If He isn’t, He isn’t worth serving. If He is, there are two options. Either He evil and malicious and diabolically brings about evil things (not the God of the Bible), or He is so wonderfully good and perfect, He can state this truthfully:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

We may not understand why God allows or ordains horrific events. We can get down into the weeds of First Causes and Second Causes, and debates about how sovereign God actually is. But the way I understand it, either God is sovereign or He isn’t. I believe He is. Sovereign is sovereign. Not partially sovereign. Not selectively sovereign. Either of those would mean He isn’t truly sovereign. Either God is good or He isn’t. I believe He is. Not mostly good. Not usually good. Either of those would mean He isn’t truly good. And I can trust a good, sovereign God. And I can submit myself to Him, knowing that His ways and thoughts are much higher than my ways and thoughts.

Fourth, the world WILL END when God commands it to end; not a moment sooner, not a moment later. By that token, the world WILL CONTINUE for as long as God ordains it to continue. We can neither hasten the day, nor delay it. In Genesis 8, God made a promise to Noah that He would never again destroy the earth by a flood, and this beautiful verse is nestled in the midst of that promise: While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” (Genesis 8:22) God will sustain the earth until the time that He sees fit to bring it to an end. And in a time like this, when the whole world is panicking, that should be immensely encouraging. God is in the Heavens. He is in control.

So if you are afraid, whether for yourself or your loved ones, weather the fears are financial, or health, or general fears related to a world gone crazy, whether you fear the shortages and what desperate people do when things truly get desperate…Please be encouraged. Be encouraged that there IS a God in the Heavens, and that He cares for this creation. Don’t fear Covid-19. Fear God. Seek Him. There are promises in Scripture of common grace extended to all mankind (every breath we take is evidence of common grace), but there are so many wonderful promises and encouragements that aren’t yours if you don’t know and love Jesus as your Savior.

I’m so excited that spring is here. God’s work is beautifully visible in something so taken for granted as the change of seasons. We don’t give the seasons much thought, unless we get tired of one and are eager for the next. But God Himself sustains those seasons. We don’t worry that winter will never end, because we know that winter will end. That’s how it works. That is how God made it to work. That is how God sustains it to work. There is comfort in that. If God can sustain the seasons, the planets, the solar systems and galaxies, the tides and the orbit of the moon, the tiny workings of our body’s cells…then He can sustain the world through a pandemic, however severe. And even the resulting financial hardship that many of us will feel with loss of work is yet another wonderful opportunity to trust in God’s goodness and mercy and providence. Any opportunity to trust God is a good thing.

If you want a psalm to read that will brighten your heart, read Psalm 104. I’ll post it in its entirety in another post, but it is a beautiful psalm praising God for His power over and visible in Creation, how He is the one who brings about the seasons, the growth of plant life, sustaining the animal life, and on and on. Read it, and be encouraged.

And one last verse…Romans 8:35, 37-39:

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”