Saturday, December 29, 2007

Think Spring -- Hope Chronicles 6

In 1989 I finished up my sophomore year of college. It was reasonably warm in southern Indiana. The first or second week in May, I headed north to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to InterVarsity Christian Fellowship's Cedar Campus. We were suppose to arrive, on Saturday. But for a reason that escapes me, my sister and friend and I couldn't leave until Saturday evening. We drove 16 hours through the night and got there just in time for worship Sunday morning. We were tired and a little ragged from the trip.

As we were driving we had to turn the heat on. On the other side of the 5 mile Mackinac Bridge, we were greeted with the sign, "Think Spring." Though it was warm where we came from, it was still a bit chilly in the UP.

Flash forward. It's Dec. 29th in central Illinois. It's cold and grey out. All the Christmas festivities are done. People are coming out of their turkey comas to discover that life on the the other side of Christmas isn't much different than life before Christmas -- with the exception of the amount of debt they are carrying. That, of course, has grown. If they had to go to work this week, the week seemed to drag on and on and on even though if was a "short" work week.

I've found myself feeling a little glum. From the way people around me have been acting, I think they have felt that way as well. So, what do these two stories have to do with each other. More than you might think!

Let's start with the present day. It might be easy to drift off into hopelessness. We are in for 3-4 more months of cold and gray skies. There aren't really any major holidays to break up the monotony. (Okay, there are things like Lincoln's Birthday and Martin Luther King Day -- but it really depends on where you work if you get to have those things off. And then there is Valentine's Day -- the ultimate Hallmark Holiday. But enjoying that one depends on if you are with someone or not. So, my point stands. There aren't any major holidays for everyone coming up soon.)

Even though it was May that year of the all night trek to camp, spring was slow in coming to the UP. And if I recall it correctly, it was gray.

But I like the outlook of those "uppers." They knew that spring was coming and they were focused on it. It's amazing that the image of that sign has stuck with me for so many years. I think of it now as an image of hope.

So, what are you focused on just past Christmas? Has the reason for the season been abandoned? Are you dismayed, as I often am, by how far you have yet to go in your spiritual life?

As Christians Paul tells us that the "hope of glory" resides in us. He writes in Colossians 1:21-27:

"Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel . . . . Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. "

Christ in you - the hope of glory. How amazing is that? It is not yet fully manifested, but it is there deep inside you and me. Like bulbs planted in the fall that will not blossom until spring, so is God's hope in you. It is there. You have it already. It just may not be in full bloom yet. But it will be. Do not worry about that. When you are dismayed by how far you have to go or how long you have to wait, Think Spring. Think Jesus. That is where our hope lies.


Jill said...

Great perspective, Amy. I'm thinking Spring and thinking Jesus!

Heather said...

I have been reading your blog for a while now, i am even linked to your site... i am not sure how i got to your site originally.
All this to say, once i started reading, I saw this amazing picture from the beach at Cedar Campus. I thought your picture looked familiar to me. I went to Cedar as a student in college... was there every summer from 1994 to 1996 including SLT in '96.
I love your writing, and I love your focus on HOPE. I am struggling with the similar focus on hope.
May God bless you, and strengthen your endeavors to find hope in Him.
Heather (Johnson) Kudla