Asbury United Methodist Church
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January 11, 2018

I am kind of loath to say it, but I really do not like January!

          January is cold, barren, kind of lifeless outdoors and rather slow-paced.  On the other hand, Cheryl loves January because it is cold, barren, kind of lifeless outdoors and slow-paced.

          She has even made these cute little snowman shirts for the grandkids.  Each to their own! 

Even so a wise person once said that spring always follows winter.  This is true literally and metaphorically.

          I am now counting down the days until spring.  Spring for me is February 18th when the Daytona 500 runs and the NASCAR season starts all over again.

          I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I think I can also make the case that Christ is the light at the end of the tunnel of the proverbial winters that can settle into our souls, as well.

          What am I talking about?  I am talking about the trying times that seem to ceaselessly come around seasonally; and, they can feel like a barren winter to the soul.

          But, spring always follows winter!  Perhaps the best biblical example of this kind of winter can be understood as we read the book of Job.

          The story opens and Job is living in high cotton!  He has everything going for him.

          He has a large family, lots of money, good health and plenty of land.  But, in an instant he loses it all.

          As if in a nightmare, Job awakens to find that even his body is fighting him.  He has huge sores from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet.

          In what appears to be a humorous dialogue between Job and his wife, his faithful spouse says to him, “Curse God and die (Job 2:9b NIV).”  That’s really supportive!

          But, spring always follows winter.  A conversation ensues between Job and the Lord. 

          The Lord opens Job’s eyes.  An epic case of God’s sovereignty is laid out and it takes Job’s breath away.  He responds to the Lord, “My ears have heard of you but now my eyes have seen you (Job 42:5 NIV).”

          The story of Job is perhaps the greatest recovery story ever told.  At the end of the day, Job understood that even though every calamity thinkable had intruded into his life, nothing could snatch him from the palm of God’s hand.  

          Job experienced spring in his soul.  And, God restored him in all ways.

          Have you ever noticed that sometimes it takes a broken heart before we let Christ in?  It seems to me that tough times can urge us down one of two paths. One path of course is to draw near to Christ.  The other path is to wither up!

            Yes indeed, we can cloister up, become cynical and dig a real hole for ourselves in the self-pity department.  One can reason that God’s end of the bargain has not been held up.

After all, if God has allowed all this stuff to happen to me then maybe I shouldn’t be so faithful myself.  The temptation is huge to go down this path but it is nothing but a dead-end road.

It pays to remember that it was at the core of Job’s pain that he saw God more clearly.  And, this begs a difficult question: Should we actually feel appreciation for the winter if the end result is to elevate us into a whole new level of experiencing God?

Can pain be redemptive?  And, let’s just say this upfront, lots of times, we are in no way responsible for the winter that has just settled down upon us!  Bad events can slam into us when we are doing everything right!

What to do?  What to do?

We cling to what we know!  Spring always follows winter!

We serve a redemptive God!  We serve a God who is the midst of the whirlwind, who will squeeze grace out of every travesty.

As painful as winters can be, it is possible for us to look back upon them as our time of spiritual awakening.  As we walk and live into Jesus’ ways of doing things, we see him as the light at the end of our tunnel.

And, this changes everything!



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