In Minnesota, winter releases its grip by degrees, reluctantly withdrawing with snow skirmishes that can last through April into the first of May. The northeast was hit by a fourth winter storm this week.But in Texas, it is winter one day spring the next, with summer soon to follow.
There is nothing gradual about spring in Texas. One week forecasters issue winter weather advisories for snow, freezing rain and ice. The next week, redbuds and dogwoods explode in the woods; daffodils bloom; bare limbs put forth buds and the air is filled with the fragrance of cut grass.
By this time, we are all ready for spring. All that appears dead “springs” to life. It is the harbinger of things to come: the growing season when empty fields sprout with corn and cotton. Gardens yield their miracles: seed and soil and water and sun produce ripe red tomatoes, yellow squash and fat round watermelons.
When Jesus chose a metaphor to help us anticipate His return, He chose spring. He said, “Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door.” As exciting as spring is with its promise of summer, it cannot compare with what God has in store for us in the age that is to come, when He will establish a new heaven and a new earth.
For many years, I have thought it significant that Jesus chose a “spring” image to signify the end of the age. Most futurists paint a dismal picture. Bookshelves and movie lists are full of doom and gloom prognostications. Their predictions include alien invasions that wipe out the planet, a catastrophic meteor collision that makes earth unlivable, nuclear holocaust that destroys civilization as we know it, or a gradual erosion of earth’s resources.
Jesus held no illusions about the reality of our human condition. He plainly taught us that we would have wars and rumors of wars, that we would experience famines and earthquakes. (Mat. 24:6-7). The prophet Isaiah said, “Lift up your eyes to the sky, then look to the earth beneath; for the sky will vanish like smoke, and the earth will wear out like a garment and its inhabitants will die in like manner; but My salvation will be forever, and My righteousness will not wane.” (Isa. 51:6).
Erosion and pollution will likely continue. Nations will wage war. Our strong and youthful bodies will yield to disease, crippling injuries and old age. But in the midst of the woods the dogwood blooms. Through His Son, Jesus Christ, God is preparing a new heaven and a new earth. Spring and summer are coming! (2 Peter 3:13; Rev. 21:1).