'But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall.' Malachi 4 verse 2 NIV
Are you looking forwards to getting back to 'normal'?
As I write this blog, children have been back at school for two weeks and it will not be long before two households can meet in a garden. Although people are generally exhausted due to the various stresses and strains of the most recent lockdown, an air of excitement and hope is beginning to grow in the minds of friends and colleagues as the daffodils dance by the roadsides and the trees begin to display the beginnings of new leaves. At last we can believe that better times are ahead as the national vaccination programme continues and the road map out of lockdown progresses.
Every year at Easter time I undertake a spring clean of my cupboards and areas of the house. Just recently curtains have been coming down, carpets have been cleaned and I have been weeding out of my wardrobe those garments that are ill fitting, faded or no longer worn. No mean feat, I hear my friends chuckle, as I find it incredibly hard to part with anything! But there is something therapeutic about a good spring clean and getting rid of the old to make way for the new.
This time last year we were enduring our first lockdown and many people undertook a general sort out of cupboards and lofts to fill their time. Many friends posted pictures on social media of numerous black bags full of stuff that was unwanted. The beautiful weather we had seemed to support our efforts. As days lengthen and summer beckons each year, something within many of us wants to clean and sort things out in preparation for the new season.
For me, Spring and Easter have added poignancy this year. The last year has been full of darkness for many reasons. So many have been touched by illness, death, redundancy, isolation, anxiety and many other unpleasant experiences. In many ways we have been through personal wildernesses; hard pressed, restricted and exposed. I cannot help drawing parallels with Christ coming to end our darkness and the Israelites when they left Egypt to journey to the promised land.
'The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.' Isaiah 9 verse 2.
'Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble you in order to know what was in your heart.' Deuteronomy 8 verse 2.
Jesus came to end the darkness that mankind was walking in and to bring a new way where we could approach God without fear. He gave us the opportunity to embark on lifelong journeys of salvation where each season has its part to play, including the tough wilderness seasons where life seems dry, barren and hard. When things are going well and life is comfortable we thrive in many fields but we need the tough times to expose us and to make us rely on the grace, provision and guidance of our Lord. As we lean on him he has our full attention and we learn new lessons. These prepare us for a new and better season ahead.
The time is upon us when we are beginning to increase our freedoms and to enter a new season. As I contemplate the future I realise that I have learnt much over the last year and am not the same person that I was before the pandemic. I do not want to rush ahead into activity and forget those lessons. I feel God urging me to take my time, to remain focused and to take things one small step at a time. My life has been spring cleaned!
'I will build you up again, O Virgin Israel, and you will once again go out to dance with the joyful.' Jeremiah 31 verse 4.