Spring is officially—and finally—here. This was a long and tough winter. February was the coldest in over 100 years. I have lived in New Jersey for over thirty years, and I cannot remember ever seeing snow and ice on the ground continuously for so long. And, we were not the hardest hit by far. Communities in many New England states lived with repeated blizzards and unmanageable snowfall.
Our winter brought to mind The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis’s well-known and much-loved Narnia book. As the Pevensie children enter the world of Narnia, they find themselves in a land that has been locked in a very long, cruel winter by a wicked witch. As their adventure begins, they learn about the witch’s evil curse; they also learn about Aslan, the great and good ruler who has been absent from the land. As their adventure continues, signs of spring bring rumors that “Aslan is afoot.”
I believe that long winters can teach us something very important about our faith. Just as we deal with the difficulties of winter knowing that spring is coming, so we can deal with the difficulties of our lives knowing that Christ is returning and that we have an eternal home with Him in heaven. This doesn’t mean that we that we hibernate until spring; nor does it mean that we minimize hardship or live in indifference to suffering in this world. It does mean that we can put hardship and suffering in perspective. We take comfort in spring even as we layer on winter clothing, help children repeatedly with snowsuits, boots, and mittens, and shovel the driveway, again. Seeing Narnia begin to thaw gave the Pevensie children encouragement to continue their fight against the witch and her forces.
We are now looking to enjoy the beauties of spring and the glories of summer, appropriately so. But it would be wise for us to remain mindful that spiritually, our world remains locked in a long, cruel winter. The Jewish people waited several centuries between the writings of the last Old Testament prophet and the appearance of John the Baptist, come to announce the appearance of the Messiah. Millennia have passed since Jesus ascended to heaven after His resurrection and after promising to return. It has been a long spiritual winter. Yet Jesus reminded His followers to remain watchful for His return. Resurrection and redemption are even more sure than spring after winter. At this moment, though, Satan is still a very real enemy. But may the relief of spring remind us to always be looking for signs that Aslan is afoot.