“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
Back from Lifelessness, by Randall D. Kittle
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This winter has been hard and harsh — more bitter and biting than any I have endured in many a year.  Blizzards, ice storms, and multiplied days in a row of sub-zero temperatures have left the landscape piled with hard packed snow and my hopes for fair weather worn and weary.  It takes some faith to stand in this winter landscape surrounded by the chilled silence of snow and ice and believe that in a few short weeks every trace of frost will be gone, that the snow-covered hills will be dressed in green and the ice-locked creeks and rivers will run swift and free again in the late-spring sunshine.  Yet our confidence is never disappointed.  The Bible has declared that “The earth is the Lord’s,” and He will always “renew the face of the earth” (Psalm 24:1; 104:30).
 
This springtime renewing of the earth is more than a change of season; it is a testimony of the transforming power of God … if we will open our eyes to see it.  This is what happened in 1629 to a young man named Nicolas Herman.  His poverty had forced him to join the army where he was at least guaranteed meals and some slight remuneration.  In the depths of a cold and lifeless winter, eighteen year old Nicolas looked at a barren tree, stripped of leaves and fruit, waiting silently and patiently for the sure hope of spring enlivening and summer abundance.  Gazing at the tree, he grasped for the first time the extravagance of God’s grace and the unfailing sovereignty of divine providence.  Like the tree, he himself was seemingly dead, but God had life waiting for him, and the turn of seasons would bring fullness.  He reasoned that if God could make such a difference in a tree, He could change the heart of a sinner, too, and God did not fail him.  His heart was changed, and from that day his life was devoted to the service of Christ.  He is well remembered as Brother Lawrence whose life of loving God and worshipping Him even through the mundane and common tasks of life is exemplified to us in the Christian classic
“Practicing the Presence of God.”
 

There is an exquisite appropriateness in our celebrating the resurrection of Christ in the spring.  The workings of God in nature cast a warm light upon His workings in redemption, and the springtime of life on the earth does illustrate the miracle of life in the new creation.  When nature is waking to life again after her long winter of sleep, it is then that the thoughts of Christians everywhere are turned to the wonder of our Savior’s bursting forth from the tomb after His ordeal with sin and death.  
 
The Rebirth of Hope
It’s hard to imagine anything less hopeful than the sight of a burial.  When the body of Christ was taken down from the Cross, wrapped in a clean linen cloth, and laid in a new tomb hewn out of the rock, how many who looked upon that scene had the faith to hope that in a few days this dead Man would be walking again among men and women, alive forevermore?  But that is what came to pass.  Aaron’s rod budded.  The leafless tree on which the Savior died sprang into bloom and became a symbol of everlasting life.  What had been stark death before became life at the touch of God, and the gallows of greedy men became, for us, the gate to everlasting life.
 
One thing the resurrection teaches us is that we must not trust appearances.  Just as the leafless tree says by its appearance that there will be no spring, the lifeless body of Jesus in Joseph’s tomb appeared to signify the end of everything for Christ and His disciples. Yet how wrong were these appearances from the truth.  The tree will bloom again, and Christ arose the third day according to the Scriptures.
 
Faith can afford to accept the appearance of defeat, knowing the true believer cannot be defeated finally, for the Lord has promised,
“Because I live, you also will live” (John 14:19).  That is the message of Easter that is clearly displayed every spring.  What a blessed message for the whole world if men would only open their eyes, see it and believe.    

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