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Winter in Spring

Written by Brent Brondyke, Music Pastor

I like the outdoors, generally. Having grown up in the country, and also having become involved in endurance sports in middle age, I find many enjoyable experiences and also many memories while observing God’s creation first-hand.

Quite often a sight, sound, or smell will trigger strong emotions caused by memories of outdoor romps. Many times, these feelings are triggered by physical sensations, like a brisk breeze or the gentle kiss of the sun. The emotional and figurative language of poetry will rise up and inspire me to a feeble attempt to express the experience in words. Recently, this happened while on a bike ride. However, it was the absence of the emotions that caught my attention, and has since rebuked my soul.

I was rolling along the bike path beside Falls of Neuse Road, north of Durant Road. There is a stretch there I really enjoy. Most of Falls of Neuse is not great for bike riding for obvious reasons, and some less obvious. For instance, much of the “bike path” is more like a washboard created by overgrown tree roots bulging the tarmac. This particular section, though, is smooth. Just past Raven Ridge Road there is a long descent down into the Neuse River valley. As I glided down the path with no effort expended, I remembered a ride last spring when I had stopped to take some pictures of the flowering trees that lined the path. It was beautiful, and the trees had filled me with one of those triggered emotional floods of, “It doesn’t get much better than this. I have a wonderful God, and it’s great to be alive!”

On that day last week, however, as I remembered the past spring’s experience, I was somewhat depressed to realize I was feeling no similar exhilaration. The trees were there, and their flowers were beautiful. But, it was warmer than usual, too warm. The air felt heavy, and not like spring. Then it dawned on me that it probably wasn’t the air at all, but the atmosphere… the atmosphere of uncertainty and angst so many of us were feeling because of a virus and our mushrooming response to it. Though warm, it felt like winter- winter in spring.

In my head, I began to work out words for a poem, but it never came. I’m glad really. The point would have been rather depressing and not very edifying, I’m sure. I met up with some friends for the remainder of the ride and commented how it looked like spring, but did not feel like spring. They probably assumed I meant the temperature.

This morning, as I was using my hymnal for part of my devotional time, I came across a poem by Maltbie D. Babcock that did, indeed, express some applicable truth, and much more effectively than my scant gifts ever could:

This is my Father’s world,
And to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings
The music of the spheres.

This is my Father’s world:
I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas–
His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world:
The birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white,
Declare their Maker’s praise.

This is my Father’s world:
He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass,
He speaks to me everywhere.

This all describes the experience I was remembering and hoping to have. But the last two stanzas apply the truth I needed to believe- in the absence of the experience:

This is my Father’s world:
O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the Ruler yet.

This is my Father’s world:
Why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King: let the heavens ring!
God reigns; let earth be glad!

My heart was justly rebuked, and I hope I’ll remember that while God gives us beautiful and pleasant experiences, we often learn more from challenges and discipline!

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About Friendship Baptist Church

Our purpose is to make much of our Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel through the preaching of His Word and the making of disciples. At Friendship Baptist Church (FBC) we teach the Bible in order to facilitate spiritual growth in all of God’s people and to provide opportunities for Christian fellowship. God has graciously used Friendship to further His work both locally and across the globe since 1965.