Spring has been a long time coming this year.
I think that has been true for many places. Certainly here, by the time March comes around there is normally the expectation that spring will follow quickly- warmer weather, maybe a bit of sunshine, flowers blossoming, signs of new life springing up.
Not this year.
March began with our heaviest snowfall for eight years. (In the photo it’s just getting started!) Life ground to a halt for the best part of a week as events were cancelled and travelling any distance became impossible. Even into April, snow disrupted everyday activities at times.
But over the last couple of weeks, it seems like spring has finally broken through, and the bright sunny days and spring flowers blooming are all the more beautiful for the long wait.
There is a sense of hope that the cold, dark days are gone, at least for a while, and that summer is on the way.
And that’s not the only place I’ve seen new life this week!
At a youth event on Friday night, I had just finished praying for someone when two girls I knew approached me. They were both beaming from ear to ear but seemed slightly tongue-tied.
One of them finally managed to get the words out to tell me that her friend had decided she wanted to become a Christian!
After briefly chatting to the girl, making sure she understood what she was doing, I was able to pray with them both. They couldn’t stop smiling, and left full of joy.
I could hardly stop smiling either. New life had blossomed before my eyes and it was amazing to see. It was also such a privilege that they had sought me out to play a part in that. There was the same feeling of spring coming after a long, hard winter.
In the work I do with young people, a big part of it is preparing the ground. It’s teaching them about the Bible for the first time, it’s shattering misconceptions they may have, it’s helping them to discover what Christians believe and allowing them to begin exploring that for themselves. It’s valuable work, but you don’t always get to see a lot of fruit.
A lot of the time you’re planting seeds and praying that, in God’s time, they will grow. There are times when you can sense that God is doing something, and that there is growth happening beneath the surface even though it’s not yet visible.
There are times when you get to hear later of the impact your work has had and see that God has used it.
And there are times, many times, when you have no idea, when you just have to keep playing your part and trust God to do his work.
But there is something special about those rare moments when you’re actually there as that little shoot of new life pokes its head above the surface for the first time, and all at once the growth is obvious and indisputable.
As I prayed with the girls on Friday night I was overjoyed at what God was doing, but also encouraged at how he had used my work and the work of others as part of that. I knew how much time and energy and prayer had been poured into work with these girls. I knew that at times it had been tough and there had been opposition and the temptation had been to give up, but I’m so glad we kept going!
Those are the moments that make it all worthwhile, that remind you why it’s worth persevering through the winter, no matter how long and hard it is- because spring is on the way with the hope of new life, and there’s nothing more beautiful!