Life Overcoming

What if, this year, spring hadn’t returned?

I ask myself this question, as I face a jumble of foliage at the end of the wooden walkway I’m hiking. I have taken a detour on my drive to Newport News, VA, to a preserve I found on a map. Out on the trail, spring has come in force.

I hear the wichety-wichety of yellowthroats – the piccolos of the forest orchestra today – accompanied by the bassoon of the frogs. Woodpecker percussion keeps time. Bees hum loudly as they speed past me, as if trying to get home to put pen to paper before the melody is lost.

A delicate flower on the forest floor – showy orchis, a kind of wild orchid -- seems, at the same time, both gaudy and unassuming.

Spring has arrived!

But what if it hadn’t? What if, for some freak reason, life hadn’t come out of hiding this year? The forest, rather than just being dormant, was simply done? It’s hard to imagine. We assume the downward swing will arc up again. It’s like the Icelandic proverb I read last night: “No night is so dark that day won’t come after.” We assume that night is not the end. Nor winter. Nor death.

It’s hard-wired in us to want life to win -- to hope that winter is just the dissonant prelude to the symphony of spring.

And with the good news of Easter still ringing in my heart, I have a boldness to believe that death is not our final destination. Jesus says from his throne in Rev. 21:5, “Behold! I am making all things new!” And everywhere I look today, I am reminded of that work.

All around me, “death is swallowed up in victory.” (1 Cor. 15:54)   The beech leaves seem almost exuberant in their overrunning of the standing, rotting tree. That’s the thing about spring – it’s so abundant, so dominant, so take-no-prisoners enveloping. It is a complete transformation of the environment around me.

That’s the message that we carry into a world of hurt and heartache and tragic death. 

Because of Jesus’s resurrection, life wins.

Risen Lord, let us be like spring – overflowing and abundant, carrying the sure knowledge of eternal life into every barren place, into every conversation, bringing hope into a world longing for redemption. Through us, let your kingdom come.

I would love to hear your thoughts and comments. Email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. And if you liked this, please use the buttons above to share it!

Bruce Van Patter

As a freelance illustrator, graphic recorder, and author, Bruce is on a lifelong journey to delight in the handiwork of the Creator. And he’s always ready for fellow travelers.

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