by: DALE NESSMITH
“For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord; and there is none else.” Isaiah 45:18.
There is nothing which proclaims the greatness and grandeur of Almighty God any better and clearer than the springtime. As I look out of my office window this morning, I see green grass growing where a brown mat of dead carpet lay only a few days ago. I see green leafy and white blooms on a pear tree that appeared dead and barren last week. Springtime is the greatest show on earth and the conductor and writer of it all is God. God does all things just right, but there is a timing to it all. It is amazing how the Lord prepares us to appreciate the season of nature and of life really. We are better able to rejoice and notice the springtime because we have had a long, cold winter. And just watch it, as the spring brings on a flush of new growth, we’ll have more energy and optimism for summer activities. Then, just when we’ve done it all, the fall will get in the air and there will be just enough nostalgia to settle us into a wonderful winter’s rest. In nature and in our lives, God has a way of providentially ordering all things so that His creation and His creatures are at the right place at the right time to bring Him glory and see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
“I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” Psalm 27:13
Well, if we don’t see the goodness of the Lord at springtime we probably won’t see its goodness any other season either. Even though God is good all the time, it seems as though His goodness really shouts and shows off when the trees are budding, the flowers are blooming, and the grass is growing. This world will darken your soul with doom and gloom, but God will brighten our lives with hope and bloom. The border crisis, riots and racism, COVID 19 are weighty and real. Yet all the trouble and trials the devil and his demons can muster cannot stop a seed from sprouting or a bird from singing! If all we listen to is the news and Facebook drama, we will live in a haze and be real prone to road rage. But butterflies, blue skies and honeysuckle vines provide a serenity of accepting the things we cannot change while providing the motivation and will to change the things we can, because we are reminded that God is in control not only of this world, but also our soul. Spring makes the soul sing because it fades out what’s wrong with the world and magnifies what’s right with God.
We must never forget that the earth is God’s garden. And even though it is under the curse of God as a consequence of the sin of Adam, it is still His place. The earth is not God’s throne, but it is His footstool; and His footprints are everywhere!
“Thus said the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my foot- stool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?” Isaiah 66:1
I have noticed in the past week or so, while driving through the countryside an abundance of yellow blooms growing on vines right out in the woods. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think I’ve noticed them in such places before at all. The color yellow reminds me of hope and hope is what makes the soul sing. Emily Dickinson said, “Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without words, and never stops at all.” Springtime can make us feel good and hopeful in spite of our problems. It can make our soul sing without any reason. Just like those vines growing in the trees and hedges seem useless, adding absolutely nothing to the aesthetics of the terrain, yet when spring has sprung and spots of yellow hang and glow where only obstacles seemed to entangle and snake, the soul breaks forth a tumultuous tune of praise which words could not utter.
This past winter included being homebound and isolated because of COVID 19 precautions. In nature and in our lives it has been a long, cold winter. God, though is faithful and He knows just how and when to break our dormancy and despair. So He sends us springtime. God has given us two great books to tell us what He wants us to know about Him, our Sa iour and ourselves. One is the Bible, the Holy, inerrant, inspired word of God. The words of the Bible are God breathed, penned with man’s hand, but express the mind of God. The other book is the book of nature. The author of this book too is God almighty. He created all the universe out of nothing and He sustains it every day, even every moment. Both books are vital and are meant to keep us singing. The Bible contains the gospel and the Saviour’s finished work on the cross of Calvary for us. The book of nature contains the wisdom and power of the Creator bound with His faithfulness. While the Bible manifests God’s glory, nature magnifies God’s goodness.
Jesus often used the nature He had created to teach spiritual principles. He would point to plants, flowers and trees saying, “Look at that....consider this.” He even used a common plant like a vine as a metaphor for himself.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.” John 15:1
God’s truth and goodness is everywhere in the garden of nature. This earth really is God’s garden and He has graciously given us the op- portunity and the responsibility to be good stewards of His property. Not only are we to be dressers and keepers of God’s garden of nature, we also should learn from the seasons and sequences, the power and order of His unseen hand. He has many things to teach us right in our own backyard as we work, watch, and think about what we see. Springtime makes our souls sing because the renewal and freshness of creation causes us to take a fresh look at what we can learn about our own spiritual life. Springtime is really a springboard to prompt us to pray and praise the Lord of Glory. Springtime spontaneously tunes our hearts with the wonder and wisdom of God. Just to notice a bumble bee flying reminds us that nothing is impossible with God! The martins have returned to Arcola and their soaring and singing has caused me to look up. The birds though are not the reason my soul sings. It’s the God beyond the birds, the God that brought the birds back, that protected and provided for them and me, while they were away. This fount of every blessing even flows with His grace and reminds me that God will never leave me nor forsake me, so I sing; and so do you. I knew that spring was coming, didn’t you? God has promised that as long as this world stands, He would send springtime.
“While the earth remaineth, seed- time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” Genesis 8:22
All this beauty and glory was sleeping under a quilt of comfort and compromise. But now it’s time to wake up and see God! There is no need to waste time at the tomb of gloom. He has risen! Remember the first place the risen Savior was seen was in a garden. I believe we can see Him there too!
The Swedish folk hymn “How Great Thou Art,” was written by Carl Boberg in 1885. Later, an English missionary, Stuart Hine was so moved after hearing the song in Russia, that he modified and expanded the words and made his own version of the wonderful hymn. Stuart Hine said the first three verses were inspired by Russia’s rugged Carpathian mountains. The first verse was composed when he was caught in a thunderstorm in a Carpathian village. The second as he heard the birds sing near the Romanian border and the third as he witnessed many of the Carpathian moun- tain dwellers coming to Christ. In the New York crusade of 1957, this hymn was sung by George Beverly Shea ninety-nine times, with the choir joining in with the majestic refrain: “Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee, How great Thou art! How great Thou art!”
It is true that when we are broken and going through despairing circumstances, we are closer to God than when things are hunky dory. It seems like when we need God the most, we have Him the most! Even though God is always with us and has promised never to leave or forsake us, we don’t seem to grasp this until His unseen hand holds us close and caresses us with His grace. This hidden power from on high heals from the inside out and will cause a believer to shout as heaven is seen most clearly through a prism of tears. Those sacred moments are like springtime to the soul as buds of hope and blooms of love miraculously appear. I remember sitting on the front pew beside my wife at Upper Black Creek Primitive
Baptist Church for the funeral service of our two year old son, John Emory. Amidst all the sorrow and grief, and somewhat numbed by it all, as we rose to follow the little casket to the cemetery, the humble hush was broken by a melodious, merciful sound which brought springtime to a dark cold heart. That sound was the hymn “How Great Thou Art!”
It requires a miracle to give a person hope in the midst of helplessness and peace that passes understand- ing during pain. It also takes a miracle to make grass grow, a leaf to break forth from a bud, or a bird to build a nest. There is only one miracle worker and He initiates both springtimes; of the soul and of nature.
His name is “The Lord” and there is none else. The miracle work is God’s part. Our part is praising Him with “How Great Thou Art!” I really can’t describe what hearing the hymn “How Great Thou Art” did to me that day. I know for sure that it gave me strength and a settled, submissive peace even though I was shedding tears. Why did that happen? Rather, how did that happen given it was such a heartbreaking event? It is because the focus was on God and how great He is. When grace shows us that God is great, our troubles just have to wait. To this day, every time I hear or sing “How Great Thou Art,” I remember that day at Upper Black Creek Church when the Lord brought springtime to my soul.
Spring is really hard to describe, you just have to be there. Just like a flower is hard to describe, you just have to see it. Look around today and notice what God has done — the difference His grace and power and wisdom makes. When spring is in the air, we can’t remain in spiritual dormancy. Our souls must spring to rejoice in our Great God and Savior. Then look up by faith to the author and artist of life, the God that creates the sunset and also paints the colors on a butterfly’s wings. Really, is there
anything too hard for God? If the birds are singing because the earth is springing then surely our praises should be ringing, “It’s springtime in my soul.” What really brings freshness and renewal from spring grace though is when we look within our own hearts. Even if there were no spring, Jesus can renew our hearts and minds so we can see and appreciate both eternal and natural things. Time spent with Him daily and intimately in prayer reading His word exposes us to the true light and causes life to spring out of the most unlikely places. Springtime reveals the need of nature and of us to change and grow. Living each day with Jesus will result in a life of humble hummings, “Then Springs My Soul.”