Whew! It is spring break and our house is full of grandchildren who love to fish. Taking them out in our little john boat one or two at a time on the lake behind our home is an odd combination of exhausting and exhilarating. They are relatively young and are just getting the hang of managing a spinning reel to cast artificial worms for bass. Our trips are marked by lots of backlashes and retrievals from overhanging branches, but there are few images that have the power to burn themselves into one’s memory like a kid’s face as he takes in the sights and sounds of a pond as it awakens from winter’s embrace.
Ospreys call out as they soar above. Water swirls from fish having their way with minnows. The sweet scent of blooming flowers wafts in the breeze. Turtles bob on the surface while resident mallard ducks chortle along the shoreline. From time to time things are brought to relative perfection when that same child feels the strike of a bass, sets the hook, fights the fish and triumphantly brings it over the side of the boat only to dislodge the hook and return it to the lake. This world can be a tough place. Much of the news which pummels us day in and day out is bad. But in the midst of all the darkness, light breaks in. Spring approaches and once again all things are being made new as we are reminded what a beautiful creation God has given us.
Three thousand years ago the writer of what we know as Psalm 96 couldn’t contain himself any longer and cried out in joy,
“Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth!...Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth.” Psalm 96:1,11-13
I bring this passage up because it is a great reminder that, as glorious as this earth can be, what we experience here is only a foretaste of what is to come. Jesus — crucified, raised from the dead and ascended into heaven — will one day return to judge the earth. Satan and all the forces of wickedness will be defeated once and for all. In his revelation to Saint John, the Lord reminded him that on that day the dwelling place of God will be with man as the first heaven and the first earth pass away only to be replaced by a new heaven and a new earth.
“And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new...It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.” Revelation 21:5,6,7
Let your mind’s eye carry you to that time when believers inherit an earth by which this earth pales in comparison. Try to imagine what is so wonderful that no one’s mind can fully comprehend it.
Now add this to the equation — God’s promise is not just for some day in the future. The Greek words of the New Testament, which we translate as “I am making all things new” describe continuous action being done in the present. As wonderful as a new heaven and a new earth are going to be, we don’t have to wait to be swept up in the change. The Lord is in the business of making us new right now! And he does it from the inside out. Inviting Jesus into our hearts leads to our being born again through the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us and begins transforming us more and more into the likeness of Christ. St. Paul put it this way in his letter to the Christians in Corinth,
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16
The Church calls the process “sanctification,” the way God makes all things new in each believer’s life. It is a great word, though perhaps it would make more sense to folks if we just called it “spring.”
The Rev. Mike Hesse, former senior pastor of Immanuel Anglican Church, is now retired and living in Destin.