The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. – Deuteronomy 31:8
As I sit here in my office on the campus of Concordia University, Ann Arbor, getting a head start on the day’s tasks, I find myself appreciating a tremendous irony. Today is the last day of classes before our week-long Spring break. As I gaze out my window, I am watching the 2-3 inches of additional snow fall on our campus which will help to pad our numbers as one of the snowiest Februarys of all-time. Pretty ironic considering that varmint from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania told us at the beginning of the month that Spring would be early this year (early June perhaps). So I ask myself: Is it Spring break or actually a break from spring?
Trying to maintain a positive outlook, I will refrain from further winter bashing. In fact, as a Finnish friend regularly informs me, I should celebrate winter because I can be outside basking in the heavenly flakes with no need for insect repellant. Of course, if I were going to continue to complain I might point out that even insects aren’t stupid enough to subject themselves to these ridiculous conditions, but I am maintaining my positive attitude so I wouldn’t dream of saying such things. In fact, allow me to focus upon one of the most encouraging signs of the (hopefully) soon-to-be changing season.
For as long as I can remember I have been taught that the sighting of the first robin was the sure sign that spring had finally arrived. Winter and her cold temperature eliminate most of the food supplies, so it makes sense that before the robins will show up, the climate will have to have changed enough to sustain them. I know what you’re thinking – another brilliant insight. Next he’ll regale us with stories of how the sun comes up in the East every morning and other obvious facts. But before you depart back to Facebook to answer more questions about me, let me point out something I learned about robins.
Not all robins will migrate south for the winter. I never realized this until only a few years ago. In fact, one chilly morning this past January, I pointed out a robin hopping about near the bike rack at my children’s school. I pointed it out to my kids who faked interest long enough to observe how odd it was to see one despite our certain belief that the robins were all gone.
And of course, this got me thinking…
The struggles we face in life have a way of lingering like winter weather. It can be cold, leaving us holed up and waiting for a break that never seems to come. Our mind tells us that the seasons will change, that warmth and sunshine are coming, but every now and again amidst the chill of winter we need to be reminded of those things. We need to be reassured that it may take a little longer, but spring is on the way. That’s where things get tricky. For many the return of the robin and the signs that accompany it become the important thing. We put all of our hope into seeking out the signs that we forget to realize the simple truth that the robins are still here. We may not see them as often. We may not know exactly where to look. But they are here because they’ve never left.
In our weakness, we sometimes convince ourselves that the love and promises of God are similar to the migration patterns of birds – here for a time and sometimes absent. However, the words of Deuteronomy 31:8 provide us with a clear and irrefutable promise. We need never doubt God or His promises to us, nor do we have to wonder when He will arrive. He is here, always here, leading, directing, and guiding us to the place He has prepared for us while preparing us for it.
May you never lose sight of the robins around you as you head toward the warmth and sunshine that is your promised future. And until then remember, NO BUGS!