In Just Spring

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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Sinners who haven’t plumbed their own darkness cannot comprehend the blinding luminosity of grace, says a basic Calvinist tenet. I rather like that equation, but then I live on the Great Plains, where the Lord wrote the textbook on winter. Out here, we know what it feels like to be freezing in January. Because we do, I’ll bet cold hard cash that we take more delight in the first voluptuous taste of spring than some softies in more southern climes.

To appreciate my story, you must realize that shimmering spring in the Upper Midwest always sets the prisoner free. Come late March, cabin fever has too long oppressed us; in northwest Iowa the dark night of the soul lasts three months and often a good deal longer.

So on those just-spring days when the wicked witch of winter seems nowhere to be seen, we all live for the moment, even the Calvinists. For the first time since October, I pull on a tank top and shorts and take a local bike trail—an eight-mile trip that, come June, is my daily regimen.

Too early for spring plowing, the squared fields beyond town lie silent beneath the azure sky and the kingship of a summer sun—gorgeous, gorgeous in a fashion nobody south of here understands. Trust me.

The bike path winds out to a golf course/campground east of town where the links, as you might expect, are overflowing. Two vehicles sit in the camping area’s blacktop stalls, but nobody hereabouts is muddleheaded enough to camp in late March. As a college-town prof, I figure the two vehicles belong to college students.

The first is a gray Dodge truck, a mini-pickup. On an adjacent picnic table, a young woman sits in the sun, laptop before her. She does not notice my passing. A paper due, I figure. “Good for you,” I think. She’ll get her work done but not miss this aberration, this sacred mistake in the weather.

A few stalls down, an old off-white Ford’s passenger door is open, two legs spilled out, two heads, at best an inch apart, poking just above the front seat like a pair of turtles. These two aren’t writing papers.

It is mid-afternoon. I’m a professor in a Christian college. I write books of meditations and devotions. I’m a church elder. But on a bike, in my tank top and shorts this first celestial spring day—this 55-year-old man passes that beat-up old car with spring lovers, and says to himself, “Good for you, too.”

Today, ten days later, a late winter storm's dumping is slowly melting from the streets. But I'm not asking forgiveness for that resplendent March afternoon when I put up a whoop just for love. No siree.

The Lord gave us that day for a reason. In spring, someone once wrote, all things are made young with young desires. So I stand by my hearty approval of everything I saw at an otherwise vacant campground. God help me—as He did that perfect spring afternoon.