All Creation Waits

Autumn’s final blast of anger against Winter’s unthinking hate is over, every leaf that cannot cling to life has lit the match to self-immolate in protest. We have enjoyed the beauty of that unconstrained rage.

This is the story the seasons tell—or one of them at any rate. Snow lay on the ground earlier this week, it’s melted away as I write but everything was painted in a cold beauty that sucks the warmth from the ground and kills life for good.

This is the time of year when creation takes a breath and holds it. The drama of the seasons plays out the gospel for us again every year and we do well to read the story they tell us. Winter is death, winter is darkness, winter is the last long breath exhaled with a cloud of mist and then gone with a swirl of wind.

A day is coming, and coming soon, when the light will start to dawn over dark wreathed hills like a glint of hope sparking from a Cherubim’s wheel. But it is not here yet. For now, we wait. The trees wait with us though with more certainty than we for they have lived what we take on faith: after death, life. After winter, spring. After the crucifixion, resurrection. After sin, forgiveness. After shame, restoration. After evil, the ever-running spring of life pouring from a city that descends from the heavens. The trees know.

While we sit in the dark, we might do well to not mope about but live as though that day were coming. This is true, I think, but it’s the sort of truth braided into a whip by well-meaning busybodies who fancy themselves temple-clearers. It is true that we should live as though the light were dawning—for if you squint even now you can see it. But it is not yet here, and we should live as though that were true too.

Some days you just have to howl and wail and throw up tears because the darkness is heavy and evil is real and you’re not a lot better and Death’s stinking hands have rifled through all your possessions and left your life like a house turned over by a burglar.

That’s ok. It really is.

If today is one of those days for you, then try as best you can to howl to God. Make your weeping a prayer. Make your distress an arrow to fire at the heavens though they seem as brass. I can promise you a truth you will hate to hear but remains true nevertheless: even though it feels like every prayed arrow is thrown back down to pierce your back, the Lord is with you in your pain.

You don’t want him to do that, or you don’t think you do. You want him to fix it. What is the point if he won’t fix it!? But he is with you.

When we live in Advent darkness we live with the tang of our salted tears in our mouth, but we live knowing that a day is coming when he will do precisely what we long for. Except, more fully and more wonderfully than we had hoped. The world will be fixed. Our tears will be shed for the last time. Our own hearts will be sifted and refined to rip from them hell’s root, and sin will be banished to the outer darkness.

Then the sun will come up, and on Easter morning daffodils will sprout on newly warmed hillsides—and a scent of spices will drift on the breeze.

But for now, all creation waits. We wait. We hold on, and we hold our breath.

When the snowdrops sprout and the magnolia buds, when daffodils send up their shoots and Spring’s first signs speak their quiet promises: receive all these as signs. They point beyond themselves every year to a deeper truth, a bigger story.

The darkness is ending, because a people who dwell in deep darkness have seen a great light (Isaiah 9). The night is ending because the dayspring comes (Luke 1). Death is ending, because Life has been born, and has died, and has risen—and he is coming again.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

Photo by Denys Nevozhai on Unsplash

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