It was our first October in Colorado when my wife Miska and I drove up from Denver into the Rockies to feast on autumn’s colors. Summer had given way, and winter would soon be upon us. The lines of tall white aspens stood at attention, like a disciplined battalion prepared for a change of guard. Aspen-white never looks so vivid as when the trees erupt in fire and gold. We reveled in the crisp air, the rugged ridgelines, the wild beauty.
No matter how bitter the winter death, new life always waits around the corner. It’s only a matter of time.
These changes of season are beautiful, though common and routine, having switched like clockwork every three months for a very long time. But when winter yields to spring, when a cooling summer whispers fall’s arrival, nature tells us a story of the God who is always creating, constantly remaking, forever crafting new beginnings. No matter how bitter the winter death, new life always waits around the corner. It’s only a matter of time.
We had moved to Denver so my wife could pursue graduate school—an intense, two-year program preparing her for work in the art of counseling and spiritual direction. Before we loaded up the moving truck in Florida, we didn’t have many essential details in place—like where we would work or how we would eat—but we knew this was a journey we needed to take. The move to Denver wasn’t about a change in geography but a change of the soul.
Those two years were beautiful and painful. Miska’s coursework led her to cry many tears, good ones. Wounds that had never properly mended reopened, and old lies bared their fangs. But my wife allowed good friends and the power of truth to push past her walls to her places of hiding. Miska opened her heart wide. She let grace deeply pierce her.
Sometime during those days, I remember telling her how I felt I was seeing her blossom, as if she were coming to life. I was madly in love with the Miska I married, but the Miska she was becoming—this was a woman intriguing and compelling in wholly new ways.
From Scripture’s first pages until the final word, we find God creating and redeeming. Genesis gets right to it, showing God coaxing newness and life out of death and chaos. When Jesus arrives on the scene, He brings redemption, not ruin. Revelation offers a picture of God’s good end, and here we find everything new, a full restoration. No more scarcity or lack. No more sorrow.
My wife allowed good friends and the power of truth to push past her walls to her places of hiding. She let grace deeply pierce her.
Yet, we often miss God’s activity because we are looking in the wrong place. We assume God to be most concerned with exactly what we are most concerned with—the relationship we want fixed or the career we’re clamoring to get on track or the life-vision we demand. A new January comes and resolutions take shape, but by April, little has changed … and we believe God has done nothing. However, God is up to something far more dangerous, far more radical than what we envision. G. K. Chesterton reminds us how “[t]he object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul.” God is making us into a deep-rooted tree. God is busy bringing our heart to life. It’s crazy how easily we miss it. Which makes me thankful for the one time I didn’t, when I witnessed that miracle. I saw my wife come to life.
A couple of years ago, a friend painted Miska a picture. It is a tree, fiery golden, sturdy and alive. It isn’t an aspen, but it tells the same story as those autumn-drenched ones. I don’t know if our friend knew this, but for Miska, a tree symbolizes the work God is doing in her, of bringing beauty and life into her world, of planting her in firm soil and calling her to blossom. The picture hangs in our living room, and it is a reminder that God is always creating, forever crafting new beginnings. Every season. Every year.