"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" -2 Corinthians 5:17
Maybe it’s the spring. Maybe it’s the first smell of shaved grass or the succulent colors of once-buried bulbs, maybe thickly blossomed branches and their pink and white confetti enchanting are to blame for these just as scattered thoughts. Maybe. Maybe my mind just wanders the length and breadth of eternity for fun.
There are things I’ve believed but never understood. I assumed that’s what faith was about - seeing enough puzzle pieces laid side by side that I could accept the gaps, and could generally guess the picture without the box top. But, something about spring makes me greedy. Something about sun on the corner of my eye warming ear and chin and neck, the woodwinds of birds in the trees and a breeze sugared with the scent of soon to bloom honeysuckle that makes me hungry for understanding, makes me bold in my pursuit of a God who boldly re-paints the earth every orbit round the sun. I want to know more. I want to understand. I want a belief breathless with unabashed wonder, a faith that leaps from height to height with joy unrelenting.
I think about autumn and spring and the beauty of wintery death in between them. I think about the integrity of heaven and the perfection that defines it, the population of souls made right that define its appeal. I think about trees and gardens and why the Tree of Life is mentioned in Genesis and Revelation, before sin was born and after it will pass, unavailable to mankind when it seems we need it most. Yet, God said that His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, understood from what has been made, so He must have tucked the clues to His mysteries in every leaf and fruit and petal, under every rock and above every star, pulsing in every human need and love and desire. Somehow, a tree that blooms never-ending life, and does not die hinders my understanding of a God who died for me. The gnawing, spring-fueled hunger grows.
I think about separation being the ultimate pain of death – as relational beings, nothing could hurt us more. Some lives are buried so deeply in our own that the thought of pulling them out rips our souls to shreds. To pay for our imperfections, our selfishness and our sins with such torn and bloodied sorrow seems a heavy punishment indeed. But the wages of sin is death…
I search for clues again in thoughts of spring, in succulent colors bursting from bulbs that died to see them bloom, in once bare branches now thickly blossomed and scattering pink and white confetti enchanting. They are trees that died yet live again. Eden's Tree of Life that would not die could not reveal to me the necessary door of death, or the passage it opens to a different sort of life just beyond the hinge.
Sin fractures our souls in a way that cannot simply be patched – they must be completely dismantled and re-built out of in-fracturable material. The integrity of Heaven cannot be maintained if populated by anything less. Just as winter separates autumn from spring, death separates the old life from the new, the dark from the light, the broken from the unbreakable (“and we shall be raised incorruptible”).
The punishment for our sin is not simply death as separation from every love buried in our souls. It is the necessary door beyond which lies the hope of resurrection to every love reborn. Jesus went through the process to show us how it works and because He knew we could not do it right ourselves. Dying by my fractured self would only birth another soul subject to fracture. Christ’s death substituted mine so I am re-made into a creature born of borrowed righteousness. The fear of separation is no more. A renewed soul enjoys renewed relationships, with both God and man enduring beyond the end of time. Death, where now is your victory? Grave, where now is your sting?
Death on this side of the door seems cold and dark and colorless. But the door isn’t locked, and if you listen close, there’s a knock. Maybe it's the life you always dreamed of with trees that never die. Maybe it’s the spring.
"When my body lies in the ruins of the lies that nearly ruined me, will You pick up the pieces that are pure and true and breathe new life into them, and set them free? ...Will You make me new out of the stuff that lasts, stuff that's purer than gold and clearer than glass will ever be? And, can I be with You? Can I be with You?" -Rich Mullins