Spring typically conjures up images of robins, flowers and bright yellow forsythia blooms. That's the way spring is supposed to be, at least.
But, the reality of it here in New Hampshire is a bit different. It's mud season. We're deeply grateful for the warmer weather, but warm weather means that the snow starts to melt, and when the snow melts, mud takes its place. Spring is also when the signs announcing "Frost Heaves" appear, warning us to expect washboard roads ahead. Then, later, come the black flies.
This may seem a bit cynical, but it reflects reality. Spring is wonderful, but we pay a price for it!
Our lives can be like this. Our expectation of the way life should be often clashes with the way life really is. Pastors often enter ministry with an expectation of the way things ought to be, and just as often quickly discover that their expectations and reality are seemingly at odds.
It's spring! We can walk to the mail box and not worry about slipping on the ice. But, it's spring, and the driveway is soggy and muddy, and there's no crocus in sight. The church is the bride of Christ! Yet, the bride often seems sullen, moody and distracted.
Spring, here in Northern New England, is a season where we learn to manage our naive expectations about the way things should be, and learn to wait, patiently, for the spring of our expectations to arrive. Soon, the snow will have melted away, and the ground will dry out in the sun. The well-watered soil will begin to generate crocuses, daffodills, and snowdrops, intimating that it's about time to prepare the garden for planting. Soon, the black flies will disappear just as mysteriously as they appeared.
Our expectation of spring isn't wrong, it really is spring despite what seems to be evidence to the contrary. The problem is, our expectations are impatient. We want spring, now! Pastors want to see the Kingdom come in their churches, now! We want what we want, now!
We forget that though we have little time and are always in a hurry, God never hurries, and God has all the time in the world, as 2 Peter reminds us: "But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day" (2 Peter 3:8).
So, let's hold on to our expectations, but let's do so patiently. Despite the mud and the sogginess, spring is here and the snow will be gone and the flowers will bloom. Despite a moody and distracted congregation, the Kingdom will come and all will be made right. Our time is not God's time. Spring really is here, but it will take awhile. The Kingdom has come in Christ, but it will take awhile before we see him put things to rights.
Remember, God doesn't live in our time zone.