In Ukraine, the people adamantly declare that the season of spring begins on March 1st. Accordingly, summer on June 1st, fall on September 1st and winter....you guessed it, December 1st!
Now, with my western mind-set this has always been hard for me to embrace. When I see snow on the ground on March 5th and hear Ukrainians declaring that spring has arrived, I kindly like to remind my Ukrainian counterparts that we in the west don't welcome spring till 21st of the month- when the calendar tells us and the weather and the flowers generally look a bit more promising than their snow covered state on the 1st of March.
After all, how can it be spring when it doesn't look like it?
No sun. No flowers.
I don't know about you, but the months of January, February and March have always been hard for me. Christmas has passed, the cold has set in, the sidewalks are miserable, the days are short and the summer dresses that are stuffed in the back of my closet seem a distant memory!
I have never enjoyed being stuck in the winter. Who really does?
While I was studying in England this past fall, I had a very meaningful prayer time with two older women who prayed for me and ministered to me one day in late October. I had felt rather 'stuck' in some areas of my life and in my relationship with the Lord, and God used this time of prayer to speak truth and life to me and bring restoration to my spirit. At the close of our prayer time one of the women shared with me a verse that she felt the Lord brought to her mind for me as we prayed.
"My lover spoke and said to me, Arise my darling, my beautiful one, and come with me. See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of signing has come! Song of Songs 2:10-12
I'd never heard this verse before, or if I had, I'd forgotten it. But as she read the sweet words, they each spoke to me in an instant. There was something strange, and yet oddly refreshing to hear a verse about the winter being past, just as winter was on the verge of dawning around me in the beauty of the English autumn. In that moment, it seemed both a promise from the Lord and a reminder about what it means to have eyes of faith when you can't see past what is in front of you. And prior to that prayer time all I had seen was the looming of winter.
As I lay awake the other night, staring at the ceiling above me, I started reflecting on all the things that God has been doing in my life and the amazing way he has been taking care of me. From the provisions of this new apartment, to the friendships I have here in Kiev, to growing ministry opportunities, to just the fact alone that I am loved by the creator of the universe and he takes care of me!! Tears began to fill my eyes as I started to reflect on all of this and I lay there just in awe of who God is.
The verse from Song of Songs that was given to me this fall was yet again brought to mind as I suddenly realized that those words had indeed become my reality.
These past few months I have been living in 'winter' and yet- in spite of the cold and snow, God has put a new song in my heart and given me the eyes to see the spring.