One of the things you hear people in our part of Michigan say is, “If you don’t like our weather, hang on for a few minutes, and it will change.” We have had a strange winter season. We had brutal temperatures, wind, and snow in early December, leading all of us to think it was going to be a terrible winter. As we got near the holidays, the weather became unseasonably warm. We waited anxiously for another blizzard like the ones we usually have after a warm spell in winter. It never happened. Now we see the amazing spring timing.
It was so warm in the winter that I worried about the glad bulbs I had dug up. I put them in buckets covered with moist newspaper and stored them in the garage for spring replanting. I was afraid they would leaf-out responding to temperature, but they seemed to be okay and had not budded out at all. The weather did turn cold, but not the sub-zero stuff we usually have. Now we are in mid-April and, even though it snowed two days ago (and is snowing again today), winter is essentially over, and I used my snowblower only once.
So now I just got the glad bulbs out of the bucket in the garage. They have been in an insulated, dark garage, covered with a foot of newspapers since I dug them up in October. Every single bulb has a green shoot coming out. They are ready to be planted. How did they know it was time? The temperature in the garage didn’t change. No sunlight got into the bucket.
I have always assumed that my daffodils, which are blooming like crazy, used the presence of direct sunlight and perhaps temperature to know when to come up and prepare to boom. The glads had none of those indicators available to them. I am not suggesting that the amazing spring timing is some kind of mystic intelligence that tells the glads it is time to go. Whether it is ultraviolet light or infrared that signals the glads, it is a highly well-designed system.
Amazing spring timing is fascinating. The hummingbirds seem to know when to come north. The sandhill cranes are circling overhead as they fly ahead of the weather systems that might otherwise threaten them. The baby deer are around in such numbers that no amount of predation threatens to wipe out the deer population. That is thanks to the synchronized births that seem to take place in almost all wild ungulates.
When God decided to challenge Job, He used the things that show design wisdom in His creation to convict Job of his ignorance. Job 38:39- 41:34 finds God challenging Job to look around and see God’s wisdom and power at work. There is no better time to see that than in the amazing spring timing. Let us all step away from the ills of humanity and look at what God has done.
We have mentioned before that God did not create the coronavirus that is causing so much pain to people worldwide. In this devastating epidemic, many of us have lost someone close to us. No one is minimizing the damage of COVID-19, but human greed and mismanagement have been the primary cause of it, not God. However, God’s seasons of hope can bring us through times like this.
One blessing that we should all be thankful for is the time of year when this pandemic has struck. It is now April. Geese are flying overhead. My daffodils are ready to bloom. A baby deer crossed my driveway this morning. The yard is greening up, and I will be outside rotor-tilling the garden and spreading fertilizer later this week. Experts say that viruses don’t like the ultraviolet light and high temperatures of the Sun, and the forecast is for clear skies and rising temperatures.
When Paul was teaching in Iconium (Acts 14), he encouraged his listeners: “Turn from these vanities to the living God who made heaven, and earth, and the sea and all the things that are in them. In the past God allowed all nations to walk in their town ways, but he did not leave himself without a witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” (Verses 15-18).
The rain has come and melted the last of the snow. There is plenty of food, and congregations who operate food banks are meeting the needs of people in their areas. Before long, there will be strawberries, asparagus, greens, and mushrooms available outside our doors. We can once again fill our hearts with food and gladness.
Let us find encouragement in Paul’s words as we enjoy God’s seasons of hope and look forward to a future free from this virus threat.
Today, March 20, 2019, is a special day as the spring equinox arrives for the Northern Hemisphere. Today the Sun will set exactly in the west and tomorrow it will rise exactly in the east when observed from the Equator. The day will be exactly 12 hours long and night will be exactly 12 hours long. After today in the Northern Hemisphere, the days will be longer than the nights. Officially spring arrives today at 9:58 PM Greenwich Mean Time (5:58 PM Eastern Daylight Time where we live).
In reality, all of this is an exaggeration of the real situation.Don’t expect a balmy spring day if you live in Michigan (as we do) or other northern areas. Ice and snow have to melt, and the land has to warm up. Nevertheless, the equinox does remind us of Earth’s design and how many variables control our existence on this planet. What does happen on this day is that the Sun will be directly overhead at noon at the equator.
During the northern winter, Earth’s tilt has caused the Sun to be overhead south of the Equator. As the Earth moves around the Sun, the Sun’s location relative our planet will drift north until June. When the summer solstice occurs on June 21, the Sun will be overhead at 23 degrees north latitude. The more direct sunlight not only warms the Northern Hemisphere, but it avoids overheating the Southern Hemisphere.
If Earth did not have a 23-degree axis tilt, the Sun would beat down on the equator from directly overhead all year long. The Equator would become so hot that nothing could live there. The northern and southern latitudes would both freeze. Wind belts created by air rising violently at the equator would be hurricane force 24/7. We see that happening on planets in the solar system that do not have an axis tilt.
Ancient people knew that the position of the Sun changes throughout the year. They used elaborate but primitive observatories to determine the time to plant and harvest based on the Sun’s position. Unfortunately, this led many cultures to worship the Sun. Nowhere does the Bible encourage or condone the worship of any celestial bodies. The Bible recognizes the seasons and the role of the Sun as designed by God for human existence. (See Genesis 1:14-15).
The ancient psalmist David said it (Psalms 8:4) and the writer of Hebrews quoted it (Hebrews 2:6), “What is man that you keep him in mind or the son of man that you look after him?” The equinox is a good time to be reminded of God’s provisions for us and thankfully worship the Creator, not the creation.