On faith: The grand opening of April
By: Rev. Joseph Whiting, pastor, Grace Baptist Church in Two Harbors, Lake County News Chronicle
April is here, all contrary evidence notwithstanding. Here in northeast Minnesota, we who look outside our windows and see the snow piled high, should take heart. Beneath those cumbersome layers of ice and slush a new generation of green life waits to burst forth.
Last week, I observed the first pussy willow catkins opening up in the snow-covered woods. The concept of opening is bound up in the words we use for both April and spring. The traditional etymology of the word April connects it to the word apirire, meaning “to open.” In modern Greek, the name for spring is Anoixis, meaning “the opening.” In climates where mankind copes with long months of snow and ice, April truly is the grand opening—the melting away of winter’s icy grip and the entrance of new life.
Each spring we have the opportunity to witness breathtaking reminders of God’s creative process. How amazing it would be to have witnessed the first day of creation when God spoke those opening words, “Let there be light.” On day five, God spoke into existence the first life on earth, “Then God said, ‘Let the earth sprout vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit after their kind with seed in them’; and it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit with seed in them, after their kind; and God saw that it was good” (Genesis). Plant life is the direct result of God’s creative act.
Spring suggests that there is a choice between safety (staying closed) and risk-taking (openness). As plants emerge and open their leaves, buds, and flowers, they are vulnerable to injury by weather conditions, herbivores, and disease. To remain closed, however, would be to miss the incredible opportunity of life and growth. By their Creator’s design, plants take the risk of germinating, emerging, growing, and blooming. The gains of success far outweigh any potential losses.
Okay, I think you know where I’m going with this. Sometimes people, when faced with the choice of safety versus risk, elect safety. They close up shop and turn out the lights. They fear injury or failure. But they rob themselves of the incredible blessing of living and growing. They fail to see that the opportunities obtained through risk are far greater than any perceived injuries.
Think about the people you admire most. Or consider the great men and women of history, of the Bible. They are people with a passion, a mission, a divine calling. They are people of faith. They are convinced that they are here for a purpose. They open themselves up to their task, acknowledging the risks. They know that the opportunities are too great to miss. The Lord encouraged Joshua when he inherited the unenviable position of being Moses’ successor. God reminded him, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua). With these words ringing in his ears, Joshua trusted God and led the Israelites to a victorious conquest of Canaan.
When you come to your crossroad where you have to choose between closing down or opening up, I hope you’ll heed these words of the Lord, take that step of faith, and open yourself up to becoming all that your Creator designed you to be.