I was out for prayer this clear, cold winter morning when I noticed a lone Cardinal singing merrily away in a tree in our back lot. And the thought came to me, “That’s a lot like me and my friends.” It’s a wintery day but that Cardinal is not perturbed. It knows spring is coming, no matter how bleak and forlorn things are now.
Right now this world is in a deep winter. There’s death, sadness and depravity everywhere, almost lifeless. Yes, in the world now, like in our back lot, there’s still a little sprig of green here, an evergreen over there, even some helpless tiny flower can be seen, blooming out of season. But it’s winter. Like Paul said, “The whole creation groans in travail, waiting to be delivered.” (Romans 8) What is the deliverance? Just another spring coming in a few months?
For we who know the Lord and His promises, the true spring will be His return to our world to establish His millennial Kingdom. Then the world will know how it could have been and should have been all along. There will be peace on earth and Godly prosperity unlike anything any of us have hardly ever imagined, “above all we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20), on the shores of eternity.
But for now, it’s like some of us are the cardinals in the winter. We just keep singing and providing the color in this presently lifeless world. Even with the deep red of the passion of God in our hearts, we keep singing and making melody when seemingly there’s not really anything to sing about. But we do it by faith. We know there’s a spring coming, the eternal everlasting spring of the Kingdom of God on earth that the Bible promises is God’s ultimate plan.
If you are a Catholic, “cardinals” will have an additional meaning to you. Some of the top leaders of the Catholic Church are the Cardinals. And they traditionally dress in red. The symbolism? The idea has been that they are of a consecration that they would be willing to be martyrs, and shed their red blood for the cause of Christ, like many of the Christians of the first centuries did.
Well, there are still martyrs today but in many cases for most of us, we have to say with Paul, “I die daily“. (I Corinthians 15:31) In some ways that’s the hardest kind, dying daily to your own will and the cares and pleasures of this life to be what He wants us to be, bringing color and joy to this world and heralding the coming of the King of Glory to bring back this earth to the eternal spring like it had at the beginning of creation.
Every so often the Lord just punches through with thoughts like this when I go out for my morning walks. I used to go to a park and sit on a bench near where my parents’ lived when I was taking care of them in their last years. I wrote about a few of those experiences on my morning walks in “Just Did It“, “Everything Means Something” or even “Hawks and Doves”, things happening right in front of me that it was like the Lord was explaining to me the symbolism, as it happened.
And this was encouraging this morning, a little picture that fits for many of us. We are presently in winter. Yes, even winter has some beauties and pleasures to it. But it’s not spring. And we, God’s cardinals, are designed to keep singing, keep showing his passionate red against the drab dreariness of the world as it is now. And to keep singing the tunes and sounds of heaven because we are keeping the vision of the soon coming better world, where righteousness will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea, and as the Lord says, “Nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain.” (Isaiah 11:9)
Thank God when He gives us little things like this. Paul said, “The invisible things of Him from the beginning of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things which are made, even His eternal power and Godhead.” (Romans 1:20) And David said, “The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows his handiwork. Day unto day it utters speech and night unto night shows knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard.” (Psalm 19:1-3) We all need this; we all need to see the meaning that’s so often right there around us. “Where there is no vision the people perish”. (Proverbs 29:18) Those dear but few cardinals in our back lot this morning were a picture to me of how I and many others are now singing in spite of the winter of this world, keeping the faith that the ultimate spring of eternity on earth will yet come.