“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
I often think about March as a month of hope as winter recedes and spring awaits - just around the corner. Perhaps I find this to be especially true at the lake since seasonal changes seem to be so pronounced.
As temperatures warm up, the ice on the lake thins and becomes weak and riddled with small holes – almost like a sponge. Then one day, at the command of the breezes, the ice begins to break apart into smaller pieces. Sometimes this is a gentle process, but at other times the thaw can become brutal – especially when a stiff wind thrusts razor-sharp, frozen chunks this way and that. Huge white knives fiercely slice and tear at solid ice, displaying unthinkable power and force.
And then suddenly, perhaps overnight, playful splashes replace the crashing, splintering ice. The stillness of the winter months has broken to bits, and vanishes entirely to welcoming the murmuring of the waves.
In the midst of the thaw, a variety of waterfowl return as soon as open water appears. I enjoy watching the wild swans, geese, and ducks as they paddle through the still-frigid water while others continue to walk fearlessly along the edges of the weakened ice.
Recently a few mallards decided to preen themselves while standing on the thin ice that remained in front of our house. Their friends splashed and played nearby in the water, proving that it was, indeed, time to celebrate the advent of warmer weather!
That moment seemed to speak to me of many things – including the inevitability of change as well as the possibilities inherent to it. I wondered what those ducks might say, if only they could talk. I might ask, “Say, have you thought about where you’ll build your nest this year?”
I think the answer would be quite clear and probably unanimous. “Actually, no, we haven’t. Too early for that. There are things to do – today. See, we’ve got to get these feathers oiled down right now…one thing at a time, you know.”
March hardly seems like an inviting time for the ducks to return to the lake, especially since aquatic weeds, a favorite food, are in a dormant state. But it always appears that the mallards are actually delighted to be back, if only because they are returning to a season of hope. Not forced hope, or hope that is a mere wish or yearning, but relaxed hope that believes and knows and lives one day at a time with the assurance that tomorrow’s needs will be met as the season evolves. Hope that allows the process of change to be smooth or rough, easy or difficult – whatever is best.
That’s the way I want to live when circumstances freeze and then thaw – when things break apart - when I see God moving me in the direction of change. Whether I’m walking the last of the ice, or swimming in the first waves of the new, soon-to-be-warmer season, I want to trust Him expectantly to take care of me – one day at a time.