Only a Distant Memory
The golden sun tucks itself into the horizon, parting with a splash of soft pinks, purples, and oranges. Despite the departure, its heat continues to warm a world preparing for slumber. I trek across my yard to our duck pen, watching songbirds flit from their nests and merrily call out to another. I’ve worn this path before. I trudged through it daily in the snow, sloshing two gallons of water against my bundled shins. I’ve walked this very grass in heavy boots, stomping icy dirt beneath my feet as the silence of winter surrounded me. Yet now, my bare feet brush against the soft blades, and the cold of the past few months of winter are but a distant memory.
These days I wake to a glow through my windows. Was it only a few months ago when the darkness suffocated? When the night snatched the daylight, and along with it all my hope? I slide the door open for our dog, and for once I don’t shrink from the air. Instead it invites me out into the chatter of birds and the hum of the tractor working the fields. The mornings I waddled into our living room wrapped in blankets feel far-gone. When did it happen? One minute the cold sunk deep into my bones as I ached for spring, the next I’m setting out a picnic blanket.
This story pops up throughout all of our history. The light overtakes the dark—fading it into mere memory. I think of Jacob wrapped in the embrace of Esau, and later dining at the side of the brother who once sought his life. I wonder at Joseph feasting on the spoils of his kingdom, as the crusty pittance of prison food sunk farther from his mind. I think of Naomi holding her wriggling grandson in the arms that once cried out to God in emptiness. Was it only a little while ago these saints felt terror and grief? Weren’t they so recently surrounded by darkness, clamoring for hope from the God they feared? Yet it all became mere memories.
These experiences punctuate our own lives each day. The migraine we battled for a week suddenly subsides. The nights of constant bottle-feedings end. The difficult project at work finally resolves. They can stretch even larger—the nursery isn’t empty anymore, the broken relationship heals, unemployment finally drifts into the past. We all hold memories that have faded; moments, days, or weeks of bitter cold that have disappeared in the light of the sun.
These are but small glimpses of our future, for all of creation longs for a similar redemption, and one day it will receive it. Paul tells us that “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye” we will be changed (1 Cor. 15:51–52). The dead will be raised and the consummation of all creation under the Lord’s hand will come to pass. In a brief moment the aches of our physical limitations will be but a memory. In a twinkle of an eye our battles with sin will fade into a relic of our past. We’ll walk on the fresh grass in the light of the conquering Son and the dark of our winters will dissipate in our minds.
The difference will be so stark that the dark will look as nothing compared to the glory of the light (Rom. 8:18). Our memories of pain will pale in comparison to the joy, freedom, hope, and peace we feel in the presence of our God (2 Cor. 4:17–18). This awaits each of Christ’s children in only a little while (1 Pet. 5:10).
Though it often doesn’t feel like a little while. The calendar may spell June, but the chill of winter drags on in some way for every one of us. Creation still groans under the weight of the curse. Our bodies still ache for relief from another day of pain. Our hearts still grieve for the broken relationship in our lives. We still live another day without a child, a parent, or a friend. The dark cold of winter suffocates as we long for the feel of the sun on our faces.
Many of us clamor in the dark. We grip our Savior’s hand and beg him to bring the light of the sun. Oh, but weary saint, the light will come. For the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not and will never overcome it (John 1:5). One day the light of our God will envelop every inch of this world—from the weeds in our garden to every anxious thought in our head. One day spring will thaw the icy ground of winter. In a moment, it will all be a distant memory.
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