While springtime weather has arrived for pretty much the entire country, I can’t help but think about the long winter we had here in North Dakota, and how the hopefulness of spring begins each year around the middle of January.
Although many don’t openly admit it, as mid-January approaches, we begin thinking that we are on the “downhill” slide of winter, and there is a hidden feeling of hopefulness that is born within us. It is a positive feeling even if the snow is blowing outside and the wind is howling. We begin to realize it is only temporary and we will soon be able to start thinking of the new growth, warmer weather, and less time spent “bundling up” before stepping outside that is finally upon us. The first sign for me is when I get into the car, fasten my seat belt and notice there is more room between the steering wheel and me. The coat is less bulky, even if I’m not. What a great feeling that is! To what can I compare this feeling of hopefulness?
Each time I think of the Stewardship way of life, I know that I am experiencing a kind of hopefulness that compares to the dawn of another spring. It is hopeful because all kinds of possibilities await a new spring, and so it is also with the stewardship way of life. Each spring we anticipate what will grow this year and what will eventually nourish our lives and strengthen our faith. Even before a planting season begins, seeds lie dormant with the hopefulness of the sprouting of new growth and the expectation of positive results. We know we are also at the mercy of the right conditions necessary for the season of growth and the care and time we must give to the soil to insure it is fertile ground for what we hope for and what we expect. While there are always other obstacles we may face before we see the results, the power of hopefulness is always there.
Throughout the year, the parish is preparing, planting, tending or caring for its harvest of ministries and parishioner commitments to time, talent and treasure. There is a hopefulness that each year we will grow in our spiritual lives and our relationship with the Lord as well as our connection to the parish family to which we belong. Living the stewardship way of life encourages the hopefulness that will make us better disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our faith can blossom and with it our commitment to discipleship. Our faith will be as vibrant as the freshness and anticipated growth of plants breaking through the fresh new earth. The buds on the trees that appear stagnant and dry are indeed filled with new life and, at a designated time, blossoms into what is again possible for another year.
Stewardship does more than just blossom. It transforms what may appear to be just dirt or soil into a beautiful garden that makes us appreciate and be grateful for God’s creation. Stewardship transforms people’s lives from what seems ordinary into extraordinary discipleship of Christ. I don’t find it difficult at all to compare the stewardship way of life as a sign of hopefulness and the springtime growth of a garden or the blossoming of the trees. I am reminded of a scene I have just described each time we sing that beautiful hymn, “Lord of all Hopefulness.” I am reminded that even as He hung upon the cross for us, He gave hope to the world. His resurrection confirmed it.
Our stewardship prepares us, “tills” the soil of our hearts, and instills a hopefulness that compares only to the springtime that we all anticipate and await. Isn’t God good? Isn’t God generous in His love for us? Isn’t it time for us to be more hopeful, appreciative and responsible of the gifts God has provided? Don’t you think it is a good thought to think about as we the hopefulness of another spring is upon us?