By Mark Briggs

he spun on her heels like Clint Eastwood in the movie Pale Rider. Her inquisitive eyes scanned the classroom and then landed on me. I was as dumbfounded as she and couldn’t believe what had happened!

As any fourth grader, I was in a season of discovery. My ADHD adventure on this particular day was the discovery of the internal mechanics of an ink pen. I had compressed its small, unstable silver coil between my thumb and forefinger, adding equal pressure on the ends to keep the spiral flush. The spring slipped from the tip of my forefinger and flew through the air like a heat-seeking missile, striking a little lower than the lower back of a huge – but(t) not so ideal – target. 


When I think of spring, that’s my mental image. No, not the large target. But the coil with pressure, squeezing and crushing until enough is enough! And then, there’s a sudden and forceful push back in response.


The oppressive winter has long been holding us back, but oh, just you wait as soon as that first day of SPRING gets here… Bam! The sun will be shining; the flowers will be blooming; the trees that we thought were dead will bounce back with new leaves on their sleeping branches. 


I wish the spring season came with a joyous storybook burst of entry. But growth is seldom like that. We grow up with depictions of spring as everything bright and beautiful but often forget that “April showers bring May flowers.” 


Far north from where my wife and I call home, spring is synonymous with the mud brought on by melting snow. The snow stops falling, and people new to the climate begin rubbing their hands together in anticipation that spring is on the way. They don’t know how long it takes snow to thaw and the muck it leaves behind. Locals know that the sludge holds promise. They’ve learned that the brightness and boldness of color will eventually come if they “faint not.” The most magnificent summers come after the messiest springs. 


In life, the beginning of our growing season doesn’t look like growth; it looks like pain. It looks like dirt. The weather is mocking you, like the mud of your past threatening to pull you under. The shoes that normally protect you might need to be left behind to move on. Without that mud, without that rain, without seeing the ground you were hoping would be blossoming with flowers, outstretched and laid bare—all its mess and muck exposed to the light, you will not see growth. 


When your field looks the most vulnerable, it prepares for the valuable. Go ahead! Rub your hands together in anticipation. Something beautiful is getting ready to break through the dirt.


I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow…you are God’s field…1 Corinthians 3:6-9