Rev. Isaiah Reid
Copyright © 20081
New life! Life from the dead!2
We are at Eastertide. About this time we reach the spring frost line. Winter loses his grip and gives up the contest. The ice goes out of the river and streams. The sun shines warm. The fields are lined and seamed with the marks of the plow, and mellowed with the harrow. The lawns show the tender green of a new carpet. Already the maples have cast their blooms, and the wide world seems awake. New life is apparent everywhere. Things apparently dead for months are breaking the confines of their winter quarters, if not what actually was their graves. The sealed buds burst the encasement of their winter tombs. Life, life, echoes from every side. The clouds go sailing past and the sky seems deep and far away. We shall soon look for the early flowers blooming along the streams and in sheltered nooks, and later breaking in on the vision from every quarter.
What is the lesson? Life! Life! New life! Life from the dead! Not only that, but life from what appeared to be all but impossible circumstances. If we did not know by past experience that the dry seed had other life in it, we would never have suspected it. All nature is a book open at this season of the year, with a leaf turned down at a reading on new life, declaring in a thousand ways, and by uncounted illustrations, that there is life beyond this, and death does not end all. Present life proves life from antecedent life, as we look backward; and looking forward, present life is an earnest of that which is to be. Because I am, therefore I shall be. We have no way by which to dispose of life. It is indivisible and therefore indestructible.
Nor is present life any sure token of that which is to be in circumstance, though its nature remains unchanged. The gladiolus bulbs I received by mail the other day have in them the promise of a life that is not at all apparent now. The life in the bulb is the same life that next summer shall wave its sword leaves in the passing breeze and adorn the place of its planting with the richest and gayest of plumes. That which now has no beauty will then, by spring and summer’s transformation, excel Solomon in all his glory.3 It is the same life as to kind, but another life as to form.
The same “I” that is here, is to be over there. Some place, somehow, somewhere, I am still to be. My gladiolus bulb carries over into the next season only the life it had the season before. What was in December fixes what shall be in May and July. Passing through the frost-bound limits of winter had no power to endow it with a life different from what it possessed. Why should I discount this lesson? Why should I think that death itself has power to change my nature or moral condition? All it can do is to introduce me to new circumstances. Nature and Bible revelation whisper the same story. What I am here, that I shall be there, so far as grade of moral worth and being is concerned. The passing of the frost line will make no change. The new unfolding of the life of the gladiolus will only be according to that which existed previously in the stored forces of the past summer. We are going into eternity, each carrying that which we have stored.
Easter stands for the breaking of the old limits, measures, and visions. Before Easter is the chrysalis condition of things. The seed is in the box and package; the melon of July is in a dry seed, and the apple and peach are in a sealed and varnished bud. On the other side, the summer side of Easter, are flowers, and green forests, and fields, and luscious fruits and golden harvests. The soul that reaches its Eastertide—and it may be having them more than once a year—is the soul making these transits out of the seed and bud and bulb condition of its environments into the richer and better things that come with the soul’s resurrection life. “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die,” it lives.4
So we must close up our seasons and have our Octobers and Novembers with their killing frosts, and be buried under our December snows, before our Easter days come. Sometimes our winters are long, but if the sleeping violets ever think May days are long in coming they make no sign whatever to that effect. They seem to say, “The winter is His Who made the summer, and all we have to do is to lie still till the coming of April days.” We get into the better conditions and awake on the springtide side of things when we accept present conditions and in them quietly abide in the will of God. Even the Master had to say in passing Gethsemane, “Not My will but Thine be done.”5 Remember, Easter is on the other side not only of Gethsemane, but beyond Calvary. The frost is before Easter and frost means death.
The real Easter is not in almanacs or in a church calendar, but rather in the emergence of the soul into new springtimes. It is not necessary to think the soul has backslid into that which constitutes its December. The soul does not need to “fall” in order to climb higher. It does not need to cease its flight upward to cast aside an old garment and don a new one. It can do all these things on the wing. The fallen maple blooms I saw on the sidewalk this morning had been cast aside by the growing tree, but it lost no time in so doing. The fact is, it often happens that the faster the soul travels, the more easily it casts off all unnecessary weights and hindrances. Nothing teaches us what is needed on the wing, like flying—the flying we do by the wings of faith. How otherwise can we know what we need and what hinders unless we are on the wing?
are available in paperback Sunnyside Papers:
from God's Book of Nature.
I notice all nature, animate and inanimate, seems glad to cross the April frost line. It is out of the chill, into the warmth and glow of the genial sunlight. It is out of the staid, the frozen, stiff condition into the waving, moving, living, beautiful, joyous and happy condition. When we cross over to the Easter side, the soul itself, inasmuch as it is superior to material nature, enters its real springtime, of which nature’s lilies and extra decorations and manifold suggestions are but a type. The chill of the past is gone. The new atmosphere is fresh about us. The vision is clarified. The soul’s senses, so to speak, are highly tensed as well as sensed. The lips sing new and sweeter songs, and the heart finds its deepest utterance. The grave gives up its dead, and the old past will never be again. Every “new tomb, where never man was laid,”6 will ever after that be an old tomb. Calvary will have a new name and new significance after Easter, and can never be the same again. As Jesus was never again the same to His disciples after Easter, so we, too, may bid farewell to all His lesser ministries, and enter and receive the higher. We discover a closer relationship and a newer understanding. We still follow and love Him, but, as with the disciples after that first Easter, we follow and love Him in ways far removed from our early experience, when He walked and talked beside our sea where He found us unsaved.
At such times we look back over a long past, and are glad we do not want to go that way again. It is not that it has all been wrong or void of that which was full of sweet joy, but rather that this is so much better. December had pleasures, but they were in ice and snow. Here are April and May, with all that the words mean. It is not only a land of new life, but of flowers, of songs, and of wings. The frost lies in the past. The sunlight and a renewed world are ours. The soul has crossed the frost line out of the winter chill into the land of springtime and summer.7
- Annotations and other additions to the online, e-book, and print versions are Copyright © Jim Kerwin. Transcribed and edited by Jim and Denise Kerwin. ↩
- Title image by Jim and Denise Kerwin based on a photo used under license from kslight on 123RF.com. ↩
- Matthew 6:28-29; Luke 12:27 ↩
- John 12:24 ↩
- Luke 22:42 ↩
- The author has combined two parallel verses: Matthew 27:60 (“new tomb”) with Luke 23:53 (“wherein never man before was laid”). ↩
- This originally appeared as an article in Isaiah Reid’s “West of the Mississippi” section in Christian Witness and Advocate of Bible Holiness, 26 April 1900, page 5. ↩