As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, O God.
I have never seen anything like it before. Suanne and I were driving home from having dinner with some friends in another town. It was early evening and the sun was low on the horizon. At that time of the night, I always become very watchful for deer along the side of the road. We were following a railroad line in northern Minnesota, heading back to North Dakota, when I caught sight of a couple of deer grazing along the railroad cut. As we get closer, it turned out to be a dozen. Not much farther down the road we came on another large group of deer. This time we counted 40! We began counting in earnest and by the time we hit the North Dakota border, we had counted 115 deer. If that wasn’t enough, just on the other side of the border, we came upon a field with at least 100 deer grazing! It was an amazing sight.
When I was a boy growing up in northeastern Ohio, seeing a deer was a rare and exciting experience. To see three or four deer together in a field was amazing. My experience yesterday blew away every other experience I have ever had of seeing deer. The experience that I have had that comes the closest is when we were in Custer State Park, in South Dakota, and saw the buffalo herd. Seeing a field covered with deer was beyond anything I have ever imagined.
It has been a long winter here in North Dakota. Now as spring is beginning to make its presence felt, the world is coming alive again. In addition to the many deer that I observed as we drove, I also saw two Bald Eagles, a Peregrine Falcon, and a fox. The animal kingdom is coming alive, even if the snow refuses to release its grip on the countryside.
There is something about the coming of spring that revives us as well. Through the long months of winter, we endure. We go about our lives with determination, but also a certain heaviness. But when spring arrives, it is like a weight is taken off of our shoulders. Our spirits are lifted. There is more bounce in our step. We begin to shed layers of clothes like animals shed their winter coats. We start to feel freer and our spirits rise.
When I saw all of the deer out in the field, I thought of the opening line of Psalm 42. The deer have been living in survival mode for a long time. As the snow melts and the temperature rises, they are revived. In a similar way, the long winter can drain us emotionally and spiritually. We can slip into survival mode, putting our heads down and enduring life. We long for a spiritual spring, a renewal of our sense of God’s goodness. It is time to awaken from our winter hibernation and encounter our world again. Early spring gives us an opportunity to refresh our spirits before the busyness of summer takes over again.
Our world is coming alive. Soon the grass and fields will be green There will be new life all around us. Just as our physical world is coming alive, so it is time for us to come alive spiritually. It is time to let the warmth of God’s light to penetrate our hearts and melt away the hardness caused by the harshness of our world. It is time to see our world through fresh eyes, with hope and joy. It is time to revel in the goodness and the grace of our God.
2 Corinthians 4:6, 16-18
For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.