S P R I N G - T I M E

by W.B. Screws

The Pilgrim's Messenger

"Have a pattern of sound words which you hear from me, in faith and love
which are in Christ Jesus."--11 Timothy 1:13
Published Monthly By W. B. SCREWS, Glennville, Georgia
Twenty-five Cents a Year

Volume XXVII

June, 1948

Number 11

Entered at the postoffice at Glennville, Ga., as second-class matter.

My Beloved spoke and said to me, "Arise, My love, My fair one, and come away. For lo! the winter is past, the rain is over and gone, the flowers appear on the earth, the time of the singing of birds has come, and the voice of the turtle dove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth her green figs, and the vine with the tender grapes give a good smell. Arise, My love, My fair one, and come away", Song of Solomon 2:10-12

I was reared in an atmosphere where the enjoyment of the beauties of nature was frowned on. My parents, who loved beauty, were victims of this taboo. There seemed to be an ascetic belief that God is not pleased to have us admire the beauties He has placed here. We were to refuse them, and regard them as being of the evil one, and designed to draw us away from God. We would do better to count the ugly things of life, as being more in harmony with God's intention for us! Was He not very fierce? How, then, could He keep from frowning on beauty?

So much was I terrified by this belief, (although I did not hold it), that I dared not wear a bouquet of flowers in sight of elders of the church. No flower was ever placed in the meeting house. And I dared not give voice, publicly, to my inward feelings when Spring, the daughter of heaven and earth, came dancing on land and sea and in the air. No; I must stifle my feelings of buoyancy.

If, in the early morning in spring, I saw the gorgeous picture that the rising sun paints in the east, and if I thought of it as a token that the God of all creation was extending His loving arms to embrace and kiss His earth-children, I dared not voice it outside the family circle. It was sacrilege! The church would have none of it.

Milton said, writing of spring "Awake! the morning shines and the fresh fields call us." He who cannot come in intimate touch with the good earth in spring-time is unfortunate. It is the season when the earth sends her strength, vitality and happiness to the surface, to bless all growing vegetation. At the same time there arises in me strength, love, buoyancy, thankfulness, and a wish to go places and do things.

I am happy that I have escaped from the dreary "faith' that keeps one from being free to love, to sing, to overflow with the very joy of being alive in the season when God puts new physical strength and vitality in humans. He who loves God in spirit, can use this very vitality and love and song, to praise Him. We do not have to go about in sadness. We can see the manifestation of God in His works in nature, and can enjoy the beauty, the vitality, the re-surging strength because we see them as part of His doing. Surely it is no crime to overflow with thanksgiving to the great Creator, when we see and feel spring in the air and in our very blood.

In the Song of Solomon, that most beautiful book, these things are glorified. That they may be figures of something still higher, does not destroy the fact that what is said is true literally. They must be literally true, to figure higher realities.

For us who have long known the coldness and bleakness of winter, it is good to feel that spring is again at our doors. This feeling is enhanced when we see flowers popping open, and hear birds giving full throat to their joy. The graceful daughter of heaven and earth comes garlanded with flowers, and her vivacious skipping over all the face of nature makes us feel that the gorgeous display of the love of God is but a foretaste of the glories, never-ending, toward which all things are traveling. It is a sweet reminder that, in spite of the burdens and losses that afflict mankind, in spite of all human doubts and fears, there is, beyond the "orient meadows," the golden fringe of day, that God is still God, and that He is bringing all to a glorious fruition.

The text also speaks of love. This is the noblest of all emotions, in spite of those who would decry it as evil. Anger may lead us to maim and kill; fear may cause us to abandon those whom we should protect; shame may unfit us for any noble task. But love work; no ill to anyone. No one ever harmed another because of love. God is Love. Paul commends love. Christ requests "that ye love one another".

Love and kisses go together. Is not God kissing the earth with His sunshine on this very day--one of the most nearly perfect days that I have ever seen? Is not the fragrant sunshine and the balmy air the very lips of the Father? Does the mother tire of kissing her child? or the lover, of kissing his loved one? Is is not the sweetest tenderest of all languages? Nay, is it not the universal language? Nature responds to the kisses of the God of nature, and saints respond to the kisses of His spirit.

Does not spring-time figure any time when God brings sweet happiness to our spirits? It may be that we have had dreariness of experience. He chases away such feeling by the balmy kisses of His spirit and His word. What happiness can compare with this? Some in this audience have had bitter disappointments. Some of you have asked for bread and been given a stone by one to whom you appealed for comforting words. I am praying that the spring-time of the kisses of His love may brighten your lives and revive your drooping spirits. You cannot know how earnestly and lovingly I pray that this blessing may be yours this night.

Whenever you get a fresh vision of the extent of the grace of God, that is spring-time. Your spirits sing. Flowers bloom in your thoughts. No happiness in viewing the things of nature can compare with the brightness of spirit. I had when I first became cognizant of the fact that God's love is boundless, His grace unlimited. Words cannot express the gladness of the spirit that glimses the truth that the scriptures does not hold up before us the doctrine of an endless hell of torment for part of mankind. When men lost faith in God and began to think that they must frighten folks, to drive them to Christ, they invented the bogy-man. That mythical character has haunted the lives of millions. God wills the salvation of all mankind. There is justification for all. The scriptures say these things. When we believe it, spring-time --- glorious spring-time--comes into our spirits, and we learn, for the first time, just what happiness is.

Spring comes when you are reminded that God is love--that He loves you in spite of your faults. Every time you are made conscious of His love for you, spring comes anew.

With this precious hope we can bury our loved ones with the assurance that their career is not ended--that the glorious future will be a never-ending experience of glorious activity that will be pleasing to God--activity that will be perfect in every respect.

Is not the Beloved in the text a figure of Christ? He it is, Who says, "Arise, My love. My fair one, and come away". He is speaking to any and all saints in every period of the earth's history.

On account of the immaturity of mankind, God has given forms and ceremonies to be used in worship. This is a concession to the natural bent of man, for those whom we sometimes call "heathen," worship some kind of God in forms. But in all periods there have been some saints who were more mature and spiritual, who found greatest joy in worshiping without ritual and forms. David was never more mature and spiritual than when he wrote the Psalms. "The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want", is a pronouncement of love for the Lord, apart from every ceremony of law. It is so in many of the Psalms. There, the Israelite finds the very highest expression of his heart. Paul finally reached the state where he could discard every law, every ritual, every directive of man, and declare that his ambition was to merely be found in Christ. In that state he could be unfettered in his devotions to Jehovah.

Come, then, into the garden with Him. Listen to His voice. Talk to Him. Enjoy His kisses. Revel in His words of tenderness. Turn aside from everything, when it is possible to do so, and spend hours with your Lord, your Beloved. It will pay handsome dividends.

You will then know what spring-time means.

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