May is the month of rejuvenation, at least here in the mountains. Although, this year has been inverted. Late March saw the Bradford pear trees and the daffodils beginning their beautiful displays, and now, as I write, we are under a freeze warning for both Friday and Saturday nights. Normally, May is when everything comes alive from the long winter’s dormant rest. Tulips, forsythia, fruit trees, dogwoods, and rhododendrons display their lovely flowers. Yards turn a lush green, plants such as hostas and lilies begin to emerge, insects of all varieties delight in the warmer temperatures, and the foothills transform from mere patches of green to a blanket of green. Birds, such as hummingbirds and swallows, settle into the area after long migrations from points far south, and the humans begin to emerge from their homes at the call of the sun and warm, soft breezes.
May has also been, during the past few years, a month of rejuvenation for me. In May 2014, I had a knee replaced that had been bad since I tore the ACL in middle school. For decades, my ability to do things like running, hiking, playing tennis and basketball, had slowly eroded, to the point in 2014, I could only walk and with a limp. That all began to change that May after the surgery. Within a year, I was able to do things I hadn’t been able to do in years. I felt rejuvenated, like I was 25 years younger!
In a more recent May (2017), what I had long known was coming, finally did. I was born with a bi-cuspid aortic valve. It was discovered in the late 90’s and had been monitored ever since. In 2015, my cardiologist began sounding the alarm that a valve replacement would be needed probably sooner than later. Two years after that appointment, there was no doubt and I was referred to a pre-imminent cardiovascular surgeon at Duke, who told me that I could have “dropped dead” if I had exerted myself too much. (Here’s a miracle: I had continually worked out and even hiked alone on a very arduous trail six months earlier!) Within weeks of the surgery, I again felt rejuvenated, not merely physically, but mentally as well, because this condition had weighed on my mind for several years and I had grown to hate doctors’ visits because I was always reminded that one day I would have to get my valve replaced. Now, never again would I hear that!
When I think about rejuvenation, the definition implies moving from a worse condition to a better one. During winter, everything is dormant and the landscape often dull and lifeless. But then comes spring with its vibrant colors and varieties of plant and bird life following the warming of the air. The orthopedic surgeon who examined my knee said it looked like the knee of an 80-year-old. After he replaced it and I had finished rehab, it felt like my right knee, which was described by the same doctor as looking like one of a 25-year-old. The joint was rejuvenated. And my aortic valve was narrowed with stenosis to the size of a pencil, when it should have been closer to that of a garden hose. Post-surgery and after rehab, my heart was fully functioning like that of a much younger man.
Over my life as a follower of Jesus, I have experienced several periods of spiritual rejuvenation. Without exception, they all were preceded by times of difficult trials. It’s as if in this fallen world, rejuvenation happens only after difficult times precede it. Perhaps that is why James says we should “count it pure joy” when we face difficult times (James 1:2).
Thus, it seems reasonable that we might expect a spiritual rejuvenation at the end of this pandemic—a closer, more intimate relationship with God; a life with rearranged priorities and values; and, as James says, a life “mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (1:4) This is how the Lord works in a fallen world. He takes the not-so-good and the evil, which are meant by our enemy to harm us, and he brings good out of them if we love him. (Romans 8:28)
These might be difficult times for you, but as a means to endure, you can put your hope in our faithful God to rejuvenate you on the other side of this. It is what he does.
© Jim Musser 2020 All Scripture references are from the New International Version, 2011.