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When trees bud too soon

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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Cherry blossoms in spring against blue sky (Credit: Victoria Short via

I was walking early this morning when I came upon a tree budding as though it were April.  Soon I found another, and another.  I don’t know a pecan tree from a rose bush, but it seemed to me that several different kinds of trees are all budding in my neighborhood.  “I wish they knew that it’s February 27,” I thought to myself.  “It always freezes in March.  If only there were a way to warn these trees before their blossoms freeze off.”  This sentiment took me immediately to gratitude for the Incarnation, where God became one of us that we might be one with him.

But then I stopped to ask the Lord to teach me through what I was seeing and another thought immediately came to me: I should be glad that trees sometimes bud in February.  While they may freeze back and have to start over, they’ll survive.  And the beauty of their blossoms is evidence that spring is on its way.  It may be a few more weeks before the threat of freezing weather is finally behind us in Dallas, but one day spring will arrive.  In the meanwhile, I should be grateful for such down payments of new life as nature offers those willing to receive her gifts with gratitude.

What an amazing creation our Lord has provided us.  Some of nature’s beauty can be explained naturalistically, such as flower blooms that attract the bees that pollinate them.  But the spectacular sunset Janet and I witnessed in Greece last fall serves no evolutionary purpose.  The stark beauty of the glacier I hiked alongside in Switzerland years ago would be hard for Darwin to explain.  And the budding trees I saw today were used by God’s Spirit to encourage me: winter never lasts forever.

Does your soul feel as barren as a leafless tree?  Know that there’s life and strength inside you that you cannot yet see.  Decide with Nehemiah that “the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10), and it will be so.