As I write this It is winter. The trees stand empty and quiet; they render no more rustling leaves or song of birds. Gone are their spring buds, their summer bloom, and their autumn glow. Dismantled, they stretch their naked arms to heaven. Beneath, in the frozen earth, lie their roots, asleep.
I can identify with those trees. I have lived through my spring, summer, and fall. And like the trees, I live in winter now. A few years ago I began to lie awake at night because of extreme discomfort and a restless spirit. Hour after hour would pass without sleep.
But during those dark nights I rediscovered a treasure. Decades after being buried deep in my consciousness, the psalms that I memorized for school on Monday mornings in Holland came to the surface again. I remembered every one of them, almost to the word. This was not of my own doing—no doubt it was the work of the Holy Spirit.
In those long and sleepless nights when I could no longer find words to pray, I sang my prayers to God through the words of the psalms. What comfort they offered! I let them voice my laments, my grief, my petitions. And in those psalms I found solace, forgiveness, and assurance of eternal life. What I also found, and what challenged me, was the psalmists’ unchanging theme of praising God.
In my house I have a drawer that holds a few Bibles and some small books of psalms in the Dutch language that I inherited from my parents. The odd time at night when I get stuck in a psalm, I rise and take my Dad’s little book of psalms out of that drawer and look up the forgotten line. Sometimes I read all the verses, even the ones that I didn’t learn. What richness they contain!
Those psalms planted the first seeds of faith in my heart. And, wonder of wonders, even after I emigrated to Canada and sang for some 60 years beautiful hymns in the English language, God preserved in my mind these precious psalms. He knew there would come a time when I needed them. It is a miracle in my eyes.
Winter is here. The trees are dormant. I too have arrived in winter. However, here is where the likeness ends. For I am still able to serve, worship, and praise my Maker. I praise him for guiding me safely through the seasons of my life.
Deep below in the earth lie the trees’ roots. They will bring new life in the spring. The psalms in my heart are preparing me for a new life too—and an eternal spring!
Until then I will continue to sing those precious psalms in the night