Updated: Apr 16
"For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse." Romans 1:20 (ESV)
I've always thought of myself as a city girl, partial to high rises, bustle, and urban assets, but God, in His wisdom and grace, didn’t plant me there. I was born in gorgeous Southern California, raised in tidy Maryland suburbs, and lived for a decade in beautiful rural West Virginia before finally moving to Florida’s Suncoast. God is indeed omnipresent, but it’s only here that I personally encountered Him in nature, brought to mind in technicolor truth during this Holy Week fast. I see the promise of Easter in my lush adoptive home, inspired by scripture’s own assertion that God reveals Himself in creation. I wonder if I will ever lose my wonder.
One of the things that still strikes me is Florida's lush and unrelenting vegetation. Take most any acre, and you’ll find a dense thicket of trees and plants of every shade of green. Since it’s subtropical, there are often stately live oaks and pine trees alongside towering palms, stubby palmettos, mangroves, citrus, hibiscus, other flowering somethings, and a lush, invasive underbrush, richly nourished by the swampy soil. More amazing still, this emerald landscape never changes.
We recently strolled the boardwalk of a garden-variety Florida park and I choked up with emotion in its evergreen embrace, overwhelming in its generosity.
Easter insight: This is Jesus! His offer of love, grace, and mercy is evergreen and overwhelming. While my failures persist, Christ is always there, open arms, to welcome me home. He offers new beginnings over and over.
Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8) and His love truly endures forever (Psalm 136).
As an Italian girl with meridional roots, the sun is in my soul, and I tan just getting the mail. Yet I wasn’t on the Gulf coast a week before I got fried to rosie-red in an hour.
The sun is bigger, hotter, unyieldingly nuclear here. Glorious to behold, it is very constant (as many as 271 mostly sunny days per year). I love its warm benefits to both man and nature, but learned quickly to be mindful of its power and fury.
Easter insight: The Son is essential to life. Jesus Christ is both an infinite source of welcoming, warm comfort, life, and loving light, and a fiery force of purifying or punitive heat, depending on our relationship with Him (Luke 12:49, Revelation 2:18, 1:14, 19:12). Hard fact, but well-documented truth.
A meteorologist would know why we have such epic clouds. I don't but get to enjoy it anyway. One sky scape can boast several formations strewn across an otherwise azure plane. If a storm is looming, the clouds can advance like a menacing shelf. Whatever their appearance, they dazzle.
Easter Insight. It’s here in Florida that I’ve seen the kind of towering columns of churning, puffy, backlit cumulus clouds I imagine will herald Christ’s return. Other clouds invoke heavenly realms and the promise of eternity. Anyway, it's too marvelous for words.
The weather has been especially lovely this week, high 70s with a gentle breeze. Come June's increasing molten heat, we'll all welcome any kind of breeze, gentle or otherwise. However, this quickly morphs into wind-wariness until Hurricane season runs its course in November. Florida tops the country with an average of 10.1 named storms each season, with about 5.9 becoming hurricanes.
The year after we moved here, Irma rolled through. While we sheltered in place rather than evacuate, the prospect of Category 5 winds (mph 157) and Irma's striking satellite swirl were scary. Thankfully, we weathered her winds just fine, but other places were devastated. Wind is like that.
Easter Insight. With Christ's resurrection and ascension came the Holy Spirit, poured out on believers as a "mighty rushing wind" at Pentecost (Acts 2:2). Whether mighty or mild, this mysterious wind is the very spirit of God, empowering, life-giving, transformative and miraculous (Ephesians 1:19-20).
Oh, the water! The peninsula is threaded and dappled with water in every conceivable form, as though land were an afterthought. I relish this about Florida and soak it up, literally and figuratively.
To me, the most striking and spiritual water features are springs, abundant and incredibly beautiful. My own town is home to the Espiritu Santo Springs (springs of the Holy Spirit), which Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto hoped were the mythical Fountain of Youth. There may be some truth to that because I’m indeed enjoying new life in middle age.
Easter Insight: Jesus, the Living Water, is the author of new life and promises abundant life (John 10:10). In Him, we are new creations, purified and refreshed by the incarnate spring. This restorative water is an inexhaustible source of eternal life we can revisit again and again.
Florida ranks seventh in biodiversity. We’re also eighth in racial diversity and third in immigrant population. I treasure this about the state, reveling in the natural, cultural, racial, and other demographic diversity that surrounds me.
Easter Insight. As Creator, God is reflected in all of creation including mankind. As I’ve shared before, I’ve been writing personal accounts for people who’ve had near death experiences.
My first and most compelling account was by a pastor. He encountered God the Father Himself and said in Him, indescribably, he saw every face of humankind.
I could probably explore and exhaust the Floridian metaphor more, but you get the idea! All told, there is one key takeaway…
The Ultimate Easter Insight
The very Good News:
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
I pray we can all receive the promise of Easter anew this Sunday.
Grace, peace, and love in Christ,
God, thank You that all creation reveals Your Glory. Thank You that You gave Your only Son for me. Please forgive my sins and make me new. Amen.