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But it is God who establishes us together with you in Christ and who anointed us, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a down payment. (2 Corinthians 1:21, 22)

Gray mud seemed to morph from the creek into the dormant trunk of a buckeye tree. Beneath the frost of late winter, there were no signs of life, only decomposed leaves and soggy mire. What was the point of hiking in this dead wilderness?

My gaze ran up the buckeye’s dry bark to the twigs rattling in the wind. Out on the tips, tiny buds pushed into the sky. They looked like bursts of green popcorn pasted on by a clumsy florist.

I asked myself how these verdant, silky eruptions of life could come from so dead a thing as the inert tree. The answer was that in the heart of the sleeping shell lived an ooze of sap carrying the life that was to come.

I am that tree—a dormant shell of the life that will explode out of me when heaven’s spring finally reaches earth. All I see now are muddy roots, gray trunk, and lifeless branches. But I can’t doubt the coming change. 

I hold a guarantee. The proof is in the word of God, in the buckeye, and in my heart. Inside me, the Holy Spirit gives an oozing trace of the life that will be. He pushes the sap of joy through my dry bones and broken circumstances. That private little knowledge is my deposit—my hint of the rapture found before the throne.

A buckeye tree in dark winter scarcely resembles the beauty of the same creation in summer bloom. Likewise, it’s a mistake for me to judge myself, or others, by this present form. I mustn’t look at the corrupted shell. It’s the ooze of the Holy Spirit hiding inside that defines future life.

Eternal spring is around the corner. To compare my winter self to my summer self is to compare night to day, a caterpillar to its butterfly, a gray stump to the leafed out, emerald and white, flowering buckeye. I’ll still be me, but oh, what a glorious, Christ filled me.

Prayer: Sweet Spirit, thank you for your holy deposit inside me.