The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God.
– Isaiah 35:1-2
“The miracles that have already happened are, of course, as Scripture so often says, the first fruits of that cosmic summer which is presently coming on. Christ has risen, and so we shall rise. St. Peter for a few seconds walked on the water; and the day will come when there will be a remade universe, infinitely obedient to the will of glorified and obedient men, when we can do all things, when we shall be those gods that we are described as being in Scripture. To be sure, it feels wintry enough still: but often in the very early spring it feels like that. Two thousand years are only a day or two by this scale. A man really ought to say, “The Resurrection happened two thousand years ago’ in the same spirit in which he says, ‘I saw a crocus yesterday.’ Because we know what is coming behind the crocus. The spring comes slowly down this way; but the great thing is that the corner has been turned. There is, of course, this difference, that in the natural spring the crocus cannot choose whether it will respond or not. We can. We have the power either of withstanding the spring, and sinking back into the cosmic winter, or of going on into those ‘high mid-summer pomps’ in which our Leader, the Son of Man, already dwells, and to which He is calling us. It remains with us to follow or not, to die in this winter, or to go on into that spring and that summer.”
– C. S. Lewis, The Grand Miracle
First of all, God is going to give me a new body. My old one, the one I have now, was broken early on while growing up in the South. My mother believed that air conditioning caused summer colds. Hot-cold-hot-cold then you get a cold. So, we got hot and stayed hot, unless we got hotter. Thus, the idea of an endless summer is not appealing to my present body.
Finally, as an Army officer, I was a member of a team constructing a Bailey bridge. We were about to shatter the record for an engineering officer class in constructing the bridge when a medic tapped me on the shoulder. “Sir, come with me.” He ushered me to the porch of a nearby cabin. He gave me some lemonade. Twenty minutes later, less than three-inches from touchdown on the bank across the chasm, hovering above it, just not touched down, the high temperature alarm went off. All work had to cease. I had been the bridge commander when we beat the record for fastest timber trestle bridge construction. That was only fifteen minutes shorter than the previous record. This time, we put a former sergeant in charge of the Bailey bridge. He had constructed them in Vietnam. We were about to break the previous record by almost two hours. We were that good, because we were a small class of working-class guys that worked well as a team, no egos. Due to the extremely hot weather in Virginia, we never registered a completion time. And I watched, a victim of heat exhaustion. To me, it felt like a normal day when I was growing up. I had no clue that I was so close to a heat stroke, until I sat down, and things started to spin. When you get one case of heat exhaustion though, it becomes much easier to get the next, and then the next. Yep, my body is broken.
No, the summer that C. S. Lewis describes is a summer that never gets too hot, and our bodies will be new, without blemish, with no chance of heat stroke.
But what of the crocus? Isaiah mentions the crocus. The crocus is such a puny little flower. It comes and goes so quickly. It is so much smaller than its Dutch bulb cousins. The tulip stands majestically above the crocus. The hyacinth is much larger than the crocus and fills the air with such aroma that the puny crocus could only dream of such beautiful aroma. I grew up on a hill that had about a third of it covered in what my mother called jonquils. The flowers may have been primarily jonquils, but they were really a variety of narcissi. Not simply jonquils, but other forms of daffodils as well, and some narcissus outside the family of daffodils. All towering over the crocus as it wilted away.
C. S. Lewis gives the answer of why focus on the crocus, possibly unwittingly (but I doubt that), in his first sentence. Those first fruits that C. S. Lewis and even Isaiah talk about is the crocus. The crocus may be small, but the crocus is determined. It is going to burst forth, regardless of whatever is in its way. You see, the crocus will shove snow out of the way in order to say, “Spring is near!” No wonder it gets tired and wilts when all the other flowers arrive. It did the hard work, breaking forth, often through frozen ground. It paved the way. Now it does as John the Baptist said in John 3, the crocus becomes less so that the showy tulips, narcissus, and hyacinths can take the stage.
You see, the cosmic crocus lets nothing stand in its way to proclaim, “God has defeated the cosmic winter! Praise ye, the Lord!”
This is the message of Isaiah 35. God has claimed victory, and the righteous rejoice. Remember that when you see this little flower in the garden. It kind of looks like a tulip, but the blooms and leaves are much smaller and seem to be tired. They rarely stretch skyward. They seem to be weak. Don’t think that for a second. You are gazing at the mighty crocus.
For some, spring has been slow to arrive, and maybe not quite yet, but spring will come.
For all of us, Cosmic Spring is coming. Don’t be surprised if the mighty crocus leads the way.
Soli Deo Gloria. Glory to God Alone.