Months of anticipation gave way to its springtime birth. Nurtured by sunlight, the leaf unfurled, grew, and matured. In midlife, it held strong against withering heat and storms. Now aging, and in the autumn of life, it braves the chilly winds, and shows its dazzling colors. Soon it will fall to the earth and decay. What can a leaf teach us about God? I invite you to find out.
This past week, under the canopy of a deep blue sky, white fluffy clouds, and with the scent of autumn in the air, my wife and I set out on our e-bikes. Traveling down nearby mountain roads, our eyes feasted upon the beauty of God’s magnificent fall colors. This year’s weather granted the trees the opportunity to produce deep reds, bright yellows, and stunning orange colors. This was one of the best displays of color in years.
As we rode along, cresting each hill and rounding every curve, endless trees beckoned us to take their picture. Eventually, we pulled off the road, dismounted and I grabbed my cell phone and prepared to snap a picture. Suddenly, I stopped. As I stood there on this rural mountain road, surrounded by indescribable beauty, the Holy Spirit gave me an invaluable lesson.
Standing there preparing to take my picture, I realized that even the best camera and best photographer could not truly capture the moment. I realized that more than my eyes were drinking in this beauty. All of my senses were at work. This masterpiece was the sum total of sight, sound, smell and feel. I was observing the living beauty of God’s creation. No photograph could capture the totality of this moment. I never took the picture. I reflected on the many pictures of fall colors I had taken in years past and I realized that after taking those picture I rarely, if ever, looked at them again. Perhaps, in the past, I was so focused on taking pictures that I missed the essence of those fleeting experiences.
This time instead, I just stood there in silent awe. I gave thanks to God for that moment in time. In a flash, it was gone. I will never have it again. In a Holy Spirit revelation, I realized that I was like those leaves. Soon I too, just like each of you, will wither and fade, fall to the earth, and be gone. The Holy Spirit revealed even more. He reminded me that everything and everyone in life is passing away. Everything, that is, except God.
Not every leaf survives until autumn. Some leaves, for reasons unknown, even before unfurling, fall to the ground and die. Other leaves succumb to summer storms. Sometimes, entire trees are chopped down in their prime and all of their leaves are lost. Most leaves, however, make it to their autumn fashion show. They have one last chance to make a dazzling display before departing. One thing is certain, eventually all leaves will die. And so goes life for us.
We can become so caught up taking pictures that we fail to truly capture the moment. We can get so busy in each season of life that we fail to enjoy the gift of the present. Today’s present is tomorrows past. Let’s live in the moment. Let’s display our real vibrant colors. Like the leaves of autumn, let’s bring joy to those around us. Before we know it, our winter will come.
In 2 Peter 3:10 we receive an ominous warning. It tells us the Lord will come like a thief and then the heavens will pass away. Psalm 103:15-16 says this, “As for man, his days are like the grass; he blossoms like a flower in the field. A wind sweeps over it and it is gone; its place knows it no more.”
The incessant marching of time and the reality that everything and everyone is passing away can strike fear in our hearts. But the Bible also gives us hope and reassurance. In Matthew 24:35 Jesus states, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” Finally, 1 John 2:17 tells us, “Yet the world and its enticement are passing away. But whoever does the will of God remains forever.”
I received so much more than I was seeking when I set out with my wife on our bike trip that day. I didn’t anticipate a life lesson from a leaf. I am glad I didn’t miss that moment. The Holy Spirit reminded me that although everything in life is passing away, our true joy and hope are in our unchanging God who is the same now and forever. And, He stands ready to grant eternal life to all who believe is His Son, Jesus the Christ.
Heavenly Father, thank you for speaking to me through the magnificence of your creation. Thank you for the reassurance that, although this life fades away, life lasts forever for those who believe and trust in your Son and live according to His teachings. Amen!
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