Look at the Leaves…
Autumn is my most favorite season of the year, mostly because of the diverse canvas of colors that burst forth from the trees. I also enjoy the cooling temperatures, the golden harvest fields, harvest celebrations, the NC State Fair, and the approach of end of year festivities. It’s just a wonderful time of year.
Several years ago, I made myself a promise that Autumn would be a time for me to slow down every year. Our years can be so busy, so packed full of life and activity that it can feel like life has a hold of us — and that we’re just along for the ride. Summer is especially bad about that. And if we’re not careful, the busyness of the year will crowd out the daily blessings of life in God’s world, and life with God.
I hate that feeling. I hate feeling busy. Slowing down and living slowly is a discipline. It's something we have to do on purpose. And one way that I’ve learned to slow down every year is by looking at the leaves.
The leaf change process in North Carolina usually starts somewhere in late September or early October. I live in the central Piedmont, so we’re in the latter half of peak leaf-change. By the time our leaves peak in color, the NC mountains are mostly bare. Nonetheless, whenever I notice the first subtle changes, I start reminding myself every morning, “Watch the leaves. Take them in. Appreciate them.”
I like to fill my Autumn with the sounds of Autumn music; music that makes me feel the Autumn in my soul. For me, that James Taylor’s album “October Road” — J.J. Cale’s “Naturally” — and Tony Rice’s “Church Street Blues.”
Something about that music, the cool air, and the beautiful colors makes me feel the Autumn.
-But even still, there is something in the Autumn that is more sacred, and more comforting…
The Autumn is a Yearly Promise of God’s Faithfulness
-The Psalms remind us over and over again—and in a multitude of ways—that God's world sings of God’s beauty and wonder.
The creation sings about and proclaims God’s beauty and wisdom and knowledge.
And the more I’ve intentionally observed the changing of the leaves year by year, the more I’ve come to think of the Autumn as the time of year God paints.
And I love paintings — I love to collect the work of artists that I admire. Painting is such a wonderful way to depict our world, capturing elements of the world that we can both see and feel.
-But more than just beautiful collections of yellows, reds, and greens, the Autumn, I believe, is meant to remind us of God’s goodness in the death of Jesus Christ.
The leaves change colors because the Autumn signals that the time is right—the leaves to stop producing the chlorophyll that makes the leaves green. They stop feeding themselves, and begin the death process. And as the chlorophyll leaves, the green gives ways to beautiful shades of yellow, red, lighter greens. It’s almost as if the world glows for a time.
Every year, when the time is right, the leaves die and we wonder at its beauty.
But how is this reminding us of Jesus?
It reminds us that there is beauty in death, —but even more so that there is particular beauty in the death of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World.
The Bible tells us that when the time was right, “in the fullness of time,” God sent forth His Son to die for our sins.
And in the death of Jesus, God displays the beauty and wisdom of His plan…His plan to save the world.
-And every single year—when the time is right—the beautiful death of leaves in the fall gives way to the wonderful, life-giving arrival of Springtime. At just the right time, life returns and the Creation sings again.
And just as Jesus offered Himself on a cross, dying for the sins of the world, being buried in a tomb, so too did God bring Him back to life three days later.
His resurrection is a promise of eternal life — not only for Him, but for all who repent of their sins and trust in Him.
So, slow down. Look at the leaves. Appreciate their beauty. And remember the greatest news of all, that when the time was right, God sent forth His Son to die, and having died for sins, He raised Him to life.
Watch in wonder as God paints the world.